Food and gift basket sales increased 4.7%, but total e-commerce, which includes online and telephone orders, increased less than 1%.
As it vies with other boat manufacturers for the attention of its independent retail dealers, MasterCraft finds it helps to reach out to them via video and live chat.
For powerboat dealers trying to peddle watercraft that can easily run close to $100,000 and well beyond, a new model priced to bring in new customers can be a big deal. But getting dealers’ attention for such things hasn’t always been easy, says Jason Boertje, director of marketing for MasterCraft Boat Co.
“Dealers can choose to tune into us or not,” he says. “We try to grab their attention without wasting their time.”
Up until now MasterCraft has tried presentation media like PowerPoint slides, but found they didn’t always stream well over the Internet to viewers and were simply ineffective at demonstrating new boat features designed to get dealers—and, of course, consumers—excited and opening up their purse strings. “We have visual products, and we want to turn the steering wheel and show how the storage systems work,” Boertje says. “It’s hard to explain that in a PowerPoint demo.”
When MasterCraft launched its new NXT 20 power boat last week—a 20-foot craft priced to appeal to young, often first-time buyers with a relatively low price of $50,000—it tried a new way to show it to dealers as well as to consumers. With an Internet-hosted video and live chat application from Brandlive, it streamed two live videos—one on Friday to dealers, and one on Monday to consumers—while simultaneously engaging with viewers in live chat sessions that appeared to the right of the video.
Although it’s too soon to cite any increase in orders from dealers or sales to consumers, MasterCraft got want it wanted up front: the attention of its dealers. Nearly 100 dealers logged in, with about 200 viewers in all, as many watched the presentation with colleagues. And about a dozen dealers engaged in the live chat sessions. Not bad attendance from a worldwide base of 140 dealers, Boertje says.
“The return on investment for this will be there, because consumers want to interact with us, and dealers want to interact, and this video and live chat follows that activity model,” he says. Among the benefits of the live chat sessions, he adds, is that MasterCraft as well as its dealers can instantly share ideas on how to improve the video as well as boat features. In last week’s dealer presentation, for example, MasterCraft learned that dealers wanted more information about the tower, or the overhead device that secures the ropes that pull skiers or wakeboarders in a boat’s wake.
Boertje says MasterCraft was quick to get additional exposure from the video and live chat demos, as dealers and consumers who participated were already discussing them in MasterCraft and wakeboarding online forums.
Fritz Brumder, CEO of Brandlive, says his company’s video/live chat application is also being used by other companies, including GoPro Inc., the maker of video devices designed to record action sports while mounted to sports equipment in play. Other clients include cookware manufacturer Meyer Corp. and retail chain Pottery Barn; both are using the Brandlive application to demonstrate products to consumers. Pottery Barn is a unit of Williams-Sonoma Inc., No. 21 in the newly published 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, which ranks companies on the annual web sales.
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