PARK CITY, UT (BRAIN)—Backcountry.com, a highly successful and arguably the biggest online retailer of outdoor gear for climbers, hikers, skiers, snowboarders and paddlers, has begun selling bike parts, accessories and clothing through its online bike store.
Backcountry.com’s chief marketing officer Dustin Robertson said the site will not compete with online sales sites like Performance Bicycle or REI that cater more to the mid-market. Backcountry.com will focus on high-end products and customer service. “That’s what we’ve done in the outdoor industry, too. That’s the Backcountry brand—we play at the top end,” Robertson said.
The site’s newly launched bike category section carries components and accessories from Shimano, Fox, Sidi, Giro, Oakley, Look, Castelli, Campagnolo, Mavic, Park, Pedros, Pearl Izumi and 60 other brands. Robertson said Backcountry.com hopes to offer complete bikes for sale by spring 2009.
Several Backcountry.com employees have been cyclists for years so the decision to offer bike gear seemed natural and a long time coming, the company said. Two years ago, it began testing the waters, offering limited closeout items on Backcountry.com and Steepandcheap.com. Now, it has the infrastructure in place, and buy-in from several of the bike industry’s top brands.
“The references we have in the outdoor and ski industry are pretty impeccable,” Robertson said, adding that it helped many skeptic bike brands come on board. “Based on reaction people have had, the current vendors we have, people are excited to work with us. We’re going to leverage that enthusiasm.”
Backcountry.com was launched over 10 years ago with an investment of $2,000. By 2000 the company was making $1 million in sales and last year, it raked in more than $137 million in sales, Robertson said.
“One of our principles since day one has been to be the absolute best retailers. We have the best service; we never compete on price, we compete on premium product and premium service and that was key for the bike industry where most [online sales] are based on price. That was a breath of fresh air for vendors,” he added.
For more on Backcountry.com’s entry into online bikes sales and the state of Internet retailing, read the April 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.