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Old 14-02-2007, 17:59   #1
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Looking for feedback

Hey everyone,

I'm the new Sailboat Hardware, Anchoring, Docking and Ventilation Category manager for West Marine...ya ya, I know, the evil empire. I've been with West for 5 years but working in the stores (Canada). I've relocated the family to here in California and it's now my job to manage the Sailboat, Anchoring, Docking and Ventilation Categories into something that works for a majority of sailors (and powerboaters); be they racers, cruisers, newbies or experts. I'm sure you all have some opinions as to what we do well and what we don't. I certainly have my own on both sides of that fence. If anyone would like to table any constructive ideas as to how we can do a better job in serving your needs I hope this forum can present that opportunity. In the interest of making this helpful to everyone it would be great if this could not be a discussion about whether you like West Marine or not but instead on what we could do with our Sailboat and Anchoring Categories in particular to make your sailing even better.

Not looking to offend anyone by soliciting the feedback in this way. If the admins or users prefer I don't, I'll bow out. Otherwise, looking forward to hearing from you.

Happy cruising!!
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Old 14-02-2007, 19:05   #2
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Yeah, get the Rocna anchors, I just may get one of those if indeed they are as good as stated.

Also, uh, the prices at West Marine are not exactly discount deals.

No more matching price guarantee at my local West store here in FLL. In the past I could print an internet ad for a solar panel or whatever, then get the same price at WM..Not anymore.
Is that just a local policy, or is it system wide.?

I would buy all my stuff at West if the prices would be close to the discount deals I find all over the Internet.

(I know, overhead, drop shipping, huge staff and all that, but still...?)
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Old 14-02-2007, 19:10   #3
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Check your stock more often

Hi Richard,
Frequently I'll go into a West Marine to by something that requires a pair, such as genoa lead blocks, and there will be only one hanging on the rack. I know NOTHING about the retail business, but I would have bought the blocks if 2 were available at the time of purchase.

Any chance of having a West Marine in Mazatlan? There are some new commercial buildings going up right in front of the marina, it sure would be nice if a major marine supplier moved in.
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Old 14-02-2007, 19:41   #4
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Aloha Richard,
Welcome aboard!!
You'll get lots of feedback here.
There is no West Marine on the island of Hawaii so I can only shop through your catalog or call in an order to Honolulu. The last time I called in an order to the store in Honolulu (Port Supply account) with an order they lost the order and never sent it. The time before last they sent a wrong part even though I ordered the right one. They also did not send a packing list with prices. The store made it right but I still was out the dollars and time to send the part back to them.
At any rate, when I do go to the mainland I always duck into a West Marine just to see how the rich folks spend their money. The last really great store I visited was in Sausalito, the second best was in Portland. Fun to see all kinds of boat gear up close and touchable instead of pictures on pages.
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Old 14-02-2007, 21:17   #5
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Get rid of the Hipe. It is getting a bit to much. I have to research anything before I buy it for WM.

But good throw aways!!!!
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Old 15-02-2007, 03:59   #6
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I had never heard of you guys before I joined this website But no surprise given my location...........but the main thing I have heard is that many people do not like your company, I was quite surprised that folk even bothered not to like a Chandlers quite so much - not quite in the Microsoft league - but perhaps an indication that something somewhere is not quite right..............
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Old 15-02-2007, 06:06   #7
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Having been a wholesale distributer, I always objected to the price-matching policies of (some of) my competitors. I always recommend that pricing decisions be based upon the up-front offered price.
I also recommend that pricing is merely one of the important factors in purchasing decisions.

Having moved to the hinterlands in 2001, I've been West deprived for about 5 years.
I've been able to visit the Ft. Lauderdale (Federal Hwy) store most years, and have noticed that it now seems much less a marine chandlery, and more a nautical/yatchy boutique, than in the last century. Pity, that.
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Old 15-02-2007, 06:30   #8
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I do love being the odd one out.

Last year we got a price for a watermaker in the UK around £2,800.
We saw same item on West Marine site for around $2,800.
We were then told try ebay and saw Westmarine offering same units - we bid $2,000 - and got it.
It arrive within 7 days shipped direct to yacht in Med - worked out just fine - and I saved close to 50% on UK price.
So no bad reviews from Westmarine from me, folks.
Cheers
JOHN
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Old 15-02-2007, 14:26   #9
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I don't know whether this counts as West-Marine feedback or not (because I have never actually purchased anything from WM). Being stuck out in the middle of nowhere, I end up purchasing a lot of my chandlery stuff on-line. I spend thousands of dollars a year at either on-line stores or on eBay. I have perused WM stores on numerous occasions but have never purchased anything (price being my primary motivator). Take from that what you will (probably nothing ).
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Old 18-02-2007, 00:19   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swagman
I do love being the odd one out.

Last year we got a price for a watermaker in the UK around 2,800.
We saw same item on West Marine site for around $2,800.
We were then told try ebay and saw Westmarine offering same units - we bid $2,000 - and got it.
It arrive within 7 days shipped direct to yacht in Med - worked out just fine - and I saved close to 50% on UK price.
So no bad reviews from Westmarine from me, folks.
Cheers
JOHN
Well here is a bit of advice for all stores.If they offered the same price in-store as they let the product go for online that would save a whole lot of stuffing around in the first place.And ya carn't tell me their not making a profit with the on-line price,so how do they think it's worth $800 more in the shop.The more realistic the price's the more realistic the customers.But then again if ya take that advice to ya boss's they'll probably demote you to "In charge of chain and shackles" .Mudnut.
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Old 18-02-2007, 00:29   #11
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I agree 100%. I feel ripped off for one and on the other hand, why after I have just taken the time to come all the way into the store, should I then have to go all the way home again to do the sale. If it was a case of the $800 beign a saving on freight and stocking and so on and so on, that you could be given a store price and a 7day delivery price right there and then wouldn't you.
My biggest beef with these "supermarket" chain stores is that you no longer get peole that have a clue what they are talking about anymore. Often they are just kids getting a holiday job. Or the staff are told that this product is our flavour of the week/month product. Whatever, there is just no seriouse knowledge in the industry anymore.
I don't know what WM is like for product quality, but I often see in our chain store versions here, that the cheap Asian products are the norm. Quality has gone out the window. It's all about price.
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Old 18-02-2007, 09:51   #12
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I have to say that the WM store here in Hampton has been great. The full time help are very knowledgeable, the part time help less so. Almost all of the help are boaters in a big way, from live aboard, to racing, etc.always willing to help.

