Forum Index » GEAR » From the owner of ProLiteGear.com - What traits do BPL members consider important in an online gear shop???


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Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: From the owner of ProLiteGear.com - What traits do BPL members consider important in an online gear shop??? on 01/31/2013 16:07:49 MST Print View

Im definitely aware of your site... have been for years. Never ordered anything though. As an industry guy... well you know why.

For me the best thing you offer is the Euro brands in the USA. This is awesome and your selestion of jackets was ok with me (Rab at least)

As per Craigs "ill find the pertinant info on the dealer site" I personally like when retailers consistantly provide this info and have a "compare products" feature.
This is a great way to cut through all the marketing and see the facts.


Outdoor Research does this but poorly (I know its a mfg but bare w/me)

They have stuff like colors/ sizes/ and useless info for product comparisons. They give the full on marketing blurb for each product. I want strictly the facts, ma'am.

Montbell does not have a compare feature but they give the tech specs completely and consistantly.

gotta go... compare chart, more shelters-

IMO
thanks

Emily B
(emilyb)
Re: From the owner of ProLiteGear.com - What traits do BPL members consider important in an online gear shop??? on 01/31/2013 16:33:51 MST Print View

First of all, thanks for seeking input on this, it speaks well of ProLite Gear.

A few thoughts:

1) DETAILS ON RETAIL SITE

When I'm looking into a non-cottage-industry product, I look first at sites that regularly provide their own measured specs and non-hyped product descriptions (there are only a couple!), and those that regularly post reviews and questions-and-answers. I prefer to buy from these sites.

I often look at ProLite Gear both when researching and looking to buy, because you often have your own weights and descriptions. Not many retailers post their own measured weights on a regular basis. Some have their own descriptions but many of those are just hype and usually include my pet peeve "it's so light that you won't even notice it in your pack!" It is really easy to tell when a description is that of the retailer not the manufacturer, and when it's based on actually having examined the product. It's fine and good to include the product's stock blurb, but adding even a few bullet points or one detailed sentence of your own description can provide helpful information that's not included in the blurb, or can cause me the customer to feel that I'm getting some measured assessment.
So that is one area where ProLite Gear sets itself apart. But it would be exponentially better if you could provide at least PLG-measured weight and brief description for Every Product that you add from now on (or as many as possible), so that it could be counted on.

Also, PLG has a Reviews and Q&A system set up, but I don't see tons of usage of these features. Yes there are many other sites that have lots of reviews, so I might look at those too... but a) then I'm at another site for a longer time and feel like I may as well just by the product there, and b) sometimes there are not as many reviews as one might think, especially for the less-mainstream products. And not many sites where I can assume the reviews are from customers/users who are deliberate in their gear choices or have actual experience with gear in general, and didn't just go hiking for the first time in their life. Not that the latter type of review is unhelpful, but I think ProLite Gear could really provide a service by actively seeking reviews from its particular user base. Likewise, if someone writes or calls with a question, it doesn't hurt to post a brief version of that question and your answer in the Q&A. Surely someone else will be wondering the same thing at some point.

Along those lines, others in this forum thread have advised removing a product listing when it's not in stock, but I appreciate when these products remain posted, because I'd still look at PLG to see your own specs and descriptions, when I'm researching the product. But best to also include an eye-grabbing out-of-stock notice at the top of the listing.

Further, I really appreciate when the retailer provides certain clothing measurements. For women's clothing, this includes length of shirts, front and back (specifying where you're measuring from); sleeve length; and measurement of waists, unstretched and stretched-- in addition to providing the manufacturer's sizing charts. These measurements don't have to be for every size, could just be for size medium, to give an idea.

And one last thing. I really notice when retailers give details about the technical specs that are actually helpful for the customers who know what they mean. Often enough, even the manufacturer does not provide these on their site, so I don't know how available these details are to you. But for example, RAB usually doesn't list the details of their synthetic insulation. They'll say that a jacket has Primaloft One, but won't specify which weight of Primaloft One. And then there are those who say that their jacket uses 850 fp down but don't give fill weight. If I have to choose between a jacket that one manufacturer assures me is the perfect warmth for me, versus one from another manufacturer that gives the specs so I can judge for myself, I'll choose the latter-- or make my own. Anyway, that's just one example, but if you can get your hands on that type of information, you'd have my vote.


