‘The Fate of Retail’ Part 1| Brands and Retailers Working Together

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Part 1| Brands and Retailers Working Together

Often in sports we hear the T.E.A.M. acronym that Together Everyone Achieves More. This mantra is true in business, too. Iconic NFL coach Vince Lombardi famously once said “individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” While we strive for individual success, the best results occur when everyone works together in a combined team effort.

Teamwork is a key pillar to success in business. Most would consider their teammates the individuals that they see in the office each and every day. Often forgotten are the key business partners that are out there working hard to elevate your business and drive sales. Brands and retailers should consider each other teammates.

Developing relationships with key business partners doesn’t just happen overnight. It surely doesn’t create results right away. These strategic partnerships need to be treated as long-term investments. The examples below aren’t just feel good stories, they are having an impact on the bottom line for businesses. Do your part to help out key business partners. Together businesses can reach new heights that weren’t possible on their own.

TransWorld Business sat down with several businesses going above and beyond to support their key partners.

Sun Bum | Award Shows, Pizza Parties, and More

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The sunscreen brand is routinely applauded by their retailers for everything that they do for them. Asked about the importance of supporting retail partners, Sun Bum President Tom Rinks quickly responded that it is everything. He further explained by saying, “We wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the surf specialty retailers that took a chance on our little brand a few years ago, so we do everything we can to support them.” Sun Bum places a huge emphasis on supporting everyone that supports them—its athletes, employees, and of course, its retail partners.

Rinks is quick to admit that the brand might not have the money to spend on their retailer partners like some bigger brands. Instead the brand finds unique ways to authentically show their appreciation for all that their key partners do for them. Supporting key business partners isn’t measured by how much money is spent on them. Sun Bum is making a sizable impression by finding cool ways to support retailers. The ‘Shop of the Week’ winner and annual Sonny Awards are just a couple of the brand’s programs helping to elevate their key retail accounts.

Sonny Awards

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Sun Bum hosted the first Sonny Awards back in 2012 to recognize its retailers, athletes, and customers who did the most to support the brand over the past year. There is no prize money. The awards aren’t televised. There is no red carpet. Award winners are chosen by the Sun Bum team. Each winner receives their very own Sonny Award. Each year the Sonny Awards appear to get bigger and better. This past year the brand stepped up their game and got the company who makes the trophies for The Oscars to produce the Sonny Award(see above). The Sonny Awards have always been announced online but in 2017 the brand plans to host the awards at their new office space in Encinitas, Calif. The awards show is expected to include live music, tuxedos, and all sorts of fun.

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Shop of the Week 

Making sure to support retailers should be a no-brainer decision for all brands. “Shop of the Week” is an easy way for Sun Bum to remind the shops that they are thinking about them and appreciate what they are doing. Take the time to recognize those that are out on the retail floor every day telling your brand’s story and selling product.

Since the very beginning, for around 6 years now, every week without fail a retailer is chosen by Sun Bum for their ‘Shop of the Week’ award. The winner receives a social media shoutout and a pizza party courtesy of Sun Bum. The pizza party was added only a couple years ago but was instantly a huge hit among shop employees.

I think the time and energy we commit to our grassroots events tie back to sales by showing that we haven’t forgotten about specialty shop owners and their customers. That we still care about them and the stuff they care about. That their pain is our pain, literally.

It is important to remember that a program such as this can’t be measured like a more traditional marketing program. Sun Bum President Tom Rinks goes as far as saying that you shouldn’t even try to measure it. He further explains that “some things you don't measure, you just do because it feels good. If you measure everything you do and say, you lose your personality. That is what makes things/brands/shops interesting.” There is no doubt that the sunscreen brand continually finds new and fun ways to develop relationships with retailers.
Last year on Cinco De Mayo a bunch of giant piñatas of Sonny, the iconic mascot for Sun Bum were sent out to key specialty accounts along with a blindfold and piñata sticks. Surely nobody at those retailers showed up to work that day expecting a piñata of Sonny for Cinco De Mayo. Whether it is showing out at an event, hosting a sales contest, or sending out a new window display, Sun Bum is doing whatever it can to help out retailers. “I think the time and energy we commit to our grassroots events tie back to sales by showing that we haven’t forgotten about specialty shop owners and their customers. That we still care about them and the stuff they care about. That their pain is our pain, literally.” -Tom Rinks. When asked to share his advice with others, Rinks kept it simple by saying “just try to listen and be flexible”.

Evo’s La Familia Program

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Evo launched the La Familia program over a year ago, giving their customers the ability to buy online at evo.com and receive free shipping on in-store pickup at one of their local partner retailers. The program has quickly grown to 9 partner retailers in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Colorado. Over the next year evo plans to carefully grow the La Familia program roster to include over 20 specialty retail accounts.

One might be left scratching their head if they were told that a retailer is sending their customer through the doors of another retailer. Well… that is exactly what evo is doing. Founder / CEO Bryce Phillips defends the unconventional retail strategy by explaining “ultimately, we trust that the benefits for everyone involved will outweigh the potential downside. Those who succeed in retail create value for customers.  You must deliver so much more than just the products you sell. The more enjoyable experience the customer has, the more likely they are to shop again with evo or one of our retail partners. While some could see this leading to us losing sales by sending our customers into our competitors' doors, we believe that by delivering an elevated customer experience, conversion rates on evo.com will rise and loyalty will also move in the right direction.”

Specialty retail is vital for a long list of reasons. The passion, expertise and energy that is injected into local markets via great stores in many ways provides the life blood for the sports and industry that we love.

In areas where evo doesn’t have their own retail space, they now are able to send their customers directly into the front doors of the best nearby specialty retailers. Phillips points out that it is cool to hear stories of evo customers that were introduced to local shops through the La Familia program. The potential lifetime value of this introduction between customer and retailer is huge. Once the introduction is made it is entirely up to the retailer to generate future sales through service work and in-store purchases. The expected result is that retail partners will convert the increased foot traffic into sales. More importantly, the retailer has an opportunity to meet evo customers that live nearby.

"We firmly believe that brick and mortar, more specifically specialty retail is vital for a long list of reasons,” says Bryce Phillips, evo Founder/CEO. “The passion, expertise, and energy that is injected into local markets via these stores in many ways provides the life blood for the sports and industry that we love. Delivering extraordinary in-store experiences has been key to our success at evo.”

La Familia Program Director Ben Wallace explains that both evo.com and their partner specialty retailers acknowledge that each side offers a unique and valuable experience to the customer that the other cannot. He further adds “by creating a clearer and more integrated link between online and specialty retail, we see La Familia as a great opportunity for both sides to provide a better experience for our shared customers.”

La Familia was created to solve some of the fundamental challenges presented in today's complex retail environment. All parties involved in the La Familia program believe that delivering stronger customer experiences will build better businesses. Both Bryce Phillips and Ben Wallace pointed out that this is just the beginning for the La Familia program. The potential through this network of retailers is just starting to reveal itself and grows with each new partnership. Needless to say, evo is very excited about what the future holds.