Today we’re sitting down with CEO of Gearfire, JW Shultz to talk about what he sees in the industry and where Gearfire is heading in the coming months and years. Let's dive in!
Q: We hear all the time about how customer-focused companies vs sales focused companies are truly the best partnership for business owners. How are you keeping Gearfire customer-focused?
At Gearfire, we live and breathe customer service every day; we’re known industry wide as one of the best. But, it doesn’t just end there. Our team takes the time to document customer requests and feedback; we have technology councils comprised of industry leaders to guide our product development every step of the way. At Gearfire, we’re not just about building software, we’re committed to building tools our customers can use every day to grow their business and maximize efficiencies so there’s more time for customer interactions.
Q: What is your vision of our company in 5 years’ time?
It’s a very exciting time at Gearfire! I truly believe the next five years are going to be an incredible journey. Over that time period, this organization is singularly focused on building and enhancing our technologies and products that power outdoors sporting goods retailers. We’ve just launched the new Gearfire 2.0 eCommerce platform and our Gearfire Capital consumer financing program. The industry will see these Gearfire products continue to grow and evolve as well as see the Gearfire data products becoming more and more of the backbone for businesses large and small.
Q: What are the key projects we are working on this quarter?
Like everyone else, we’re still trying to recover from SHOT Show, but we definitely have a lot on our plates. We’re beginning to on-board clients to the Gearfire 2.0 platform and the Gearfire Capital financing program. Right now we’re just working to keep up with customer demand.
Q: What do you think is the number one reason customers buy our products?
They work – plain and simple. Gearfire offers effective, easy to use solutions tailored to the outdoor sporting industry. It’s one stop shopping for clients. Our team is composed of industry experts focused on our clients’ success and it shows in everything we do.
Q: Which resources do you use to keep up with industry news?
I am an avid reader and I’m subscribed to just about every newsletter and media outlet that covers the outdoor sporting goods industry. When I’m in my car I even listen to various, relevant pod casts. I think keeping up with the Outdoor Wires, NSSF and subscribing to regulatory newsletters like ATF are good place to start, but nothing replaces what you learn from directly interacting with clients every day.
Q: What is the greatest challenge the industry is facing?
Our industry is sea of constant change that results in uncertainty, and that makes the vast majority of people uncomfortable. There’s all these new technologies and regulations – more first time gun buyers than ever in history – COVID restrictions – product shortages – you name it! It’s hard for businesses to know where and how to focus their attention when it feels like everything is on fire. I think it’s crucial business owners keep open lines of communication with their team members to help guide their daily decisions and interactions – to let them know what the priorities are and where there’s some wiggle room. There’s so much beyond our control so having back up plans can keep the stress level slower.
Q: What are the main industry differences between pre- and post- COViD-19?
Honestly, I think it’s customer expectations – which is both positive and negative. Post COVID, customers really expect an online shopping and pick up in store option. They desperately need their non-chain store down the road to offer the same level of products and services the big box does – even if it takes a little longer. Customers are more flexible with timelines, but they want that online shopping experience. Customers seem to no longer feel like they have the ability to visit multiple stores and learn in person – they do their research online and want a way to ask questions and get feedback even when shopping online. It’s critical businesses recognize the buy / interact online and pick up in store isn’t going to go away any time soon, and adjust their business models to accommodate it or they’ll be left behind. It’s about online to in store and price isn’t the same level factor it used to be.
Q: What was the biggest innovation over the last decade in the industry?
By far, it’s technology – from the machines building the equipment to the software and data tools that power operations – tech is a key operating tool for the industry. I think it’s fair to say the industry was slow to adapt – slow to want to embrace technology on a lot of fronts – but now that businesses are seeing the efficiencies and insights that come with digital tools, there’s no going back, especially when every customer in your store has got a telephone in their hand doing their research as they shop your isles.
Great things are happening at Gearfire! Stay tuned to hear new and exciting insights from more industry titans!