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Is the Ski Wall overwhelming?

post #1 of 101
Thread Starter 

It was suggested that the ski wall is overwhelming to the average buyer in a recent article for skiing business'. 

 

This bodes the question to you, the consumer:

Do you want to see everything and anything available, or does it overwhelm you? 

Do you really need, or want, to see every 88mm waisted ski known to man in order to walk out with a good 88mm waisted ski for you? 

Are you happy to see a select few that the store staff has chosen?

post #2 of 101

In US general retail, you through the whole warehouse in the store to show you're stocked and serious. In high end retail, there's something to be said for the 'boutique' feel with some space around the product. Most ski retailers separate skis, boots, and bindings. I'm sure they exist, but why not experience 'areas' more according to ability? Is there really a need to have all pairs of a particular ski in the front rack? Would it be better to simplify and 'fetishize' the retail space? Sell desired experience rather than display 'product'? If the latter is true, space... and a museum like quality would be great a la some of the high end retail you see in Europe, Japan, NYC, and the like. It's a great design problem for sure! I think you're seeing some of this in high end bicycle retail. Fewer models, expanded service, training/coaching and both on and off season gym training, shop sponsored trips, etc...  For a ski shop, add really great boot fitting/alignment to the above and you're there. Sounds like a very fun conversation you guys are having Trekchick.

post #3 of 101

I want as many as possible, in fact, a site where I can see every ski of the season, with specs and review, would lead to a complete geargasm. Although that's probably because I just like looking at skis, and don't really see the need for buying a ski (or most gear for that matter) in any sort of rush.

Boots being the exception, obviously.

 

 

 

Lukas

post #4 of 101
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

In US general retail, you through the whole warehouse in the store to show you're stocked and serious. In high end retail, there's something to be said for the 'boutique' feel with some space around the product. Most ski retailers separate skis, boots, and bindings. I'm sure they exist, but why not experience 'areas' more according to ability? Is there really a need to have all pairs of a particular ski in the front rack? Would it be better to simplify and 'fetishize' the retail space? Sell desired experience rather than display 'product'? If the latter is true, space... and a museum like quality would be great a la some of the high end retail you see in Europe, Japan, NYC, and the like. It's a great design problem for sure! I think you're seeing some of this in high end bicycle retail. Fewer models, expanded service, training/coaching and both on and off season gym training, shop sponsored trips, etc...  For a ski shop, add really great boot fitting/alignment to the above and you're there. Sounds like a very fun conversation you guys are having Trekchick.

 

Just me and the dog right now and he doesn't seem to think its as fun as his squeaky toy. 

I'll be sure to have Phil's bourbon handy when he gets home from work tho.  Then its Game on!

 

 

That being said, I actually just read the article and think its an interesting thought, having seen it from the ski sales staff side. 

post #5 of 101
You want to see a lot of skis when shopping. You don't want to buy skis just by looking at them since that doesn't tell you much. I suspect anybody who is overwhelmed is actually 'showrooming' and hoping to get enough comparative information to make a selection and then shop online for price.

The Ski Wall addresses showrooming perfectly without any compromise to the serious customer or repeat browser.
post #6 of 101

OTOH  someone who is overwhelmed could simply be seeing Too Many Of The Same Thing.  

 

  Like the person who is overwhelmed  in the wine shop with 3 aisles of California Chardonnay all priced between 15 and 25 dollars.     It doesn't matter whether the explicit emotion is boredom or amazement or confusion.   

 

They are overwhelmed because no choice is effectively distinguishable using the tools they have.   No choice gets rid of the fear of buyer remorse.

 

I suspect that people (read: guys) who hate shopping ONLY hate the sort of shopping in which they can be overwhelmed.    "I hate shopping" is suspect as an instance of denial of the true problem.

 

Boredom overwhelmed:  "Yawn, I know we're in Venice but I simply can't stand to look at another piece of Murano glass, they all look the same, just pick any of them"  

 

Amazement overwhelmed: "I can't /believe/ there are so many budget  California Zins here, how could I possibly pick one, tell ya what, I'll upsell myself  over in the $50+ aisle then no one can blame me for making a bad choice,   Sheesh I hate this, but I need something tonight".

