In what should be good news for consumers, Simms will begin selling direct to the public with the launch of their new Web site later this summer. We spoke with Simms CEO K.C. Walsh this morning. He filled us in on the changes and what they will mean for both customers who currently buy Simms gear at their local fly shop and those who might prefer to buy from Simms directly.
MidCurrent: What do you think this change means for anglers who are already Simms customers, and for those who are new to the Simms brand?
Walsh: For a long time now we’ve had Simms brand “loyalists” who’ve wanted to buy direct from Simms because either their local store didn’t carry the full line or they just wanted to have the product conversation with us, so it’s another way we can be sure they get the product we want. But the specialty retailer is still the heart and soul of our business. Our direct sales will have additional fees that someone wouldn’t necessarily pay if they drive to the local fly shop, like shipping and taxes. Most customers want to try on our waders and outerwear, and there’s no replacement for the fly shop in that regard.
MidCurrent: Does this change have anything to do with your expansion into the general fishing market?
Walsh: Somewhat. There are products like our new Pro Dry suit that not all specialty retailers would be comfortable carrying. We want to be sure customers have any easy way to buy them. But it’s really more about the investment in our new Web site, and trying to figure out how our Web site and online channels can work better for customers.
MidCurrent: What will the new Web site give you that you don’t already have, in addition to allowing direct purchases?
Walsh: We’re hoping to have a more direct way to communicate with customers. What we want to do every day at Simms is make better product, so we want to have a dialogue that helps us collect ideas and improve our designs. That’s really the key. That dialogue is missing for us right now, and our competitors having been selling direct for a long time now and having that conversation. I really believe it will help us create better products.