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Burton Goes Direct: It’s on Like Donkey Kong!

burton logoWhoosh! Bang! Ka-Boom! That was the sound of a bomb dropping around Vegas when the rumor then confirmation occurred. The 800lb Gorilla and the White Elephant in the room had a crazy one night stand in Vegas… and the offspring? Yep, the announcement that Burton is going to sell snowboards, boots and bindings (otherwise known as hard goods) online. As a direct result, they’ll be scaling back their partner links on their website. The Earth quakes, the hellfire burns, Belezabub walks the streets, and retailers run for the hills. Before you ask me when Nike is buying Burton, Let’s take a closer look at the facts:

1. The economy is in the crapper. To cut costs and boost profit, Burton will sell direct to the consumer. Cutting out the middle man increases Burton profit and in theory, connects the user to the brand directly. You’d do the same thing in their position.

2. By releasing stores from their partnership agreements, this legal change frees up stores to stock other brands, diversify, instead of stocking up on tons of Burton volume to hit minimum numbers that will have to be discounted come springtime. Minimum order volumes kill the industry.

3. Have you been to the Burton online experience recently? It’s a dynamic, Flash-filled, whizbang rollercoaster if you happen to be on a T3 line. But when you get to the online retail experience, you go from 2007 web experience to 1996 web experience. The cohesiveness of the online retail, those weird gnome and Stash yeti emails and the Reebok-esque brand experience is shaky at best. And all the crazy discounting like 30%-50% current products pre-Christmas, ever play drinking Jenga?

burton store

All of these factors give retailers a chance, an window of opportunity, to diversify their brand portfolios, reach out to more customers and have a fire lit under their asses. Embrace the green, create a core kiosk, enable live chat, explore Twitter! Those online properties like Backcountry, Sierra, TruSnow, Moda3 and ColoradoBoarder are three steps ahead of Burton with proven sales and hands-on UI data.


But don’t rest on your laurels. Burton didn’t become number one by being a slow study. Honestly they should have done this years ago and it’s now time to play catch up. And guarantee you me, they’ll come guns blazing. If the 2010 dealer catalog is any indication, time to man up!


Posted by Hoon on Thursday, February 19th, 2009 in Snow.

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One Response to “Burton Goes Direct: It’s on Like Donkey Kong!”

  • fburton Says:

    Greed indeed.

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