Updated – How to Avoid Shopping Hell Part 3: The Backcountry.com Empire


I remember the first time I stumbled across Backcountry.com. It was a strange assortment of outdoors gear and snowboard, skate and kinda surf lifestyle gear. Saying it was a mish-mash several years back would be doing a disservice to mish-mashes everywhere. The thing is, it struck a chord with gear junkies. Now Backcountry.com appears to be the flagship brand for a host of business models. Lets be very clear those Utah folks aren’t dummies they’ve managed to corner an interesting section of e-commerce by injecting deals and levity into the marketplace. Of course, that may be their ultimate undoing. Before I get into the rumored weirdness lets talk about how they can save you life this holiday season

The easiest way to look at this is through segmentation There appears to be three main sites:

  • Backcountry.com: Ski, camp, snowboard, skate, surf, cycle, outdoors gear. Think of Backcountry.com as an REI that doesn’t suck. I know that’s hard to do but just try. Backcountry.com has an outlet tab that leads to Backcountryoutlet.com. Discounts, closeouts and older gear await you on the outlet.
  • DogFunk.com: OK, this is a younger site focused on the skater & snowboarder. Skinny wearin’ your sisters jeans skaters to baggy yo’d out MFM clones can line up over here.
  • Tramdock.com: Skiers and ski stuff. Yeah, nothing funny to say it is what it is.

Each of those sites represents a good cross section of action sports, outdoors and lifestyle consumers. I dig the sites and have purchased off of them. The pass through search on products is so efficient it’s painful. That means if I’m searching for something on Backcountry.com and it’s in stock on Dogfunk.com I will have the opportunity to purchase the product form the site of orgin. The layout and results are very well presented. I searched for Nomis on Backcountry and here’s the result. Pretty slick and you can heckle all you want but it’s these little things that create solid customer experience. Making it even more complete is what is not advertised.

Btw, Have you all seen their leaderboard tab which is a top Gear Guru ranking. This is a unique audience signifier/benefit that no other site does to my knowledge. Let me sum it up for you: they are building community around shopping and gear. This presents an added benefit for users which equals more time on site. That of course equals more conversions to to sale. Yeah … kinda smart. Like wicked smart.

If you aren’t familiar with ODAT it stands for One Deal at A Time. That is to say like Woot.com they sell through products and inventory one item at a time. We can go even farther back and say that QVC was doing this before everybody. Keep that nugget in your brain becasue the QVC name drop wasn’t a non-sequitor. Back to ODAT, oddly enough this commerce model is big in the halls of Backcountry.com and you can find the following ODAT sites slinging your favorite gear. They would be:

  • WhiskeyMilitia.com – ODAT for Dogfunk style skate, surf, snow, BMX products
  • SteepandCheap.com – More camping, hiking and general outdoors this ODAT site appears to sling for Backcountry.com
    Chainlove.com – Knowing the cycling segment tends to have a higher price point and spend I’m sure Chainlove was direct result of Backcountry.com getting into cycling.

Should you look to really be stretching your dollars this season the ODAT sites are the ones you need to keep an eye on. Say you are a consumer and your name is Jonny. Hey, that’s my name, imagine that. OK, now say you are looking for a skateboard for your niece. OK, I happened to be doing just that last night. She’s wants a skateboard for Christmas and damn it Uncle Jonny is going to come through. Lucky for me I happened by Whiskeymilitia.com. Yeah, I know – worst name ever. But, this site is called South of the North so really I can’t say shit. OK, back on track. Whiskey Militia had an Element complete that I drop shipped to my niece for about $63 total. Considering the complete retails was $134 and even with discounts I was looking at $90 setup — $63 is a steal. I am all for supporting my local skate shop but this was a bit too good to pass up. It should be noted that all of the sites listed above are part of Liberty Media. Liberty Media is the principle QVC owner. Will we see the Burton team slinging gear on QVC? Perhaps … You never know maybe the DC “Enjoy the Ride More”commercials are more true than we realize

So I was the big winner here. However, I will tell you this there’s a storm brewing in the e-commerce world bigger than the tsunami which occurs after my buddy Chris has five cups of coffee and a bowl of chili. This blowout can be exemplified by what is happening at Backcounty.com. Now it’s bad form and usually against agreement to have big markdowns in December on outerwear but BC appears to be running some snow brands at 20% off. In this case I assume most shops will let their prebookings at SIA speak as to how they feel: they will just order less. The thing is, and this economic climate is driving this to a head, Backcountry are really only a very small example. Burton has gear at 30% off direct. Quiksilver recently had snowboard gear at 40% off direct. The list goes on and on. Right now it’s survival of the fittest and if anybody is the big winner, it’s the consumer. So get out and buy because if the economy take a turn up you can be guaranteed these prices are gone. Then again you might be focused on keeping food in your fridge and not getting a new snowboard jacket.

Now, all of this comes out from purchasing on the sites and listening to what occurs around me. I’m not saying the above notes detail the business plans of Liberty Media. I could be 100% off base but I do see how these sites sell with shocking efficiency. So, if you are an agoraphobic, hate lines or just want a comprehensive selection you have the Backcountry.com empire are your fingertips. Especially if you want that exclusive $500 Mark XIII Burton Jacket for $170.

6 thoughts on “Updated – How to Avoid Shopping Hell Part 3: The Backcountry.com Empire

  1. Hey Jonny – JJ’s buddy Brad Bradley here. Great article! Just so you know that Muska complete (if that’s the one you bought) is selling offprice wholesale right now, so they might have actually still made a profit, albeit small. Let me know next time you need any Element gear. I might know someone. 🙂

  2. Large Volume (deep discounts) + Low overhead (relatively) + proven business model + deep pockets (QVC) = success $$$we’re suckers for cheap gear deals. the expansion of the reviews and their gear trade site are interesting. Moosejaw and others have the rate-your-gear as made popular by Amazon. i’m always intrigued how Backcoutry and Sierrasnowboard.com go back and forth in terms of stealing each others ideas.now when one of them take over the twittersphere, i’ll take notice.seacrest out.

  3. Fuck box internet warehouse stores like that. All they do is take a hands on sport and make it less hands on. Anyways anyone see that Sams Club is now selling burton. Word is that it was one of the big online retailers trying to pay some bills.

  4. An opinion form Avran (angrysnowboarder.com) that is … angry. Something new and different I see. But Avran is this from a rider/consumer POV? A shop employee POV? or both?

  5. It comes from not only a shop employee Pov but from a consumer POV. My company disbanded their e commerce to go the route of having social interaction with our customers. We like to establish a face to the name and not just customer 3948384 from Boise Idaho. Their return policy is ludacris. Oh I rode this board for 100 days hit rocks, jibbed, and broke it. I wasn’t satisfied with it so I want to return it. Oh ok no problem there. People see that and automatically assume its that way at any shop. Then there is their deals they offer. People are getting to the point that they think MSRP is price gouging. That one has been my personal favorite for a long time. Because a company sets MSRP and a shop sells it at that they’re price gouging. I wonder if the same people think that on new cars, furniture, and electronics. Or better yet people that come into the shop wasting shop peoples time to try on 15 pairs of boots only to order them online. I could go on and on about the negatives but only give a few positives for them. But I’ll say this its your money spend it how you want. Just remember when it comes to supporting the local shop or the internet shop. The local shop helps your local scene and your local economy.

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