Internet Sales Got You Down?

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Talking Saturday with Brandon Baldwin of Motion Pro (Booth 3525), I discovered a unique program the company offers to help dealers capture sales otherwise lost to the Internet.

Shopatron allows consumers to shop for Motion Pro products from the comfort of their homes. The program doesn't cut the dealers out of the equation; in fact, it brings consumers in touch with their local retailers. (Motion Pro, according to Baldwin, is "old school" and supports the distributors 100 percent, he just feels that distributors are losing touch with the market.)

Here's how it works: consumers log onto motionpro.com, select the products they are looking to buy, and check out. The program then finds the dealer closest to the customer who has the products in stock, and automatically calculates shipping. The order is then sent to the dealer; he boxes it up and ships it to the consumer.

Beginning midyear, customers will be able to pick up their products at the dealer, similar to the programs Best Buy and Circuit City offer.

The program offers dealers an opportunity to get in front of the customer on a couple of levels; if the product is shipped, the shipping dealer can stuff the box with upcoming event or sale information. If the customer comes to the dealership to pick up the order, the dealer then can introduce him to product and service offerings in person.

Dealers pay between 2 percent and 5 percent of the retail price (note: all products sold on the Motion Pro Web site are sold at suggested retail, so the dealer fee is nominal).

Motion Pro's partner, Shopatron, operates in four distribution industries (fishing, arts and crafts, automotive and powersports). For dealers, there are no setup fees, no servers to buy and no Web pages to develop, Shopatron even offers free unlimited technical support to participating dealers.

Since the program's inception, Motion Pro has been processing about 400 orders a month, which Baldwin figures are from new customers. In addition to the new business, Motion Pro is capturing customer shopping patterns that can help distributors support the dealers.

AGV, Suomy, Spy and Scott have all joined the Shopatron program since last year. Judging from everyone's reaction and success, I would expect to see more companies in this, hopefully helping dealers capture more Internet-related sales. &#8212 Dave Scott