January 16, 2008, 12:00 AM

SmoothFitness.com expanding web product lines and markets

SmoothFitness.com launched a new line of its fitness equipment in late 2007. The manufacturer also plans to begin selling other fitness equipment makers’ products on a separate web site in the second quarter of 2008.

SmoothFitness.com launched a new line of fitness equipment in late 2007 on both its main web site and a dedicated site. The manufacturer also plans to begin selling other equipment makers’ products on separate web sites in 2008, beginning with 1800Treadmill.com in the second quarter.

The home fitness equipment manufacturer hopes to counter a home fitness equipment market slowdown with the introduction of its Agile product line, says Joe Alter, president and CEO. The equipment addresses muscle and cardiovascular exercise with a dozen physical motions and will sell on the company’s main e-commerce site as well through affiliated companies’ storefronts.

SmoothFitness, No. 240 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also has launched a dedicated site for the product line, dubbed SmoothAgile.com, Alter says.

Because pricier home exercise equipment tends to last for years with the proper maintenance, there isn’t a replacement market, Alter tells Internet Retailer. “The affluent part of the U.S. with big basements has equipped them. The technological advances are not so great as to induce them to replace their equipment, which is why we’ve introduced a proprietary equipment line.”

SmoothFitness also is selling the Agile product line through bricks-and-mortar retail partners. The product now sells for about $4,000, but soon will include a range of less expensive versions, Alter says.

SmoothFitness, which started out in the mid-1980s selling fitness equipment in its own stores in the Philadelphia area, now sells more than 90% of its products online. In a break from tradition, the company will use its e-commerce sales expertise to offer fitness equipment made by other manufacturers on dedicated sites, beginning in the second quarter with 1800treadmill.com. “We will probably sell eight to 10 other brands on the web sites,” Alter says.

The company has gotten more sophisticated with its search marketing, bringing paid and natural search in-house last year, as a result of the tightening marketplace. “With fitness equipment there are a lot fewer unique visits and keyword costs have risen around 500% in one year for the words we spend the most on, like ‘treadmills’ and ‘elliptical trainers,’” Alter says.

For example, past search marketing was based on exact matches, such as ‘treadmill.’ “We discovered that the plural –‘treadmills’ -- converts twice as well. We had no idea,” Alter says. “We’ve gotten a lot smarter, which is good because the customer acquisition cost is rising.”

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