Amazon Launches Store for X Games Crowd

Discussion
Jun 28, 2012

Amazon.com sells everything. At least, it often seems that way. The latest category to get the Amazon treatment is "action sports" with the e-tail giant offering an extensive selection of skateboards, BMX bikes, ski and snowboard equipment and the like to those who enjoy getting a little air between their feet and the ground.

To help establish street cred among those who like their sports extreme, Amazon announced it was sponsoring eight-time skateboarding champion Andy Macdonald. As part of the deal, Mr. Macdonald will wear Amazon’s logo on his helmet and be featured in exclusive videos on the site. He will also offer tips and product recommendations on the site.

"[The endorsement] is a big deal for action sports in general, because it’s bringing a new brand to our sports," Mr. Macdonald told the Boston Herald. "It’s kind of a must in our world … in order to maintain your legitimacy and let people know that you’re serious."

Amazon’s move into action sports will put it into direct competition with retailers such as Zumiez, one of the leaders in skateboarding and snowboarding categories. As The Seattle Times reports, Zumiez has had same-store increases for nine straight quarters and its online sales were up 7.3 percent on a year-over-year basis for the first quarter.

Zumiez is on an expansion path, including its recent acquisition of Blue Tomato, a European snowboarding and surfing merchandise company.

"Joining forces with Blue Tomato represents the next step in our strategic plan to build the leading global action sports retail business. Europe has a large, vibrant and growing action sports community, which Gerfried (Schuller, founder of Blue Tomato) and his team have skillfully tapped into through a broad offering of authentic brands and products, a differentiated retail experience, and superior customer service," said Rick Brooks, CEO of Zumiez, in a statement.

Discussion Questions: How will Amazon’s venture into action sports affect the retail business in that industry? What will it mean for brick and click merchants such as Zumiez?

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3 Comments on "Amazon Launches Store for X Games Crowd"

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Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Amazon’s entry may hurt Zumiez and others in the areas of accessories and clothing, but it should not have much impact on boards and other items that consumers like to try out first, or have built for them in the store. Unlike many stores that may serve as showrooms for Amazon, Zumiez and other action sport specialty shops have experts on-hand to help consumers make decisions for custom built items, whether it’s choosing trucks for a skateboard or snowboard goggles. It’s a lesson that other retailers can follow as they compete with Amazon and other, lower priced, online merchants.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust
Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. All the moaning and complaining about them is quite stale. Aside from financial assets, there’s not too much that they do that other retailers can’t do if they have the commitment, determination, insight, and courage. Big A has built a business by focusing on logic and customer focused basics, extremely well. Others may have had different methods that worked well enough for them in the past, that may now feel pressure from Amazon. Ultimately, Amazon is like a powerful candle that shines light upon the weaknesses of competitors (which are its opportunities). From not running retail spaces, to extreme buying power, they have some immediate, powerful advantages. Still, b&m retailers have to accept that it’s not the 1950s anymore; scalability, efficiency, logistics, and price competition are more powerful than ever. To survive and thrive today, they must find the golden formula to make physical retail work for them, even if the formula includes a complete change of upper management, closing locations, revamping inventory, changing store design/footprint, refocusing on customers in a REAL way, etc. There’s a cadre of BrainTrust colleagues here that can help retailers such as Zumiez (or anyone) fight back, if there’s a true commitment.… Read more »
Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Bravo Ken Lonyai. Very well said.

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