A lot has happened for Players Pickleball in the last several months! We've launched the Rogue Gel-Core series, the AVANT: Create Your Own Signature Series, and the new entry-level Scout paddle, all in the course of less than six months! We'll be talking lots about those in the coming weeks, but for now, we're going to continue with Part 3 of "Examining the Details".In Part 1, we talked about our custom-designed butt cap, the unique dome label, innovative injection-molded grip buildups, and our branded grip finishing tape. In Part 2, we discussed Serial Numbering of each and every paddle, paddle cores, our patent-pending contoured edge guard, our packaging, and a little about our pricing. In Part 3, we'll talk more about pricing structures & transparency, discuss stewardship, and mention the recently-released and USAPA-approved Avant and Scout paddles.
Pricing Structures - We receive lots of questions about the price of our Rogue paddles and how they can perform so well at such a low price. Our standard answer is a bit cheeky--we just say that we aren't overcharging for them! The full answer, of course, is a bit more complicated than that.
Traditionally the path from a product manufacturer has involved multiple steps, and in most cases, it still does--looking something like this:
In this model we, the manufacturer, produce a large quantity of paddles that is shipped out to a distributor who warehouses them and in turn, breaks the large quantities into smaller quantities and ships those out to dealers. The dealers then stock the paddles on their shelves. You, as the customer, walk in and purchase a paddle from the dealer. Looking at this model in reverse, we can follow the payment from your pocket, through the dealer's till, the distributor's account, and eventually back to us:
You can see that your payment is divvied up between the dealer, the distributor, and of course us, the manufacturer. Because everyone has bills to pay and transportation costs are increased, you end up paying more for your paddle in this model and we end up earning less for our efforts!
The technology and logistics we have had available for the past few decades has simplified the model somewhat so that in many cases, it can look more like this:
In this model, we build large quantities of paddles and ship them directly to a "MegaStore" that warehouses and fulfills orders to you. Again looking at the payment flow, you can see that it benefits both you as the consumer, and us as the manufacturer:
By eliminating one step in the distribution process, we can lower the price to you while increasing the amount we earn for our development and production efforts.
While this is a big improvement, it still suffers from some of the same drawbacks as the traditional distribution model. Because the MegaStore has its own rather large bills to pay, they require a large portion of the retail price--sometimes as much or more than 50% of the sale price! So if you pay $100 for a paddle, after the MegaStore takes their cut, the manufacturer of that paddle may only be making $50, which of course has to include their cost of manufacturing that paddle--both parts and labor--as well as the general cost of running the business. Once you subtract all of that from $50, they may only earn $10 on the $100 paddle you bought! Knowing that this puts a burden on their business, the only option the manufacturer has is to increase the price of their paddles. That increase gets passed along to the distributor and of course, on to you, the customer. The pushback on increasing prices is inevitable and justified, so the MegaStore does all they can to reduce costs, which puts pressure on the manufacturer to find cheaper ways to produce the product, rather than ways to improve the product. In short, innovation is stifled while the sale price increases. In many ways, it's a lose-lose scenario.
We live in an incredible era, with so much available quite literally at our fingertips! Whether at a computer or using our mobile devices, we can access nearly limitless information and products, all in a matter of seconds. In the past decade or so, e-commerce has boomed and provided a direct channel between manufacturers and customers that didn't really exist before. The new Direct-To-Consumer model looks like this:
In this model we, the manufacturer, can produce paddles in as-needed quantities, without the financial and logistical challenges of producing in bulk to supply the distributors and MegaStores. We can then send those paddles directly to you. We eliminate the extra transportation costs and simplify the whole process. You order directly from us and we ship directly to you. The biggest benefits, however, come from looking at the payment flow:
Here it's easy to see the simplicity and how both you, the customer, and we, the manufacturer benefit. Because we work directly with each other, rather than through an intermediary, we can charge you less while still making more for our efforts. This allows you to keep more of your hard-earned cash and allows us to devote more financial resources to developing better products and services, performing more charitable acts, and in general, feeling better about everything we are doing! On top of that, you can feel great knowing that you are buying a high performance product at an incredible price!
So the next time someone asks how our paddles can perform so well and cost almost half of our competitors' paddles, explain to them that it's a result of the direct relationship we have with customers when they buy directly from us!
- Transparency - As business owners and citizens of the modern world, we ourselves are consumers. We'd like to think that we might even be savvy consumers--often on the lookout for a good deal while always keeping our guard up against the swindle! We appreciate when a manufacturer is open (or as open as they can reasonably be) about their products and feel leery when we see or hear an excess of clever marketing verbiage, trying to convince us that we MUST buy!! We trust our gut and follow our instincts and try to find products from companies we can trust--not just those that spend the most money on advertising or have the best wordsmiths on their marketing payroll! As business owners, we keep this mentality in mind as we market our own brand and products. We are the first to admit that we don't think there is a "Holy Grail" of pickleball paddles and what feels wonderful to one player might feel awful to another. We try to back up any marketing claims we make with scientific research whenever possible and from the outset have used a platform of unbiased research and experimentation to guide our product development. Whether it's through the information we provide here on our news/blog pages, our social media posts & interactions, or direct communications through email, the phone, or in person, we will always be honest and forthcoming about our products and our company. We will of course always have some secrets about how we accomplish some of the things we do, but what's life without a little mystery?
- Stewardship - We truly believe that as manufacturers, we have to play a conscious role in how we operate our business with regard to the impact we have on the world around us. Whether it's using only biodegradable & recyclable materials in our packaging, planting a tree for every paddle we sell, or simply forging strong relationships and partnerships with our customers and vendors, we believe its our role to do all we can to look out for the people and the environment around us. We know there is so much room for improvement here for all of us and keeping that in mind throughout our days and nights can only help us continue to strive to always do better.
Avant - If you haven't already seen it, do check out the Avant. It's packed with more features than just about any other paddle you'll find out there and is built using an entirely new concept in design, integrating the edge guard and handle into one structural member, providing a direct connection between your hand and the ball that few paddles can. On top of that, our online configurator allows you to mix & match core materials and component colors to fine-tune the paddle to suit your style of play and sense of fashion!
Scout - The incredible response to the Rogue Gel-Core paddles, combined with the support we've heard from everyone for providing a high-performance paddle that can be delivered to your door for well under $100 motivated us to develop a paddle with plenty of performance that's even more affordable than that! Debuting at $49.99, the Scout is a perfect first-timer paddle, an upgrade from the old wooden paddle, a loaner paddle for friends and newcomers, or any other reason! Check it out!
There was a lot to digest in this part of "Examining the Details", and we appreciate you taking the time to read through it! We'll discuss the Avant in complete detail in Examining the Details, Part 4 coming soon! Cheers!