 

 

I should also mention that, to a customer with no pre-existing  preferences or biases,  /skis look bigger/  against the ski wall than mounted and on snow.    There is a category of "overwhelmed" where they will try to sell themselves down in size.

 

 

 

 

The problem with /not/ having a ski wall is that the salesman is more likely be suspected of "Selling what he's got" instead of "Selling what is best for customer".


Edited by cantunamunch - 8/24/12 at 1:36pm
post #7 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post

 

 

The problem with /not/ having a ski wall is that the salesman is more likely be suspected of "Selling what he's got" instead of "Selling what is best for customer".

That can be easily remedied with a list of what skis are available... show one pair, and have a tag that tells the availability of other lengths. If one had their act together, you could do a phone app with your store reviews and inventory.

 

Trekchick, here's a link from Kim K's blog about the Rossi Lange RDL center below the Gondola off load at Crystal Mtn. Small, but cool space. The picture doesn't really do it justice. They've got both old ski and boot molds as part of the decor. It'll be interesting to see if it justifies itself over time.

 

http://kimkircher.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/rdl-center.jpg


Edited by markojp - 8/24/12 at 1:48pm
post #8 of 101

It`s really hard to say... it depends on the customer. Someone with good understanding and some knowledge might wanna see as much as possible. OTOH the ones that are new to the thing might come up with the thought that this is just too much stuff that I can`t even figure out what to do...

 

Personally I really like to see stuff and touch as many as possible, but that`s me. I think in general I would aim to have as much as possible available to customers hands so people can see, touch, handle stuff...

 

I agree with different sizes of the same skis are not really something you need to have except if you have space available! 

post #9 of 101

You probably do this already, but......

 

I think I would prefer to shop for ski gear in locations that have planograms based on discipline/category.

 

Have all of the race skis together, sorted by SL, GS, SG, and DH (possibly add the carving boards here too)

 

Have all of the Park Skis together, possibly including the mid fat all mountain skis here.

 

Have all of the deep and BC skis together.

 

Have all of the beginner and intermediate targeted gear together, but Jr race skis with the race skis, jr park/freestyle with the park/mid fats, etc.

 

You can go with boutiques for all of the above also having plug boots with race skis and A/T boots and bindings with the BC and fat skis..  But, that would be overkill, not necessary, but makes sense if you have the space.

post #10 of 101

My experience is really only from a handful of ski shops, and "sporting goods" shops..

 

  • If a shop has 400 pairs of skis on the wall, my first reaction is, "how in the blue hell is the staff here going to know anything about any of these skis?".  If there's too much selection, there's simply no way most shop staff will have any real "good input" on their products.
  • If a shop has 2 pairs of race skis on the wall, it's pretty easy to see that this probably isn't the shop for me.

     

My IDEAL ski wall has:

  • ONE of each ski stocked.  Not a pair.  Not one of each length.  ONE.  Simple, easy to see, and ready to go.
  • Signage to briefly describe the ski, and what lengths are available.
  • Arrange skis not by price, brand, or ability level, but by discipline.  Race skis over here, Powder boards over there. 
  • Space the "discipline" sections out - If I want to look at powder boards, I don't want to be crawling over top of a racer looking for his skis.
  • and most importantly STAFF who know what they're talking about.
post #11 of 101

Have been selecting, buying, and once upon a time selling skis off a rack for over 45 years.  Today it is WAY OVER THE TOP CONFUSING!  Don't think that display by length is the problem so much as the number of models displayed.  In big ticket sales it really is not recommended to show the customer over 3 selections or you are way too likely to confuse them.  (My real career in life was selling toys between about $10K and $2.5Mil. for over 30 years, so some knowledge on the topic.) The sellers % to close the sale went way down when you do show over 3 items, and you honestly do the customer no service in most cases.  (Was personally most successful when selling only one brand at a time.)  The shops and the industry are hurting themselves with the confusion. 

 

Today there are just too many choices on the wall in every category, and many would all do a fine job for most of us.  How do you choose?  We all think we can pick out The Ski for us, suspect we actually just adapt to what we pick.  Here in my old(er) age just asking a professional that I trust, maybe try them, shop them a little for price, and probably buying them.  It makes life so much easier, and easy is good.

post #12 of 101

I would like to see skis grouped by similar stiffness, width, and overall quality of manufacturing.

