ActiveJunky.com gives retailers exposure through consumer cash-back rewards

ActiveJunky.com takes a page from credit card cash-back programs to attract online consumers to outdoor retailers and brands. Even some brick and mortar specialty outdoor shops have signed on. SNEWS finds out the details.
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Anyone with a cash back rewards credit card knows the concept: Go through your credit card’s website to your favorite store’s website, buy something and get a certain percentage of cash back added to your cash back rewards.

Kevin McInerney, founder of ActiveJunky.com, said he wanted to take that concept and apply it in the outdoor industry, routing shoppers from his website to outdoor retailers' and manufacturers' websites where they shop and earn cash back.

“We’re building a shopping community around gear,” McInerney said. Outdoor “consumers are extremely passionate about what they’re buying. They spend a lot of money, and to be able to get a small percentage back on everything that they’re buying is great.”

McInerney has partnered with several retailers many that have brick-and-mortar stores as well, and most say it’s a brilliant idea for business, especially for specialty retailers with exisiting websites.

“I think it’s really innovative,” said Kate Runyon, Internet marketing director for Moosejaw, one of ActiveJunky.com’s partners. “We’re really psyched.” 

How it works

McInerney started ActiveJunky.com a few years ago as a way to blog about his passion for the outdoors and review products. But during the last year, he’s been developing the site to become an intermediary between consumers and the many outdoor specialty retailers out there. He recently launched the new model of ActiveJunky.com.


McInerney built on the retailer and manufacturer relationships he’d already established through his blogging to sign up his first partners. About 90 partners are listed on the site, offering cash-back rewards ranging from 2.5 percent to 10 percent of the purchase price. Retailers and manufacturers pay an undisclosed percentage of the sale to ActiveJunky.com to market on the website. ActiveJunky.com then gives a portion of that money back to the customer as the rewards. The more a retailer or manufacturer pays, the more cash back a customer gets, McInerney said.

“It’s a percentage of sales,” they pay, McInerney explained. “Some give a nice percentage, some give a small percentage. It kind of depends on the retailers’ marketing budgets and how concerned they are with driving traffic from other sites,” to their site.

Customers must sign up (for free) and in order to get the cash back, they have to be routed through ActiveJunky.com to their favorite retailer’s website. Once they make the purchase, the cash back rewards are stored up and sent out to them in the form of a check, or through PayPal, every quarter. Customers also have the option of donating their cash back to certain outdoor-related nonprofit organizations.

McInerney said the site could help brick-and-mortar retailers who might be otherwise unknown to outdoor enthusiasts. Perhaps a customer logs on to ActiveJunky.com and does a price comparison, finding a specialty retailer they’ve never heard of before offering the best price. McInerney said that customer most likely will shop through them.

Showcasing deals, reviews

McInerney emphasized that though customers find deals through his site, it’s not a deal or coupon site like PlanetGear.com or The Clymb. (Click here to read a SNEWS story on outdoor gear deal websites.)

“Those guys are actually shipping out products and their relationships are with the brand,” McInerney said. “We’re a technology company acting as an intermediary between the consumer and the retailers.”

In fact, The Clymb is an AcitveJunky.com partner, said Brian Boyd of the company.

“I was just really excited about the idea of loyalty and cash back on the gear side of things,” Boyd said. “That’s really what sold me on the idea.”

Boyd said he’s noticed a spike in traffic to The Clymb’s website since partnering with ActiveJunky.com. “We’ve got very positive feedback,” Boyd said.

In addition to directing customers to specialty retailers with websites, ActiveJunky.com has a community where customers can review products they purchase, which Moosejaw’s Runyon really likes.

“This provides a little more content and depth,” Runyon said. “Kevin really merged the best of two worlds.”

Helping specialty retailers

McInerney said he doesn’t think the site should threaten brick-and-mortar retailers. Many outdoor specialty retail stores also have websites, which is all that's required to partner with ActiveJunky.com. Outdoor shops like Appalachian Outdoors in State College, Pa., Outdoor Divas in Boulder, Colo., and Half-Moon Outfitters in South Carolina are listed as partners of the website.

“This (site) creates awareness about all of these cool businesses or retailers that sell gear," McInerney said. It’s kind of an awareness campaign as well. I’ve never talked to a retailer that didn’t like what we were doing.”

–Ana Trujillo

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