Feb. 8, 2010: Shopatron: Industry’s online sales growing quicker than others

The powersports industry outperformed other retail sectors in e-commerce sales throughout 2009, according to a growing industry e-commerce provider.

Shopatron, which sells Suzuki, Ducati, Ski-Doo and other high-profile brands, said its same store sales for powersports brands largely grew by a double-digit percentage growth over the past year, company CEO Ed Stevens told Powersports Business.

Stevens says the company’s industry same store sales declined slightly in the first quarter in 2009 but then grew at a plus-20 percent clip in the second and third quarters and grew 13 percent in the fourth quarter.

“This is better performance than what we saw at large,” Stevens said. “The powersports industry outperformed our broader industries.”

Shopatron’s e-commerce system includes 30 powersports suppliers, including a number of high-profile aftermarket brands like LeoVince, Motion Pro and Yuasa. The e-commerce system allows consumers to order online at manufacturers’ Web sites, but those orders are then handled by dealers in the consumers’ local area. Consumers in some cases can decide whether to pick up their purchase at the dealership or have it sent directly to their residence.

The San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based e-commerce provider added a number of high-profile OEMs last year, including Ducati and Ski-Doo in the fall. As a result, the number of dealers working with Shopatron has increased substantially to more than 575.

“We think the Internet is out of the closet,” Stevens said. “You do hear some rumblings from people that they don’t have an Internet strategy, but I think the majority of Americans understand it’s a major force in the economy and it’s getting bigger and stronger.”

Particularly in powersports, as Stevens and Co. discovered. The company’s same store sales in its entire operation — the company offers products from more than 700 manufacturers — did not see as much percentage growth as the powersports industry. The company’s auto aftermarket sales, for example, had either negative growth or single-digit growth throughout 2009.

“I would say powersports rebounded faster than our broader industries did,” Stevens said.

Stevens says Shopatron is not making any business changes in 2010 that will affect dealers. To use the system, dealers face two fees, one from Shopatron and one from credit card processing companies. Stevens says Shopatron charges 3-4 percent of the order’s total purchase price while credit card fees usually are around an additional 2 percent. Dealers that use the system are provided with free training and support and have access to an online report that shows the latest hottest selling products in their area.

—Neil Pascale


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