That way all you need to decide is price and top sheet design.

post #13 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abox View Post

I would like to see skis grouped by similar stiffness, width, and overall quality of manufacturing.
That way all you need to decide is price and top sheet design.

Can you give an example of skis that vary widely in quality of manufacture?


Now if it were my shop, I'd have nothing made in China, but that's my issue wink.gif
post #14 of 101

Tough one.  I see pros and cons.

 

Personally, I think a well-organized wall is visually quite attractive.  It needs a lot of space, though.  I would split out race skis, beginner skis, kids skis, dedicated women's skis, and obvious powder skis.  The rest I'd organize by width, I guess.

 

There's a weird irony to the wall of skis.  On the one hand, it's tangible and available.  The store's not hiding anything.  You can walk right up and flex a ski.  In this regard, it's good to have examples of each length.

 

On the other hand, it's so exhaustive that a skilled salesperson is generally needed to make any sense of it.  Even though the wall looks self-serve, it's really not.

 

So, you've got a boutique laid out like a CostCo, but it does look pretty.

post #15 of 101
Quote:

Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

 

The sellers % to close the sale went way down when you do show over 3 items, and you honestly do the customer no service in most cases.  (Was personally most successful when selling only one brand at a time.)

 

icon14.gif

That was also my experience selling high end/high involvement luxury goods.  Ask a few qualifying questions to gauge the main needs then show then your two favorites, really convince them that you love the product.  Then, when they ask what are other options (almost always do), show them ONE more option then circle back to your original recommendation.  Anything more and they always leave confused and sometimes a little irritated. 

post #16 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post


Can you give an example of skis that vary widely in quality of manufacture?
Now if it were my shop, I'd have nothing made in China, but that's my issue wink.gif

 

 

Rossi B2 Bandit and Dynastar Legend 8000 (can you tell I haven't bought skis in a few years).  One comes apart at the tip, the other doesn't.  Of course one was soft and one was stiff so they wouldn't have been grouped together in my scenario anyway.

post #17 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post


 

You can go with boutiques for all of the above also having plug boots with race skis and A/T boots and bindings with the BC and fat skis..  But, that would be overkill, not necessary, but makes sense if you have the space.

 

 

Now take each one of those boutiques and only have 4-5-6 different skis on a general rack in each boutique.   Have the rest be available by request, 3 at a time.     You can work in markojp's phoneapp feature if you like.

 

I call it the 'library' model.

post #18 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abox View Post

 

 

Rossi B2 Bandit and Dynastar Legend 8000 (can you tell I haven't bought skis in a few years).  One comes apart at the tip, the other doesn't.  Of course one was soft and one was stiff so they wouldn't have been grouped together in my scenario anyway.

 

 

WIth current skis, it'd be very difficult to separate width/softness/'quality', etc... you'd have one or two pair groups spread all over the store. About 'quality', there has to be more than anecdotal evidence. I think everything's reasonably good these days, but can still imagine that in a big production run of popular models, there's bound to be a bad pair or two.

post #19 of 101

1) Putting the entire inventory of each ski on the rack is indeed confusing for the average retail buyer (probably not the people posting here).

2) As with wine in a quality liquor store, the shop should include interesting (brief) facts about each product on the rack.

3) Racks are horrible for setting apart unique products.  If I had a shop, I'd mount one of each interesting product horizontally on the wall, light it properly, and "frame" it somehow.  So if the Stockli Y or the BBR is the hottest thing since sliced bread, consumers can get a good look at the product even if they are just shopping for something else.  I once entered a ski shop selling the Ski Logiks on the end of the rack set in terrible light.  I'm sure they could sell more if people could see them in good light.

4) Seeing lots of skis is confusing for the typical gaper.  Retail buyers who are confused tend to purchase skis, mutual funds, golf clubs, etc. by defaulting to consumer guides that may or may not be written by people who are knowledgeable.  Smart ski shops should let curious consumers know why they offer particular models before they enter the store (blogs, reviews, etc.).

