Robert J. Kimmell is the President of RBI Shoes and Gear (RBISG). Robert has a history of success in the sporting goods industry. I came across the site Waders.com and reached out to Robert with some questions. Waders.com was created to offer a full range of industry leading brands and products. In addition, waders.com offers a selection of discounted, close-out and clearance product, at vastly reduced prices, from those well-known brands.
Mike: Is RBI the parent company of Waders.com? It looks like the domain is listed as the website for RBI. Tell me how the company evolved.
Robert: Yes, RBI is the parent company of Waders.com. RBI Shoes and Gear started out with two other websites. One, primarily focused on a specific outdoor Brand and the other was in the tactical footwear space. Unfortunately, after tremendous growth in the outdoor Brand site, the Brand and RBI couldn’t come to an agreement on what a future distribution model would look like that would work for both parties. It was then, that we decided to search for a domain that was simple and self-explanatory. We found Waders.com was a parked domain and available for sale. After we did some market, consumer and keyword research, we purchased the domain and began the process of getting the site and product assortment ready. The site was launched about 2 years ago and has had tremendous growth. As a side note, “RBI” are the initials of my daughters.
Mike: You have a strong sporting goods background as I mention above. What about the name Waders.com grabbed your attention and seemed like the right fit for the business? Was this always your niche within sporting goods?
Robert: We liked Waders.com because of the exact match domain name. It was short, to the point and it was a domain name that would resonate and give consumer confidence. Even though the category of waders is something I’m familiar with, the strength of my background is in outdoor, work and athletic footwear. The key to getting the Waders.com site started was we had a pretty good working knowledge of the vendor base. I have also developed private label waders and apparel in the past, so I understood the construction of the products that are being sold on the site.
Mike: You chose an excellent keyword domain name. Can you talk about the process to acquire the name and what you paid for it?
Robert: After we searched for the domain name that we wanted to go after, we worked with a number of people to try to acquire the domain and ended up working with a broker who we felt comfortable with. The broker reached out to the owner of the domain and started the conversation. The process took a few weeks but after some back and forth negotiation, we acquired the domain. It was a pretty straight forward process.
Mike: Can you share the monthly traffic the site receives? I’d imagine the organic traffic numbers alone are quite high.
Robert: We’re pleased with our traffic results as they continue to grow tremendously. I really want to stay away from specific numbers as the site is still relatively new. We expect growth to continue to outpace our expectations.
Mike: How about direct, type-in traffic (users just type in waders.com in the URL). Do you know how much of your traffic comes from this source?
Robert: As site awareness grows and we “age” ourselves on the internet, this is an area where we will probably see growth that outpaces organic.
Mike: As a business owner, how impactful have you found it to have a keyword domain name as opposed to a brandable name?
Robert: Unless you have a brandable domain that’s well known, like “Simms,” the wader company, it’s quite impactful to have a domain name that once you say it or see it “waders.com”, there’s really no further explanation that needs to be done. Consumers know from the name what the site is about.
Mike: I see you have Twitter, Facebooks, and Instagram accounts. How important is social media to running the business?
Robert: Unfortunately, you can’t have everything you want done put in place all at once. The importance of social media can’t be understated but the execution and the development of social has to come in stages at waders.com. What was important for us was to have a shoppable site, take care of our customers and make sure they have a good experience. Once we had that platform built, then we began to layer on other aspects of the business, including social media. We use social media to not only connect with our customers, we use it for brand awareness, content, site and product reviews.