ATA Members Speak: Issues Facing Our Industry

By sharing their experiences, ATA members can help fellow industry professionals combat industry challenges to boost bowhunting and archery.
Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

Author: Cassie Scott

As an Archery Trade Association member, you see, hear, live and dream bows and arrows. You know the archery and bowhunting industry better than anyone, because you run it. In turn, the ATA wants to help you share your experience and expertise with all of our members.

To open those lines of communication, the ATA created this monthly interactive series, with real-world dialogue about the issues facing our industry, featuring ATA-member retailers, manufacturers and distributors.

This month, we interviewed:

1. How’s business? What do you think business will look like in five years?

Offering unique programs and classes is key to reaching new customers in the digital and social age. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

RK/Lancaster Archery Supply: 2015 and 2016 were challenging years, with much slower growth than 2012 to 2014. Business sales volume and new dealer inquiries have continually increased, especially since December. Our company will continue to lead and innovate by bringing the world’s largest selection of archery products to dealers who are looking for profitable, quality products for their 3-D, target and recreational archery customers. Technology has and will continue to play a larger role for us in serving our customers, which is why we’re launching a new website this summer.

KC/Spot-Hogg: 2017 started and has continued to be fast and furious for us. We overhauled our entire sight line, added a new release, and introduced a new arrow rest. We’ve developed a loyal consumer base, and they’ve been receptive of our improvements. Our goal is to continue to provide our customers with quality accessories to aid in enjoyment and success. If we continue to put the customer first, I believe we’ll continue down the path of steady growth.

KR/Kelly’s Outdoors: Trends in the mid-Atlantic region show a steady increase in crossbow sales and a decrease in vertical bow sales. Even though my gross numbers look good, my bottom line isn’t as healthy because vertical bow sales result in accessory sales. It’s easy to upsell a customer on the sight, rest, stabilizer, etc., and it’s comforting to know each of those items bring strong margins. Horizontal bows are usually sold as a package, leaving little room for upgrades or add-ons. If the trend continues, my operation will likely grow in the future because of service and repair work, mostly on crossbows. I’ve stocked my string and cable inventory to stay ahead of my competitors and box stores who can’t offer those services.

2. How are social media and the internet influencing or affecting your business?

Social media is a powerful tool for reaching customers, and sharing upcoming specials and events hosted by your shop.

RK/Lancaster Archery Supply: Social media is the dealer’s most effective way to advertise to their customers. We’ve used it with great success over the years. The internet and discount, online-only sales websites have been a cancer for our industry. Most of these discounters have no investment in inventory or our industry because they’re enabled by a distributor or even manufacturers who drop-ship the products directly to the retail customer. I believe strictly enforced MAP programs from the top brands are needed to combat this threat.

KC/Spot-Hogg: Social media and the internet aren’t going away and must be embraced. They offer an almost instant connection to the consumer, as well as give people a place to interact, share their experiences, and quickly get questions answered. We use both to provide information to consumers daily, although the ease of distribution and speed of available information comes with a price. Products seem to find their way to places at unbelievable prices. It’s a constant battle to ensure fair-pricing practices are followed, and brick-and-mortar shops seem to take the brunt of it. It’s important these stores stay in business and thrive from a sales factor, but also because retailers provide knowledge, a sense of community and personable interactions with customers.

KR/Kelly’s Outdoors: Even before entering my store, I’ve noticed the average customer has already researched products to the 10th degree. They can tell you the specs, color prices and availability. I’ve witnessed people scan products with their smartphone and instantly compare prices with online sources and other retailers. I must stay sharp in my knowledge of products and pricing. Not many customers want to wait for a product to be sent to my store for pickup because they can have the same product delivered to them from another source. Social media help us get the word out, but I know I’m behind the times with my website, and I realize I must sell on the web to grow my business.

3. If you could play king for a day, what needs to happen in the archery industry to benefit your company the most? Why?

The annual ATA Trade Show provides a place for industry members to come together, do business and discuss issues facing the industry. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

RK/Lancaster Archery Supply: Eliminate third-party fulfillment drop-shipping by distributors and manufacturers who enable discount online websites to exist. These distributors benefit from increased volume at the expense of brick-and-mortar dealers. Plus, industry brands are being devalued. The online discounter is destroying margins and brand value with no investment in inventory or the industry. That’s one of the biggest threats to our industry, along with poor health of our white-tailed deer herd and huge losses from crossbow inclusions during archery seasons.

KC/Spot-Hogg: Archery still needs a mainstream “champion.” It needs a venue/circuit/competition that’s fast-paced and interesting enough to attract non-endemic sponsors to generate a prize pool that’s worthy of pursuing the “professional” dream. Currently, unless a household is already involved in archery, it’s unlikely they know who the archery celebrities are. We need something that brings archery superstars to the public. That will encourage participation at a younger age, and all aspects of archery will grow. When you look at the increase in archery sales from the exposure of a few hit movies, it’s easy to see how this would work.

KR/Kelly’s Outdoors: If I could change one thing, I’d like for customers to see what dealers go through to keep their doors open. Lots of people believe dealers are “killing it.” They think every SKU in my shop is being keystoned (doubled in price). If people only knew what the margins were and what business expenses were really like, I believe they would be more sympathetic to retailers.

4. What new innovations or products from your company should most excite the industry?

Understanding your customer demographics can help you stock your shelves with the newest archery innovations they seek. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

RK/Lancaster Archery Supply: Our new Galaxy bow line for 2017/2018 includes recurve and longbows for target and recreational shooting, as well as bowhunting. These innovative bows have advanced features and high performance, with incredible dealer profit margins at an affordable retail price.

KC/Spot-Hogg: This year we introduced the new Multi-Ring Technology pin guard for all our multi-pin sights. It’s a simple idea that produces large results regarding improved accuracy. The MRT allows for a more consistent peep-to-sight centering in varying lighting, and that equates to more consistent shooting and better groups. We also launched the Keeton release, which combines a traditional wrist strap and trigger release, with an integrated grip. The combination makes drawing easier and lessens the stress on shoulders, wrists and elbows. It works great for people with existing injuries and helps prevent them. Less fatigue and stress lead to more productive practice, and result in better accuracy.

5. What marketing strategies do you use to attract, hook and engage customers?

Archery pro shops are about so much more than products and technical advice, yet increasing numbers of consumers must be socially or digitally “hooked” before they’ll consider visiting a shop. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

KR/Kelly’s Outdoors: I have a simple strategy: I try to have the right product, at the right time, for the right price. WE work hard for our customers. At the end of every transaction I always ask if they’ve had a good experience, because if they have, they’ll tell their friends to come. And if that person has the same experience, they’ll do the same and business will continue to grow.

6. How has the start of 2017 compared to the past few years in keeping up with orders and inventory?

Rob Kaufhold, president of Lancaster Archery Supply, says his company has seen improved order-fill rates and reduced backorders due to better planning and reporting analytics. This knowledge helps him better stock his shelves and serve his customers. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

RK/Lancaster Archery Supply: We’ve seen greatly improved order-fill rates and reduced backorders due to better planning and reporting analytics by our IT and purchasing departments. We’ve been able to maintain a 98 to 99 percent-plus fill rate throughout the first quarter for the first time since we began fill-rate analytics. This may have been helped by manufacturers who were carrying more inventory due to slower sales than expected.

If you have questions or want to voice your concerns, please contact the ATA’s business office at (866) 266-2776 or (507) 233-8130.

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