5) Most ski shop salespeople suck at asking questions and, therefore, talk too much.  If they learned to find out about the customer by continually asking questions it wouldn't matter how many skis were on a rack, since only a couple skis would be considered by a customer based upon his or her answers.  Asking the right questions allowing the customer to eventually say, "This is exactly what I want." can be taught. Socratic selling is almost never used in most shops.

post #20 of 101
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abox View Post

I would like to see skis grouped by similar stiffness, width, and overall quality of manufacturing.

That way all you need to decide is price and top sheet design.

 

My response to that is: 
In a perfect world, the ski shop won't stock skis that aren't good quality. biggrin.gif
post #21 of 101

The "ULTIMATE" ski shop would have a 200' vert indoor ski run.  Purchase Xanadu and open it up with the Mall Of Americas of ski shops inside.  Not sure?  Demo a couple different options then make your selection.  We'll mount the bindings and wax them while you're looking at jackets..

post #22 of 101
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

The "ULTIMATE" ski shop would have a 200' vert indoor ski run.  Purchase Xanadu and open it up with the Mall Of Americas of ski shops inside.  Not sure?  Demo a couple different options then make your selection.  We'll mount the bindings and wax them while you're looking at jackets..

To do this properly, we'd have to have a section in a wind tunnel with blower pow conditions!

 

I'm just arrogant enough to think that we can pull it off!

 

It'll be EPIC!

post #23 of 101

I for one would like to see something like this:

 

Skis grouped by similar stiffness, width, length, weight, etc.

 

I for one, have a hard time demoing skis where I live and when I do it isn't easy for me to do.

 

Does the type of skiing and location(type of mountain runs) of your skiing influence the type of skis you might buy?? Does your weight influence the weight of skis to demo/buy?? I thing length is a factor depending on your height and weight but how about weight of the skis your looking for??

 

From my experience at the local REI, I seem to know more about any ski than a salesperson does and sometimes even at the local mtn shop the salesperson will try to sale me or my friends the first ski I have in my hand.

post #24 of 101
Quote:

Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

My response to that is:

In a perfect world, the ski shop won't stock skis that aren't good quality. biggrin.gif

 

 

Good!  That makes my choice that much easier.

post #25 of 101

Au contraire, you have to have a ski wall. A cheerfully stuffed one. Wife has a small business, different products but retail all works the same: If a customer comes in and the walls/lot/shelves aren't crammed with inventory, lots of different versions of the same product, they lose confidence that you're giving them a choice. It makes them uncomfortable, like you don't have enough money to actually have stuff for them to buy. They've been conditioned by our culture to see maxi-choice as part of being western/American/sophisticated. Lack of choice is for The Other; think about how it feels when you walk into a rural grocery store with one or two kinds of bread, a few jars of strawberry jam, some eggs, two kinds of luncheon meat, three brands of beer. You suddenly feel really out there, isn't it cool and authentic, and below that, grateful to live near a supermarket and a mall and a Starbucks. Or if you want to multiply the feeling, go spend some time off in the backcountry of a developing country, where the market is a 8x10 room missing one wall, may offer one brand of a few things, no brand of many things, two brands of something like beer, nothing fresher than wilted greens of some unknown species, and you just feel happy they even have anything for the table that night. 

 

Of course, what we're conditioned to want is 92.5% utter b.s. and a solid store owner could put out a couple of versions of a few things that would satisfy our needs nicely, if we could ever admit it (unlikely). Especially since in most arenas, there isn't much substantive difference between the top five versions of anything. So we spend our time agonizing over whether this ski is better than that one, or this beer than that, or this down parka than that. And then feel like we've actually reached a meaningful choice. I just realized a 3 series BMW is vastly superior to an Audi A4*. God, isn't capitalism great?

 

But you want to increase the customer's sense of "richness" at Start Haus? Add a couple of more choices, cram in some models, but order fewer of most. Cherry pick + the continuity of a few well represented lines (cherry picking can get dangerous if it creates a feeling of discontinuity, lack of owner confidence in a single brand; does Jim have ADD?). Create mild visual overload. You want lostsa stuff, but not jumbled. And a sense of urgency; all these choices and so little time before the one in your length is gone. Oh wait, you already do that. Well, anyway...

