Issaquah, WA–Who determines what a snowboard costs? Who dictates what boards are available to snowboarders? Who decides whether a new technology is bogus or “the next big thing”? And what happens when innovative ideas hit the wall of resistance called the status quo? In the age of the internet and online commerce, the answers are changing. For Hobie, the answer is www.hobiesnowboardsdirect.com.
Whether it’s parabolic skis, oversize tennis racquets, or Hobie’s NextStepbase technology: somewhere a choice is made each time new technology isoffered to an existing market. When the choice is left to retailers, theanswer is-prove it first, buy it later. When consumers are empowered tomake their own choices, progress tends to pick up speed.
As fast as the latest modems will let them, the ability for technologyleaders to shape the future is changing every day. Through ongoing,one-on-one consumer demo sales, Hobie has continued to beat the odds andsurvive withoutsignificant retail distribution. But the story is bigger than that, andHobie’s newest advancements are a one-two punch in the name of progress.First, IDSS (Internet Direct Snowboard Sales) allows riders to purchase apremium quality snowboard at substantial savings over full retail prices.Most snowboarders spend hard earned dollars for an off-the-rack board thatis built and priced just like all the other boards on the rack. Hobie’sadvanced technology, precision built boards are available for less-becausethere is no rack. Secondly, IDSS eliminates the retail bottleneck and makesHobie’s NextStep base technology available to anyone who wants it. Nowriders can make buying decisions based on all the options; not just theoptions available in their local shop.
NextStep is a dual elevation base that facilitates turn initiation,decreases base friction, and improves tracking. Mark Vance, snowboarddesigner since 1976 and President of Hobie Snowboards stated, “While othermanufacturers have focused on core materials, assembly techniques, andtopsheet cosmetics, we’ve spent years developing a superior snowboard base.
The result is a better ride. No one else offers NextStep-or anything likeit.” Hobie will promote their virtual store with print and onlineadvertising, an emerging snowboard team (including new signee Tom Zikas),mountain and demo presence-all the trimmings of a “normal” snowboardcompany. Except two: retail prices and retail limitations.
Hobie made their name developing progressive surfboard shapes; theninventing the Hobie Cat and revolutionizingsailing technology. Hobie is a company built on technology-enhancedperformance-and their ability to interact with the market throughtechnology is important. Immediate consumer feedback will result inimmediate response from research and development. Eliminating the retailerfrom their line to the consumer means direct communication withriders themselves. While other brands may go this direction in time, mostare still at the mercy of retail channels. But you can bet they’re thinkingabout when they’ll be able to offer direct sales, too. In the future,direct internet sales may be the only way true innovation gets frommanufacturers to consumers. For Hobie, the future is now. The site launchedin mid-December and got an astounding 45,000 hits in the first week. It’sclear that snowboarders are interested in Internet Direct Snowboard Salesand expanded options.
The question is one of choice. Who gets to choose what is right forsnowboarders. The people who invent them? The people who sell them? AtHobie Snowboards, the answer is “the people who ride them.”