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Boats.Com Industry Issues Presentation

Boating Week 2000

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The presentation focused on the recent agreement making Boats.Com the endorsed provider for a major industry site providing both B2C and B2B opportunities forcing the actual B2C sales to go through dealers.

Lots of discussion about forcing the "deal" through the dealer channel.

They spoke of the history of forming the alliance between them and the NMMA and the MRRA.

YachtWorld (also their site) currently has high traffic and the users linker an average of 17 minutes each.

Dealers can list all their used boats for $100 a month (free till Dec. 1st).

500,000 to a million boats are FSBO (For Sale by Owner) annually.

Brokerage businesses may sell 75,000 of them. How can we drive them to dealers? 85% of used boat sellers are new boat buyers.

They have formed a partnership with KeyBank to provide financing for these units.

Consumers entering a web site focus on two points:

  1. How am I connected to the water? The new Boats.Com site provides separate fishing, powerboat and sailing areas. Each can be reached by one click from the entry page.
  2. Content. The site will provide extensive content (articles, information, tips) in each of these areas.

RBBI Comments:

I am still not buying into the "approved/endorsed" web site concept and trying to force sales through the dealer channel. Speakers in several other sessions focused on meeting the needs and desires of the customer, making it easy for them to purchase products and providing the experience customers desire (often via several different purchasing channels). The other speakers were talking about marketing in general, not specifically about boats. I think many people will desire to purchase certain boats/drives/parts through dealers after an online introduction. Others will wish to purchase certain boats/drives/parts directly online from the manufacturer or from a wholesaler. While still others may wish to shop online to find the "best dealer deal." I don't think trying to force the entire online market through the existing dealer system via one "endorsed site" is the way to go.

They talk about taking the hassle out of buying a boat and exclude the easiest way.

Several industry manufacturers have already made efforts to sell certain products via the discount chains. We expect this to continue, even to the extent of online direct sales. Look at the auto industry.

In a few of the sessions the lack of price information to the consumer was brought up. Most do not even want to make MSRP info available. In the auto industry, dealer cost information is widely available. This will come to the boating industry. The handwriting is on the wall.

One good thing, the boats.com project has significantly raised the awareness of the issues in this area.

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