Retailer Profile – Absolute Snow, Hemel Hemstead. Online Store With Bricks & Mortar Presence

Founded in 2004 by Paul McNamara, Absolute Snow had a vision to provide a knowledgeable service with good quality, affordable products, which allowed everyone to partake in extreme sports. Over time they have grown to provide a new type of service for the public, which entails a bricks and mortar cyber shop, providing online purchases to allow for more variety and cheaper prices, but the customers can actually physically check out the gear in store too! Source spoke with marketing manager, Lewis Goswell to hear more about this revolutionary style of retail…

Could you please give us a brief history of your store; including when it was started, who started it and who the owners and key players are.
Everything started in 2004 under the name Bargain Boards, where the main goal was to offer the best value for money; it wasn’t until 2007 that we started offering skis as well as snowboards. The name change to ‘Absolute Snow’ happened in 2012 and each year we have grown bigger, redesigning the site and expanding our store to cater for skateboarders, mountain climbers, BMXers and even surfers. By February this year we have had more than 100,000 products uploaded onto our site.

What percentage of your sales are from online business compared to your brick-and-mortar sales?
All of our sales are online! We do however have a brick-and-mortar shop which sets us apart from most online retailers. It’s ideal for riders who want to come in and try some gear on before committing to a purchase.

Did your store’s sales increase or decrease over last year?
We’ve seen a really great increase in sales and we put it down to our product range. We take pride in the fact that we cater to every level of rider with every budget possible. Customer service is what we take pride in the most at Absolute Snow and when all the guys here have great such product knowledge and ride themselves it builds some great relationships and lifetime customers.

What makes your store different and in what ways does your store excel beyond your competition?
We aren’t just a click and post website. You can call us and chat about different board styles and get our expert opinion, then pop down to our warehouses and try out all the products for yourself before taking your new purchase home with you! Absolute Snow will always be run by snowboarders for snowboarders and that’s what makes all the difference.

How do you stay in touch with the wants and needs of your customers?
We take pride in a 24-hour response rate on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as our own on-site communications system to make sure our customers are always as happy as they possibly can be. We read over every review posted for our site and make sure that we’re offering the best customer experience possible.

What kind of advice can you give other independent retailers who are trying to compete against the big box megastores?
Don’t be afraid to evolve. We began as a small company selling bargain snowboards but we didn’t let the unknown scare us, we’ve adapted to sell much more than just snow gear and it’s opened a lot of doors for the company.

Does your store sponsor athletes, competitions, etc?
We do. We’re always looking for new riders to join our sponsored athletes. The benefits for the rider include social media coverage and great discounts. It benefits us by spreading awareness of our brand and company ethos.

What is the outlook for the rest of 2015?
The rest of 2015 is set to be very busy. With our highest volume of business during the winter season it’s all hands on deck processing orders and getting everyone’s gear out in time to hit the snow. We’ll be continuing to build our Absolute Street, Rock and Skate brands and our sponsored riders will also be out riding a lot, so we’ll be keeping everyone updated with what they’re up to on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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