The Shopatron Advantage

Shopatron leapt into the marine industry a few years ago, when it signed Evinrude as a customer.

Then, last year, the e-commerce company began focusing on expanding its portfolio of marine brands. Most recently, the firm added Suzuki Marine and Minn Kota to its client list.

However, there’s a good chance that you haven’t heard about Shopatron.

The San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based e-commerce firm has only signed about 20 marine manufacturers as clients.

In addition, the company, which has a presence in 35 industries across 10 countries, doesn’t spend a lot of energy on marketing. It’s profitable and growing by about 50 percent a year, which is about as fast as it can or wants to grow, so marketing takes a backseat.

Finally, most marine manufacturers and dealers who use the company’s services don’t have an interest in spreading the word about it. It’s a competitive advantage that they’d like to keep to themselves.

But it’s also a competitive advantage that you may want to look into.

The way it works
Shopatron provides manufacturers with an e-commerce system that allows them to sell to consumers without bypassing their dealer network.
Consumers come to the manufacturers’ site to find items they need or want to buy. Rather than send them to a dealer locator, Shopatron clients can take the order on their own website using Shopatron technology.

Once a day, all the orders go into an online queue dealers can access. Or if they’d like, dealers can sign up to receive e-mail or text alerts. Dealers that have the ordered items in stock can flag those orders, and the flagged dealer closest to the customer is chosen to fulfill each order.

“To be financially strong, dealers need their manufacturers to drive sales to them,” says Ed Stevens, founder and CEO of Shopatron. “This is just the modern version of that.”

The big advantage
This system is a win, win for dealers. It doesn’t cost anything for them to sign up for the service. It’s their manufacturers that pay between $1,999 and $29,900, depending on the version of the system they choose. And by simply visiting the Shopatron queue, dealers have the opportunity to increase their accessories sales, thus turning their inventory more frequently.

But perhaps the biggest advantage of Shopatron for dealers is the data they gain access to on what is selling in their territory and around the world. Not only do the sales reports they receive show the orders they win, but they also show the orders other dealers fulfilled, even on product they haven’t carried.

Stevens explains that once Shopatron has been in an industry for three to five years, its sales reports typically become an indispensable tool for dealers.

“They change their inventory behavior because they get to turn their inventory,” he says. “When a dealer is educated on what is selling, they are more confident in buying it.”

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