Callaway Golf wins business through feedback, retail

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SAN JOSE, CA - Having a direct dialogue with consumers is crucial to running a retail business, according to a panel here at yesterday's Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition.

David Schofman, CEO of Callaway Golf Interactive, Austin, TX, presented Callaway Golf's e-commerce store Shop.CallawayGolf.com's strategy in a panel called "Consumer Goods Manufacturers: How the Web is Changing Their Business Model."

A major tactic employed by the golf-supply retailer is building customer profiles and creating a conversation with customers based on this knowledge.

"The data that you gather can fundamentally change how you manufacture your products," Mr. Schofman said. "It is difficult to understand what consumers want until you come in and see what consumers are buying and how they are buying it. At the end of the day, the consumer decides. And consumers will talk to you when they know you are listening."

The e-commerce site http://www.shop.callawaygolf.com/ takes orders and then lets affiliate retailer fulfill them based on inventory and location. This lets customers interact with retailers on a more local basis.

"Once an order comes in, all of the retailers in our network view the orders, compare them against their inventory and raise their hand, saying 'I have the product,'" Mr. Schofman said. "Within a 24-hour period of the consumer purchasing, a retailer processes the order making the average time for delivery only two and a half days."

This format can be challenging as retailers are competing against each other. According to Mr. Schofman, however, it is not a problem. If the Callaway Golf brand is aggressive and communicating to its customers through its Web site, then the retailers will benefit.

"The coolest part that I like is that it provides an e-commerce platform for all of our suppliers, so even if you are a small shop, you can raise your hand and say that you have the product and you are close to the retailer," Mr. Schofman said. "It really levels the playing field."

Ultimately the strategy is about customer service and building customer loyalty.

"It is very frustrating for consumers to go online and have to search to find one product here and one product there," Mr. Schofman said. "It is important to have one place where consumers can go for all of their needs and we can find the product when they want it."

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