Late To The Party

21 06 2011

I know that it’s pretty cool to be fashionably late to social events. It draws everyone else’s eye your way, and you can stroll in knowing that the collective gaze is soaking up your presence. Arrive too early, and you risk being a nerd. But arrive too late, and you might miss the party entirely.

Which is why I was jolted in my recliner this morning when I saw the latest commercial for Academy Sports, in which spokesperson Danica Patrick was extolling the virtues of their new online shopping site.

Now while Danica Patrick is sure to start the engines of many a male viewer, let me be the first to say that Academy’s finally joining the e-commerce fray is not only rather late, but down right laughable. I mean, really. You’re finally getting around to admitting this thing is for real?

Rrrrr-iiii-nnnn-gggg!

“Hello? Oh yeah, sure. Hey, Academy. It’s for you. It’t the 21st Century calling.”

Now I am fully aware of the problems that Borders has had in the past with its own e-commerce site, first going it alone, then partnering with Amazon, and then going it alone again. But there have been professional online order fulfillment companies for quite a few years now (like GSI Commerce), which means that if a company does not feel like it can maintain that part of the operation, it can be outsourced to someone who can make it happen.

But Academy has opted instead to simply try to survive on in-store sales. Ironically, one of its biggest competitors, Gander Mountain, also just joined the 21st Century with online shopping.

What the heck were these guys thinking? “You know, I think these computers are really going to take off one day.”

Uh-huh.

To be sure, there are many firms still without a basic e-commerce website. But I have a hard time thinking of any large firms wondering if they’re going to show up for this party. The problem is that all of the main courses have already been consumed, and about all that’s left are some stale pizza and warm beer. The vast majority of the economic profits have already been claimed, and now if anyone launches a site, it is a defensive move. Academy and Gander have both been lapped a few times in this race. It’s certainly not an offensive maneuver the likes of which Danica Patrick could deliver with alacrity.

Even if she did cause my head to turn for the commercial. Too bad there’s no air in the tires.

Dr “Or Fuel In The Tank” Gerlich

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