Tackle Distributor Casts Wide Net To Hook Online Retailers, Consumers

FishingLife, a tackle distributor and provider of Internet solutions for the sport fishing industry, is set to launch in-store promotions for its member retailers to help bait consumers to shop online for the spring.

The company will begin providing brick-and-mortar customers with kits of promotional materials, among other things, as early as this month in hopes of generating Web traffic for the retailers.

Sales representatives also will give consumers business cards with their purchases that would allow them to save 10 percent on their first online purchase, company representatives said.

“To really have an Internet program that can be successful in the market, you have to blend new economy and traditional means of doing business,” said David Raehpour, president/CEO of FishingLife, Clearwater, FL.

FishingLife, which has more than 1,000 fishing retailer members — 350 of which are e-commerce-enabled — offers its members other Internet solutions through its online store network, TackleZone.com, at no cost. In exchange, FishingLife is able to increase its volume by placing its products in retailers' stores.

“For almost all of our customers, this is their first entrance into providing full-service e-commerce for their customers,” Raehpour said. “So we take care of everything for them, from the fulfillment of the product to the management of the Web site to the billing and the customer service.”

Raehpour said FishingLife — www.fishinglife.com — also allows retailers to market tackle through its online magazine, which is distributed via e-mail to 150,000 anglers each week. The informational newsletter includes specials, promotions and hyperlinks that drive consumers to a retailer's branded Web site, he said.

“We drive demand toward our retailers through that magazine,” he said.

Online purchase orders, meanwhile, are shipped to the retailer's brick-and-mortar site in an effort to increase store traffic, Raehpour said. Retailers also can ship products directly to the customer, giving them an opportunity to reach consumers outside their local area, he said.

Bait and tackle retailer The Tackle Box, Marathon, FL, signed up with TackleZone four months ago, and while the company has not seen an increase in sales, it has been able to expand its reach to South America, Hawaii and Singapore, among other places, said president and co-owner David Brown. Before using TackleZone, The Tackle Box had an informational Web site that was not e-commerce-enabled, he said.

“For a small business like my own, it's hard for me to compete with other companies,” Brown said. “[TackleZone] has given us an opportunity to step right up with the big boys and be able to expand our business without having to expand inventory or space.”

FishingLife also provides its offline retailer members with an online warehouse, www.tacklewarehouse.com, that allows them to track inventory and stock accordingly, Raehpour said.

Late last month, the company opened its e-mail newsletter space for marketers that are looking to reach anglers, Raehpour said. FishingLife recently signed an agreement with Rhino Linings to allow the manufacturer of sprayed-on plastic bed liners for truckers to market to FishingLife's e-mail base of 150,000, he said.

Citing a significant crossover between truckers and anglers, Raehpour said Rhino began with a small advertisement encouraging anglers to register with the company for a $20-off coupon for a bed liner treatment.

Raehpour said FishingLife plans to extend the marketing opportunity to other companies within the next six months.

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