Todd Litzman Q&A: Helping to build outdoor brands

SNEWS chatted with Brandwise President Todd Litzman, who, together with his wife Janetta Litzman, founded the company 15 years ago. The pair are still running the business and engaging the community through their work with nonprofits such as Choose Outdoor and Gift for Life.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:



SNEWS chatted with Brandwise President Todd Litzman, who, together with his wife Janetta Litzman, founded the company 15 years ago. The pair are still running the business and engaging the community through their work with nonprofits such as Choose Outdoor and Gift for Life.



Tell the outdoor industry exactly what Brandwise can do for them.


What Brandwise does for companies in the outdoor industry, and other places, is to provide them with tools to streamline their business — whether that’s through sales force automation, where they can take orders efficiently; putting data into a central location that’s easily accessible; reducing costs of catalog production; or getting orders in faster so they’re ahead of the curve on the process of ordering stuff overseas. Those kinds of things, as well as providing them with good detail analytics on what happened in their last seasons, what’s going on in their marketplaces and, more importantly, what’s not going on in the marketplace by identifying people who have bought from then in the past and aren’t buying now.



Why did Brandwise initially decide to target the outdoor industry?


Initially it started because we had a person who worked for us for a long time who went and worked for a company in the outdoor industry, so he brought the concept of our business intelligence tool — Sales Optimizer — into the industry. We started looking at it and realized it’s an industry that’s very manual in its processes, so we decided that it would make sense for us to try to bring some of our technology in.

How has this expansion of services helped your company?

It’s been interesting. We’re spread across multiple verticals, which, from a Brandwise perspective, gives us stability in bad economic times where you’ve got the outdoor industry doing well and the gift side not doing quite as well.

Another thing it did was give us a view on a completely different way of doing business. Most of our business was annual; so in other words you’re selling 12 months out of the year. The outdoor industry — a lot of it is seasonal. They have very short selling cycles. It’s a much different way of selling, the visual side of it is different, the merchandising side of it is different. It gave us a lot of tools that we could use in the outdoor industry, and also were able to take back to our other sectors.

How has your company helped companies in the outdoor industry?

The companies that have been able to embrace the type of technology that we provide — companies like Osprey, Adidas Outdoor, Brooks Running — have, from a top-down perspective, realized that this type of technology even though it’s very difficult to implement and maintain, is the right thing for their businesses. We’ve been able to help them streamline those processes, give them more insight into their business, and it’s had a positive effect on them.



Why do you attend Outdoor Retailer?


The way we deal with all of our industries is to have a face with the name of the company. We’ve always done that. We want people to be able to meet us and know who we are. Also, for us to be able to see the way that they do business, to be able to sit down with them and show them how our systems are linked to the way that they do business. It’s difficult to do that a lot of the time over the phone or a webinar. Making that face-to-face contact has always been a big deal for us.

What are some new projects and technologies Brandwise is working on that might be of interest to the industry?

What we’re working on right now, which is getting most of the buzz for the last six or seven months, is our iPad app called VMI [Visual Merchandiser for iPad]. We’ve started to release that into our core markets in gift and home. We have that in a few hands for beta testing in the outdoor industry. This gives us just one more platform. We focus on being platform-independent so you can run your stuff on a Mac, a PC or an iPad or other devices, so this is just one more device on which our applications can run.

--Ana Trujillo

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