As we reflect on our time at the Outdoor Retailer convention, we thought we’d create a post with our nature-loving, outdoor-product-sellers in mind. We’re going to start with a big claim: as an outdoor retailer, your product may very well fit into an ecommerce sweet spot.
Let’s back up a bit. You might see ecommerce as a sort of magical trail to the top of the mountain of success. Maybe you can’t help but hope that selling online will exponentially increase sales. That after you start selling on Amazon, all across the country, people will be whispering the name of your product in their sleep (right before or after they buy it, of course).
Chances are, whether or not you already sell online, you know that ecommerce is a lot of work. For many types of products, selling online can be a huge headache with little in the way of clear benefits beyond getting your product out there for the world to see.
But with outdoor products, well, this often just isn’t the case. In fact, there are a number of features that make outdoor products one of the best candidates for online selling.
Lightweight products means heavy profits
Weight (or lack thereof) is one of the most common outdoor product advantages. Generally, lightness is either due to function (i.e. a backpacking tent) or form, as with most clothing, which is always easy to ship… but becomes even more profitable when it’s made of that latest synthetic, sweat-wicking material. Either way, you’ve got a big advantage over heavy products, since shipping will be much easier. Of course, this is not necessarily unique to outdoor products, and it doesn’t apply to everything. (Sorry kayak folks, this post may not be for you).
Many outdoor products, especially niche products, have limited brick and mortar options. While specialty stores are great in that often they really focus on knowing their products and seeking out quality brands. However, these stores tend to have lower sales volumes due to their higher prices, and often have limited space. While you don’t have to dump specialty selling, setting up your product online means you may be able to reach more wide spread customer base, as well as offer lower prices, while also taking a larger cut of the profits.
This is actually a little bit of a sneaky inclusion in this list, since all products benefit from online selling for this reason. However, it is definitely worth mentioning to anyone who is looking to sell online or move towards automating their ecommerce. Once you begin selling your outdoor products online, you’ll be much more agile in responding to shifts in the market. Plus, if you set up a strong sales and inventory tracking system (which you should definitely do), then you’ll have access to past and present data any time you need it.
Another issue with smaller brick and mortar stores is that they have limited shelf space. Limited shelf space means that you have to think long and hard about launching that new hiking shoe line. And, it means out of season products are even more likely to be squeezed out of valuable shelf space.
With the flexible warehouse spaces of online selling, the only real thing you’ll have to worry about is making that product the best you can, and ramping up your marketing when the time comes. You can keep products available to your customers year round, and foresee any dips in inventory.
We’re pretty psyched that we got the opportunity to meet so many outdoor sellers in one place, and that we will get to explore even more ways to work these products into the online market. It’s true that kayaks and stand up pattleboards may be tough, but we would love to chat about your product and Whitebox’s ecommerce services.