2005: Expanding Network promotes used-club market

Through its first year of operation, the PGA Trade-In Network has signed about 1,600 golf courses and stores as members. Now the initiative – designed to drive trade-ins of used golf equipment and generate sales of new equipment – has added a new incentive for PGA members to participate.

The Trade-In Network – jointly developed and run by the PGA of America, PGA.com, eBay and 3balls.com – has become a sponsor of Golf Retirement Plus, a supplemental retirement program for PGA members. Golf shops that join the Trade-In Network must have a PGA pro on staff.

“We’re trying to make it more of a no-brainer for these guys to sign up for the Trade-In Network,” said Joe Meyer, eBay’s senior category manager, sporting goods. “Now they have the opportunity

to make money on the front end for taking trade-ins and stimulating purchases of new products, and then make money on the back end with Retirement Plus.”

In addition to golf courses, some retail chains that have PGA pros on staff have joined the Trade-In Network. Dick’s Sporting Goods, the nation’s second-largest sports retailer, has joined the Trade-In Network. And Golf Galaxy, a Minnesota-based specialty chain, has adopted the PGA.com Value Guide, which continually updates pricing data based on equipment sales on eBay, as its standard when assessing the value of used clubs. Leigh Bader, president of 3balls.com, which manages the Trade-In Network, described that as a “wonderful third-party validation” of the Value Guide.

“Most people don’t know (the value of a used club), but they usually feel like it’s too low,” said Randy Zanatta, CEO of Golf Galaxy. “(Using the Value Guide) gets us out of the position of saying, ‘This is all we’ll give you.’ ”

Zanatta said his company plans to list its stores on the Trade-In Network map to drive consumer traffic.

At Whittier Narrows Golf Course in Rosemead, Calif., head pro Josh Smith said he recently joined the Trade-In Network to help spark new club sales. He described Whittier Narrows as a “high-volume public golf course” where merchandise sales have declined in recent years, “and it seemed like this might be a good way to kick-start it again.”

Liquidations through the Trade-In Network have generated credits used to purchase an estimated $2.5 million to $3.6 million in new products, according to Bader. He said the impact on sales of new products undoubtedly is much higher because some retailers resell the used clubs themselves, rather than having 3balls.com do so, and those transactions can’t be tracked by the Trade-In Network.

Bader said that the Trade-In Network also will begin setting up shop at Play Golf America Days, large demo days and clinics being held around the country. Consumers in attendance can get an immediate credit for their used clubs, and apply the credit toward the purchase of new clubs at the demo day. This program was piloted at a Play Golf America Day at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in December. At least 12 Play Golf America Days are planned this year.

Membership in the Trade-In Network has grown faster than anticipated, according to Bader. But by eBay’s standards, this is still a small, slow-moving program.

Meyer said eBay understands the Trade-In Network won’t have an significant impact on its revenues, but that the company has adopted a “longer-term viewpoint.”

“It’s not like some other things we do on eBay where you light a match and it ignites 24 hours later,” Meyer said. “There’s some more heavy lifting here, more blocking and tackling, but we think it’s worth the effort.”












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