February 15, 2006, 12:00 AM

Backcountry.com laughs all the way to the bank

New web sites, enhanced I.T. infrastructure and a larger distribution center were the driving forces behind climbing sales in 2005, “a monster year,” says John Bresee, president.

New web sites, enhanced information technology infrastructure and a larger distribution center were the driving forces behind huge sales growth in 2005 for Backcountry.com, company executives say. Sales for the pure-play rose 89% in 2005 to $52 million, compared with $27.5 million in 2004.

“2005 was a monster year for Backcountry.com,” says John Bresee, president of Backcountry.com, No. 176 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites. “During the last 18 months we launched five new web sites, built out a new 210,000-square-foot, paperless distribution center, and rebuilt our I.T. infrastructure. Last year was building deep infrastructure; this year is the year of the customer.”

The company was especially happy with the launch of SteepandCheap.com, a “viral” web site. Viral refers to sales and marketing techniques that take advantage of existing social networks to increase sales and brand awareness. The site is very informal, with a slogan that warns, “A new deal on killer gear every night at midnight. Act fast, ‘cause once it’s gone you’re SOL.” Bresee remarks, “We laughed ourselves silly over the overwhelming surprise success of SteepandCheap.com.”

Founded in 1996, Backcountry.com sells outdoor gear for backcountry excursions, including backpacking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, trail running and adventure travel. Its web sites include Backcountry.com, BackcountryOutlet.com, Dogfunk.com and Tramdock.com.

Bresee will speak at the Internet Retailer 2006 Conference & Exhibition in an educational session titled Micro-Segmentation: The Internet Goes Where Stores and Catalogs Can’t.

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