2) TURNOFFS

One thing that turns me off of a retailer right away is lack of an easily accessible shipping estimate. PLG has this problem.

When I have to create an account, or sense that I will have to go through a whole rigamarole just to get a shipping estimate, I will automatically go to another retailer. I live in Canada at the moment so I don't automatically assume that I'll have decent shipping options. I can't even tell you how many times I've been ready to order from a non-big-box gear retail site for the first time, after having compared sites to see which one has the right combination of things I want to order; take the time to put everything in my cart again (since sites sometimes only keep things in your cart for a short time); go through a whole process of setting up an account, which often is more of a hassle living outside the U.S.; and then find that the shipping costs are as much as the items themselves. (Compounded by knowing that I might have to pay around 20% duty when it arrives, and that half the things I want can't be shipped internationally in the first place; but that's the case no matter which non-Canadian retailer I use. We have a couple good retailers in Canada but they don't always have the products I'm looking for.) So now, if there's not a shipping estimator right there in my shopping cart, I don't even bother, unless I can't find the product elsewhere. These days there is no excuse for a difficult-to-use website.
It IS very good that you specify that you do international shipping and that you use USPS, so that I know I at least won't have to pay for UPS.


In all, ProLite Gear is one of the few retailers who appears to take its products seriously, so it's one of the retailers that I take seriously.

Brandon =Þ
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
ProLiteGear.com ideas on 01/31/2013 16:56:10 MST Print View

Hi Craig,

If I can do an autopsy on my previous states of mind and try to parse what stops me from buying online from some boutique shops, I think it boils down to and relates to the three S's (shipping, shipping, shipping).

First: I worry when a smaller shop will actually mail it out to me. As my experience has been that with REI type online sellers, if I order early in the day I may be surprised and find a box on my doorstep the next day. With the smaller shops, I have little confidence my order will be filled same day or even in a couple days. I've left on many a trip a little depressed because I was without some new gear I ordered a week or more before. Knowing it is showing up a day after I'm leaving can even invoke some sour grapes feelings that I carry with me on the entire trip. Maybe a display next to the item promising when it will ship and might arrive could go a long way towards making me click a "buy" button, kind of like they do on flower delivery websites (to make sure you won't miss mothers day).

Second: Free domestic return shipping on unused items. I'm sure for a small shop something like that is scary to offer. However, if you've read that Zappo's book, apparently it pays off in customer loyalty. It probably will get abused by a handful of a-holes, but it might encourage a lot of sales you wouldn't otherwise of got. Also helps a great deal if the return labels are pre-printed and included with the shipped item.

Third: I find that I end up on a lot of boutique websites because I stumble on one low priced item I can't get elsewhere, but the shipping is going to increase the price dramatically. Then I look for some other stuff to fill the minimum order to get the free shipping, but I can't find anything I really need. Maybe along with 50 dollar minimum on free shipping, there could be an alternative option where if you order a ProLiteGear branded t-shirt or hat, you automatically qualify for free shipping. The mark up on something like that could be good enough to offset the loss on shipping, and you get a bunch of people wearing gear with your name on it (as I can always use another black t-shirt with some random logo on it).

Outside of that, just checking out the website today, almost everything I was interested in was out of stock or you didn't have my size. That is something that would dissuade me of putting ProLiteGear.com high on my list of websites I'd check regularly for gear.

Hope that was of some help,

Brandon

Ed Tyanich
(runsmtns) - F - M
ProLite is my 1st Choice for Gear on 01/31/2013 19:40:03 MST Print View

ProLite Gear is usually the first place I look when shopping for gear. They often have gear others don't have, their prices are very good, customer service is tremendous and I have what I ordered the next day. (Of course I live only 90 miles from ProLite)

I love going to their shop when I am in Bozeman. It really nice to see gear you don't see in your typical outdoor shop.

My thought on return policy is that I accept some degree of personal responsibility when I purchase gear and I don't expect someone to allow me to try everything, sometimes for months or years before deciding on what I really want. Sometimes I buy gear that doesn't live up to my expectations but unless it is defective, that was my choice, no different than if I order a meal out somewhere that I don't really care for. Unless there is something actually wrong with it, I accept that I made a bad choice and I won't order that again.

Others feel different than I do and are free to shop where they please. I really appreciate what Craig has done with ProLite and will continue to support him with my dollars and my recommendations to others.