Rome SDS recently launched a new program called % For Snowboarding that allows riders to donate a percentage of their purchase to their favorite local Rome retailer when they buy direct from the brand’s website. We caught up with Director of Sales Dan Sullivan to learn more about the program.

Where did the idea for this come from? What feedback had you been getting from your retailers about your online sales program?

The idea spawned out of our concern for the health of snowboarding and the health of snowboard shops.  Participation in snowboarding is a major topic of discussion for many of us—how do we get more people riding? We believe this is tied at the hip with snowboard shops. They  are key to promoting snowboarding at the local level.  Snowboard shops are, and always have been,  integral in stoking excitement on a local level. This face to face rider/shop interaction is something that the internet simply cannot duplicate.  So the founding principles of this program is to reward and support those shops who are doing the most to promote snowboarding.

At the same time, we're keenly aware of how the internet has changed the buying habits of consumers—ease, convenience, selection are all fueling internet sales and consumers desire to purchase there. We were concerned with the trend of more and more brands choosing to compete directly with our retailers by selling directly to riders, but not involving those shops in any way—be it financially, or trying to drive those customers into their stores.

We brainstormed a way that we thought could offer consumers the ease of internet shopping,  the expertise of dealing directly with Rome, but which also allowed their favorite shops to benefit from these sales. This being  the basis for % for Snowboarding—Shop Global, Spend Local.

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan

What percentage of the sale will selected shops get? I understand it’s based on their relationship with Rome’s rider-retailer-Rome support network, how does that breakdown?

Qualified Rome retailers will have the opportunity to receive a range from 30%-38% of the retail transaction price. Each shop's take will be based on their support of the Rome brand, as well as their support of snowboarding—their so called  'Partnership Level'.

There are three partnership levels. The first deals with their support of snowboarding . We define twelve initiatives we deem as a supporting and growing snowboarding at a local level and if a shop executes four of these, they get the added % of the sale.   The other two levels involve category support of the brand  as well as a prior year pre-season order growth incentive.

How did you work with your retailers to develop the program and what suggestions did you implement?

Shortly after the initial idea for the program was formulated internally, we started involving several retailers in the conversation. We reached out to retailers who had strong opinions about how the internet has impacted their business—be it for better or worse.  As we had these discussions,  we soon found out that even those shops most opposed to brands selling directly via the internet felt our concept was something they had not heard before, and they showed  unanimous signs of supporting such a concept.

Specific ideas that came out of these retailer discussions were several of the initiatives that we list as 'supporting' snowboarding. Many shops were already doing unique, creative, and in most cases, very affordable things to support the snowboard scene in their area. We figured if we collected these ideas. and could broadcast  them through the program, maybe more shops would do them.

Another specific idea was given on how the shop selection process would work. For each purchase a shopper will be prompted to 'support' their closest geographic shop(s), but they will also have the choice to support any shop from our dealer base.  This allows the consumer to support a shop they might have grown up with, or a shop they supported when they were a carefree rider in a resort town.  This idea came directly from a discussion with such a resort shop.

Lastly, another initiative  was what we call the 'Foot in the Door' element of the program.  Several retailers put it simply to us "Do something to get the local customer into our door and we'll take it from there."   So we came up with the solution of sending a coupon with each sale that will be a call to action for that consumer to go to that local shop and receive a reward for doing so.

How will the actual process work for consumers? Will it just be a list of shops? 

It will be as simple as any other internet purchase.  We will still have the dealer locator, like we have in the past.  However, if a consumer chooses to 'Buy Now' that transaction will then be handled within our customer service/sales department.  Once the consumer chooses their products, they will then be prompted to offer 'support' to a few of their closest geographic Rome stores, or choose their favorite snowboard shop.

How will the shops know they’ve been selected and receive payment?

Our sales team will have information packets about the qualification of the program.  During our order confirmation process in April and May we will confirm a shop's involvement and corresponding discount level.

Payment or credit will likely be handled two times a year—January and March. The hope is that some retailers may use any reward money to fuel and fund more snowboard specific initiatives that grow participation and incubate future sales.

How do retailers sign up for this? Will all of your partners be automatically listed on the site?

As long as our retailers have a preseason order and reach a very modest minimum order level ,which will be defined by our sales reps, they will be eligible for the program.

When penciling the numbers, what impact do you expect this will have on your partrners’ bottom lines?

We don't want to assume any kind of volume with this program. Rather, we want to focus on what we hope our retailers will also focus on: this being the fact that one of their partner suppliers is doing something tangible to support their business and support snowboarding in a new and unique way.  We hope that we are trying to work with them to grow snowboarding, which of course benefits their businesses and ours.

This program is a true partnership between Rome and them,  rather than us just competing directly against them.  So whether it be $1 or $10,000 in payment,  it is a concrete step towards working towards a retail world where the convenience of the internet might mesh with the expertise and passion of a local snowboard shop.

How about Rome’s?

Again, our long term objective here is to figure out a way to uniquely support or retailers. Our hope is that our retailers applaud this move and we are rewarded with stronger category support during the preseason and a desire for our shops to want to do more business with us.

Together maybe we can both impact local snowboard scenes and have consumers purchase snowboard products instead of electronic gadgets.

And so, yes, it is our goal for it to benefit the Rome business.