Most of the time if they have an item in stock I'll buy it at sticker price, and have been surprised on occasion that the price was actually cheaper than I found on the web! Could be that having a Boaters World a few blocks away has something to do with this. Even if they are a bit higher, it saves me form running all over town to find what I need.

On the big ticket items, or something not stocked in the store, I will price match. I figure that if I have to do the work of finding the product, and coming to them to order it, I deserve a cut in the price. The other nice thing about having them order an item is that if there is something wrong with it W/M will take care of it, special order or not, no questions. I've ordered such non WM stocked items as windlasses, chain, anchors, water heaters, etc, and they have always given me web price without a problem and acted as my agent without pause. Then there's those nifty little $ reward certificates that show up in the mail just for having them order it!

Yes, they may be a tad more expensive than some, but having them local and having "most" of the things I need on hand makes it worth it to me.

That said, if there were a Fawcetts here....
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Old 18-02-2007, 11:37   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Wheeler
My biggest beef with these "supermarket" chain stores is that you no longer get peole that have a clue what they are talking about anymore. Often they are just kids getting a holiday job. Or the staff are told that this product is our flavour of the week/month product. Whatever, there is just no seriouse knowledge in the industry anymore.
I have a West Marine store in my home port. I'm a "regular" there. There's always the friendly "hello!" when I walk in - all good. Like Wheels, however, I have found the knowledge of the staff to be limited. Our store also has what seems to be a very high turnover rate of employees. If ever they do find new employees that are knowledgable, their tenure is short-lived.

As for pricing, as a commercial boating entity, I have a Port Supply ("wholesale") account with West Marine. While that can save me some big bucks on a lot of items, I've found that I can often do even better by shopping around online. (I've had very good experiences with Defender Marine.)
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Old 18-02-2007, 16:44   #14
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It is hard to beat Defender.
My Wife now works at West Marine and I am surprised at how they treat their employees. I now understand why they have such a high turn over.
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Old 19-02-2007, 11:38   #15
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Responding.....finally

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the delay in responding. I actually already had one lengthy response that I tried to post on Friday but it got lost when I tried to submit. Here's another shot at it.

It's evident that I may have opened a can of worms to some degree. A quick response to some of your concerns;

All feedback is helpful and after 5 years in the stores and field I'm OK hearing much of the criticism. A lot is highly subjective but all is valuable. What doesn't as often get written or said publically is all the great service, pricing, selection, etc experiences that many customers continually have in our stores, online and through other channels like Port Supply. There's no question we have our opportunities, short comings, etc. but on the whole we work extremely hard to hit each component of our mission statement; Great quality of work life, Better than expected customer service, Responsibility to our communities and the environment, and Profitability for our share holders. There are thousands of current and past West Marine associates who enjoy the company and literally hundreds of thousands of customers who also get a lot from what we do. Our motto is "We make boating more fun" and while we will always have opportunities to improve our offerings, in general, we provide a great service to many, many, many boaters all over the world. We simply wouldn't exist without the continued support of our many customers so we must be doing the odd thing right. As David_old_jersey points out; as the big dogs in the industry, we get a lot more attention and criticism to go with the kudos that are out there as well. Part of the role.

Hey Swagman, Alan Wheeler and Mudnut - Quick response on the unit bought for $2000 on ebay. Ebay was something we were doing to sell discontinued product only. If it was offered up there it was because we decided to not carry it anymore for some reason. Discontinued items get pretty good discounts as we try to move them out of the warehouses so that would explain the $800 difference.

Now, off my soap box.

It's not that I don't want to respond to each concern raised but the hope was to focus more on what I can control; the assortment of the Sailboat Hardware, Anchoring, Docking and Ventilation categories.

Pricing concerns, staff knowledge/turn-over concerns, etc. are all legitimate but short of giving my 'take' on it, or even worse, writing long winded defenses, these aren't things I can fix on my own. I'm also certain that your Cruiser's Forum community would prefer this thread not be a series of my defending general criticisms of West Marine. The beauty of our world is that everyone has a choice. Hopefully we can continue to do enough great things that most of you will choose to do business with us now or at some point in the future.

My real hope was to get constructive feedback on the assortments in the areas that I am responsible for.

So......in response to those specific questions about my categories.......

Re: Rocna Anchors from CSY Man - We're working on it. Both West Marine and Suncoast Marine (NA's Manufacturer and distributor) are hoping we can carry them in the near future. Can't know for sure until all the details are worked out. In the meantime I know you can get one directly from Suncoast in Vancouver, BC.

Re: Depth of block inventory from Rod Headlee - We are working on a plan right now that should help address this exact point. I've experienced it myself in our stores. The project should cover more than just blocks as well. It will address similar issues in a variety of categories and should help to ensure you can more of what you need.

Any other questions specific to my categories that I can answer?

Rich
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