 

Yep, even though SJ or Phil or you could probably watch someone walk in andin 5 minutes know a single ski, and length, that will make them happiest. Drawn from say two brands, four models. Personally I'd pick Blizzard and Dynastar, a mid 70's carver, a mid-high 80's midfat, an 100-ish all mountain, and a 110-120 powder ski from each, to actually match with 80% of all skiers. Or Rossignol and Nordica. Or K2 and Atomic. If you want to get silly versatile, add in one cheater club racing model and one park twin from one brand.

 

Of course I'd be out of business in a month...

 

* note for Phil, who may retain some mild interest in market trends: Have it on good, LA in-crowd authority that no one under 40 who has any cool at all buys BMW anymore. To quote my source, "Audi's are for young people. BMW's are for their parents."  (Not sure how my now 200K 4-Runner fits into this scheme, but I'm told it's so old and with the straight 4 to boot, it gets a pass.) 

post #26 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by lott42 View Post


Does the type of skiing and location(type of mountain runs) of your skiing influence the type of skis you might buy?? Does your weight influence the weight of skis to demo/buy?? I thing length is a factor depending on your height and weight but how about weight of the skis your looking for??

Q1...Yes, absolutely. Q2... Yes absolutely. Q3..., it depends. If being used for non- lift served BC skiing, less weight is better, but too light ends up compromising downhill performance. Length? Weight, height, ABILITY, intended use, and again, LOCATION all matter.
post #27 of 101

I was very impressed with the size of the Start Haus ski wall during the social evening at the Tahoe gathering. But even more impressive was the ski boot inventory "on display" in boxes instead of an out of sight stock room. This spoke volumes and to me it said "this is a ski shop for the serious skier and no matter what size or shape of your foot they can easily find a fit for you ". The casual non serious skier wants to shop where the serious people go so imo this "no frills but lots of product in stock" approach works.

post #28 of 101

Hanging out at WB and some shops are still full-on bikes (Fanatyko), but some are getting the ski walled stocked (Comar). Love a nice big wall of skis just waiting to touch the snow. I'll figure out what I want, and if I don't, I'll just buy more - other things in life should be so simple!

 

Oh, and it's Wanderlust weekend which means yoga demos all over the village. I'd put up pictures, but many are sort of right on the verge of NSFW (and I'd probably get slapped by the takee).

post #29 of 101

I think a large ski wall comes in two flavors. One is the mass market flavor which entails having a wide range of lower priced skis and every model in the common brands. That works for certain markets and consumers. The other type is the shop such as ours that carries a wide range of selected skis. In our case, we don't carry everything but we do showcase 13 brands & 90 models plus 35 race ski models. We understand that we are walking a fine line of possibly having too much for the casual shopper to grasp intuitively, but we do it for a reason. We want to set ourselves apart as a ski dealer.

 

If a customer wants the widest selection possible as some on this thread have suggested we can deliver that. If they want to talk to someone that has skied every one of those skis (or almost all anyhow), we can deliver that too. Then, when they walk in the ski room, they'll see that the skis are not lined up by brand but by category. Thus, when we speak with a customer, we'll plunk them in front of the category that sounds most likely according to what they tell us in the interview process. From that point forward we can help them find a stiffer ski, a softer ski, one with a certain rocker profile or an innovative shape. Despite saying similar things.....two customers may gravitate in entirely different directions and we want to have something for them.

 

So......the enormous selection is a very effective sales strategy for us and we can usually make customers feel comfortable. However, we are sensitive to the possibility of overload.

 

SJ

post #30 of 101
What draws me into a ski shop?......... A huge wall of skis.

What makes me decide what skis i want to buy?......... Demoing skis on the mountain.

What makes me decide on where to buy once ive demoed and determined what I want?........lowest price, whteher it be a local shop, resort shop, or online.

Of the 11 pairs of skis I purchaesd over te past 4 years...... 9 online and 2 from the manufacturer warehouse. Zero from any of my local ski shops. I've given them the opportunity to match the best pricce, they always refuse, thus they dont get my business. It's the new reality in retail sales - adapt or perish.
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