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Swell.com launched a new site for core surf shops this week called Coreshopsdirect.com. The site is a directory of core shops around the country and an e-commerce platform for selling branded store merchandise.
So far, about 100 stores are featured on the site. The shops and Swell share the revenue generated.
I asked Swell CEO Stacy Clark about Swell's plan for Coreshopsdirect.com.
Does Swell envision becoming the e-commerce operator for core shops?
Swell's sole focus for the Coreshopsdirect.com site and program today is signing up shops, promoting their brands and selling their products. Each shop brand has such a unique identity and story to tell. We are proud to provide a broader audience through our site and catalog. What the program is set up to do is put money in shop's pockets by moving product they have on their shelves, increasing shop awareness and driving foot traffic to their doors.
Will the products expand beyond shop T's?
Yes! We plan to sell any item that shops have produced under their brand. A couple examples already for sale are hats, stickers and we even have coffee from T-Patterson!
I also saw on the Board Retailers Association site that Swell is offering to make the T's as well? Does Swell want to become a private label source for core shops?
Because we have the ability to create very small quantities, we offer that as an option versus consignment so there is zero out of pocket for the shop. Some shops have asked if we can help produce product on their behalf. While we aren't going after this as a business, we are happy to do what we can to help shops operate more profitably and it works out because is a natural fit for the resources we have at Swell.
Will this be a revenue generator for Swell? Why move into this new business area?
Yes, it will generate revenue for the shops as well as Swell. What we are most excited about is that it's a brand differentiator that also helps strengthen a very important industry distribution channel that we do not compete in. Oversaturation by leading industry brands has forced us to think differently about how we partner to do business and create a unique customer experience online.
Here is the press release about the new venture:
CoreShopsDirect.com, a National Directory & Online Store for Local Surf Shops, Launches Today from Swell.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mike Figueroa
August 12, 2009 - San Clemente, CA - Today Swell.com, top online retailer of surf apparel launched CoreShopsDirect.com. CoreShopsDirect.com is a nationwide directory, which showcases the country's best surf shops and their branded t-shirts and gear. The site also gives each shop the opportunity to tell their history, promote upcoming events, and provide customers with the info they need to contact their favorite new shop. Customers can locate shops through the site's search functions and enter contests to win swag from featured shops.
CoreShopsDirect.com was created to promote the local surf shops that are an essential part of every town's surf scene. In the current economy, many local shops struggle with shrinking profit margins and chain-store competition, but the culture of the local surf shops is key to the surf industry's roots. "Local shops are an essential part of the surf community, acting not only as the ultimate authority on brands and gear, but a gathering place for surfers" said Mike Figueroa, GM of Specialty Channels. "We created CoreShopsDirect.com to provide local surf shops with 3 key elements of support: to help generate more revenue, to reach beyond their local customer base, and to create more of an online presence."
Selling the local shops' merchandise online - the e-commerce component - is powered by Swell.com's current e-commerce platform. The existing infrastructure makes it simple for a surf shop to quickly and easily make their products available to online customers. The shops participate in a revenue-sharing arrangement with Swell.com for all products sold through the CoreShopsDirect.com site. Currently there are 100 surf shops, with a combined total of over 150 different products, represented in the CoreShopsDirect.com directory, with even more on the way each week.
In July (before the actual launch), Core Shops introduced copious amounts of local surf shop tees by incorporating the product into Swell.com's inventory. The overall response was platinum. Core logo tee sales were already in full affect, which completely stoked the shops that were already part of the program. "I'm not sure what this whole CoreShopsDirect thing is really about, but ever since Billy signed me up for it I have been receiving checks in the mail," jokingly quoted Daniel Johnston, co-owner at XB (Xtremely Board) in Lynn Haven, FL. "I guess Billy isn't as much of a narc as I thought he was. Cheers to the program that sends me checks in the mail every month." Pete Erickson, manager at Whalebone in Nags Head, NC, added, "Core Shops Direct.com is a great source that represents the roots of surf retail."
To secure the initial 100 shops, Swell.com bought a big white van, slapped some stickers on the side, and sent their own "35 year-old grom" Bill Laity, on a mad cap 2-month road trip from the Gulf Coast of Texas, to the icy waters of Maine. Billy's mission was to get local shop owners frothing on the CoreShopsDirect.com program. He personally visited every surf shop in sight, interviewed the owners, grabbed their products, and shipped em' back to the CoreShopsDirect.com headquarters. Billy's all set to wind his way up the West Coast before we ship him off to Hawaii to do the whole thing all over again. Anyone brave enough to follow Wild Bill on his latest adventures can come along for the ride on Twitter at Twitter.com/CoreShopsDirect. Local surf shops interested in being listed on CoreShopsDirect.com can contact Billy directly at (949) 370-8919.
Swell.com is the premier destination for surf fashion, featuring a wide variety of apparel, accessories and gear from the World's leading surf brands as well as those that are up and coming. Since 1999, Swell has been committed to offering customers an eclectic assortment paired with great service. Find us online at www.swell.com or call us at 1-800-ALL-SURF (1-800-255-7873).