In 2006, SnowSports Industries America (SIA) began working with eBay to track snowboarding equipment sales on the online auction behemoth due to a hunch that the traffic was overwhelming. The results of the data confirmed suspicions that huge volumes of snowboard hardgoods are moving on the site, and the majority of it was new equipment. Between August 2007 and March 2008, 57,170 snowboards were sold on eBay, of which 37,182 were new. According to SIA’s calculations, this translates to nearly 6.5% of all new snowboards sold during the season. Add another 14.5% sold via other Internet retailers, and the numbers become truly staggering.
While this generally means great deals on new product for consumers, manufacturers are up in arms about the situation and are putting a great deal of effort into curtailing these sales which can erode brand integrity, drive down overall market value, and undermine the supply chain. "As a means to protect Ride’s Authorized Retailers, we do not permit eBay sales and work aggressively to enforce it," says Ride Brand Director Scott Mavis. "Our goal is to protect, promote, and support the specialty retailer and e-bay is not a channel of distribution we deem appropriate to that end."
On the retailer side of the coin, there are mixed emotions. Many shops feel that it is a legitimate way to move outdated, overstocked product that companies won't take back, but other companies are bending manufacturers rules and selling in season product below MSRP. "It’s a double edge sword," says ZJ's Boarding House's Todd Roberts. "It’s one way to move a few old pieces that you want to remove from your sales floor so you can save the valuable retail space for in season product. The bad thing is that we find in season product on Ebay for a substantial discount and then we have consumers finding that and asking us to match price. That really stings!!!"
Stay tuned to our July issue for an in depth look at this trend and what it means to you.