Retailers, Manufacturers Must Join Forces to Create Customers

Teamwork between retailers and manufacturers will boost archery, bowhunting and industry.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Jackie Holbrook

Everyone working in the archery and bowhunting industry is lucky to be part of such a fun business. From product designers to bow-shop technicians, the industry is flush with passionate people who are boosting business and creating the next generation of archery enthusiasts. Whether it’s manufacturers building cutting-edge gear or retailers outfitting newcomers with the right equipment, everyone strives to maximize profits, increase archery and bowhunting participation, and deliver quality products to customers.

Manufacturers and retailers need to work together because teamwork benefits the entire industry. “You can go online, buy a bow and ship it to your house, but how you set it up, shoot it, and become proficient with it, that’s where bow shops and instructors come in,” said Mark Copeland, chair of the ATA Retail Council.

Consider these best practices to maximize retailer-manufacturer relationships:


Respect Business Partners

A good working relationship starts with respecting your colleague’s business practices. Take the time to get to know your business partner and their products or shop. For retailers, this means looking beyond the latest products and understanding the company. If you’re going to do business with a manufacturer, you should take time to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s warranty policies, territory restrictions, sales channels and minimum advertised pricing policies.

Manufacturers should educate themselves on the retailers stocking their products. Learn about the shops’ primary customers and other products in the shop. This information will help manufacturers determine if the retailer is good for the brand value.

Connect with buying groups at the 2019 Trade Show. Photo Credit: NABA

Connect Through Buying Groups

Buying groups benefit retailers and manufacturers in many ways. By joining a buying group, retailers boost their buying power through access to the best prices and products. “You have the strength and power of the group,” said Deb Colgrove, executive secretary of the Archery Range and Retailers Organization buying group.

Buying groups allow retailers to order products in bulk, which helps them negotiate the best price. At year’s end, ARRO members also receive a dividend, a percentage back from purchases made with participating manufacturers.

“The more business our member-retailers do with our participating manufacturers, the bigger the dividend,” Colgrove said. “It benefits manufacturers to be members because that’s who our retailers are looking to buy from.”

Buying groups can also streamline the selling process and make communication more efficient. “If retailers or manufacturers are having issues, it’s easier for them to communicate through an office,” Colgrove said. “People can reach out to us and we can help.”

Other ATA-member buying groups include Nation’s Best Sports (NBS), National Archery Buyers Association (NABA), Mid-States Distributing and Sports Inc.

Contact information for ATA-member buying groups is available in the ATA Show Guide and Membership Directory at the member login portal on


Communication is Vital

Teaming up requires communication and the willingness to work in a partnership.

In a Forbes article about working relationships between retailers and manufacturers, writer Ken Harris noted that Kantar Retail identified five traits which trading partners consider vital in collaborative relationships: simplicity, consistency, creativity, involvement and follow-through.

One common area where retailers and manufacturers work together is marketing. Manufacturers understand their own products, and have marketing information and unique ways to advertise. Through development research, product testing and past performance, manufacturers understand why customers choose their product.

That information can help retailers with their sales pitches to customers. Likewise, retailers know what sells best in their store, and should convey that information to manufacturers. For example, clever product placement or in-store advertising can improve sales.

ATA Connect is an easy place to share ideas with ATA members from across the country. The online platform serves as a forum for retailers to ask questions, offer advice, address issues and share success stories. Currently, ATA Connect is only open ATA-member retailers but coming soon ATA Connect will host a forum for all ATA members.

The Trade Show is an opportunity to connect with manufacturers, retailers, and our own knowledgeable staff. Photo Credit: ATA

Attend the ATA Trade Show

The annual ATA Trade Show is your opportunity to meet face to face with thousands of other retailers and manufacturers. This member-driven event is closed to the public and meant to promote the market. As you begin to prepare for next year’s show, Jan. 10-12 in Louisville, remember it’s an opportunity to develop successful partnerships. Whether you’ll be attending the show as a retailer or manufacturer, think about how working together will improve the industry for everyone.


Get Involved

The ATA board of directors consists of 20 members, 12 elected members and eight appointed members. These members represent manufacturers, retailers, buying groups and a sales representative. Board members help ATA carry out its mission of making the industry profitable through decreasing business overhead, reducing taxes and government regulations, and increasing participation in archery and bowhunting. There are board meetings that are open to ATA members and this is an opportunity for all members to bring their ideas and issues to the board.

ATA’s Retail Council provides guidance and support to the ATA member-retailers. Members of the ATA board of directors lead the Retail Council. “We’re a voice for retailers,” Copeland said. “Some people don’t realize we have an active group that will take their interests and message to the board room.”

Copeland encourages retailers to get involved by serving on the Retail Council, participating in the Council’s surveys and sharing business practices on ATA Connect. Copeland hopes retailers and manufacturers can understand the important roles they play in creating lifelong archers and bowhunters.

Copeland said manufacturers can produce the world’s best products and ship them to consumers everywhere, but new archers still need pro shops to fit the bow and help them shoot. If archery retailers aren’t there, consumers will probably hang up the bow.

If you have questions contact Kurt Smith, ATA’s director of industry relations, at

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