The Sporting Goods Industry Online
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 Established Mail Order Companies to be The Big Losers in Internet Commerce?
By Staff Reports 
Dec. 24,1997
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Mail order companies. They are big and powerful.  They sell products to virtually the entire geography of your market. In the Sporting Goods Industry, some of them now do entire league and government bids. In awards, they "ASI" product to big corporations, non profit groups, and the general public. 

Will maturing digital commerce make these entities more powerful, and reps and dealers less powerful and profitable?  

The following is an ongoing analysis that will help answer these and other questions.  

1. In sporting goods, there are about 5-8 truly big mail order players. Not all are head to head competitors. Right now, their online versions of their catalogs are minimally good at best. However, they are learning fast and as a group seem to be making progress at a fair pace.
However, another view of their online efforts  is that they are falling behind, at lightening speeds, every day. New competition is simply now coming at them literally by dozens every month. They are called sporting goods and awards stores with newly launched web pages.  

Sporting goods and awards stores are now starting to have a small effect on the mail order market. They will become a far bigger factor in the spring of 1998. This will happen through their web page presence, with them having their products up for sale on the internet, and even more so when they advertise super specials. Specials that match or beat the mail order guys. Losing one or fifty of these cyber bids won't spell doom for established mail order houses. But, when there are hundreds and thousands of these small cyber transactions going on every day, 24 hours a day, then, couple that  with growing confidence of millions of new cyber customers, well that spells massive competitive problems for the standard catalog mail order  type operation.  

The local dealer will still keep many of his "loyal" local customers. The mail order house , now that he is on a level playing field with thousands of competitors instead of 5-8, will be challenged for its very existence. 

To be continued. 

Forces that will help validate and give confidence to commerce on the internet. 
The  Online program of the Better Business Bureau 
Programs from local Chambers of Commerce. 
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, AICPA, WebTrust Program. 

Signifant help from-Governments- State, Local  
and National- WE DOUBT IT. 

Coming Soon: 
Where do you fit in all of this?   
How do you prepare?  
Who will be your new competition?  
Will traditional profit margins change?  
Will this "positive spiral" be pushed mostly by dealers, reps, manufacturers, or customers?   
What will be the manufacturers role of the future?  
What will be the reps role of the future?  

Come back in about a week, and we will begin discussing these questions and more. It is our sincerest hope that through electronic communications, we can help solve our current and future problems.  

Send comments, suggestions, etc. to 
Copyright © 1997 R-Sports, Div. of Rousseau's Sporting Goods And Awards, Inc. 

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The Digital Estate 
by  Chuck Martin 
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The Road Ahead -Revised Edition 
Bill Gates  

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