SCOTTS VALLEY, CA (BRAIN) — Easton Bell Sports sent out revised dealer agreements to its network on Thursday outlining a new unilateral minimum advertised price policy aimed at curbing unauthorized sales of its products.
Under the new agreement, which all dealers must sign, pricing will be the same across all channels for Easton, Bell, Giro, Blackburn and Riddell products. The policy prohibits third-party sales and sales to customers outside the U.S. and standardizes Internet pricing. It defines minimum prices for all products and requires a screening process for all prospective Internet sellers through an online authorization process to ensure they meet company guidelines. Internet retailers that do not gain authorization will no longer be permitted to sell Easton Bell products.
Through the new agreement the number of Internet retailers will decrease, according to company spokesperson Mark Riedy, and those that stay will be held to the same pricing guidelines as brick and mortar stores. Having a policy in place, which Easton Bell has not had in the past, also gives Easton the teeth to stop sales through unauthorized channels, Riedy said.
“There’s been a growing tension in general in the bike industry between retailers and brands around how brands are selling product and how they’re supporting retailers,” he said. “In general, EBS knew or felt it was the right thing to do to support dealers more clearly.”
Although it’s not an epidemic for Easton, any time product shows up in an off-brand location whether it’s a big box discount retailer or online liquidation site, it’s a problem.
“It could be five helmets and it looks horrible. It upsets people and it should. It’s really bad for the longevity of the EBS brand,” he added.
Donna Flood, president of Giro/Easton Cycling and the company’s COO, said Easton is serious about enforcing the new pricing policy and “is making significant investments to ensure our standards for quality, innovation and performance are upheld.”
“We value the relationships we’ve established with our strong dealer network, and want to do everything we can to drive joint success,” Flood said. “For our mutual protection, that involves ensuring end users purchase our products from authorized dealers capable of providing Easton-Bell Sports technology with a positive customer experience.”
A number of industry brands, like Louis Garneau, Reynolds and Dahon, have enacted formal pricing policies in recent months in an attempt to control discounters, online and otherwise, from undercutting IBDs that hold the line on MSRP.