If you stopped by the Ruffwear booth at Outdoor Retailer, you may have experienced déjà vu. No, you weren't at Summer Outdoor Retailer, and there’s a reason Ruffwear showcased the products they brought here last August.
The company is re-defining the way they sell products, moving from a traditional pre-season program where companies place orders months in advance to an “at-once” model. By cutting lead time from 90 to 30 days, dealers can order products that are relevant to current weather conditions and receive them sooner, said Susan Strible, director of marketing for Ruffwear.
“Right now, buyers have to guess what they need for the upcoming season,” she said. “What happens when winter doesn’t happen like everyone expected?”
Currently, companies have a Costco-style mind-set, buying in bulk a few times a year. Ruffwear is changing the game so retailers can place smaller, more frequent orders and maintain a flow of products to meet current demands.
To incentivize customers, Ruffwear launched its Latitude program last January, which is similar to Amazon Prime. For a $99 annual fee, members get free shipping for purchases over $100 and discounts.
Kate Ketschek, who manages public relations for Ruffwear, said the pilot program has been well received so far, and many companies are renewing their memberships.
An at-once model means quicker cash flow, reduced waste and less expenses for storing surplus gear. It also helps companies make changes to products as needed, instead of waiting for a big shipment to run out.
Being sustainable and reducing waste is one of Ruffwear's major goals, beginning with making the products people want when they want them. That’s why Ruffwear is also implementing a shopping market model at their factories, so all materials are stocked on site.
This new “supermarket of products,” as Ketschek calls it, is something no other manufacturer has done before.
“Whenever I listen to retailers’ challenges, no one has solutions,” she said. So, Ruffwear is taking a chance, and hoping that the risk they take will be less than the risk they were previously taking while forecasting purchases in a world of constant change.
Retailers interested in joining Latitude should contact detailer services.