For the outdoor inclined, there are hundreds of places to do some online shopping for gear and apparel. Outdoorsmen and women can simply visit their favorite brand’s site, whether it be REI, Backcountry, Moosejaw, or Patagonia, but there’s really not much in the way of aggregation in outdoor retail. (Though there are European sites like GearZone.) As comparison shopping, loyalty, rebate and coupon sites have taken off in niche verticals, it’s only natural that the outdoor industry find its way into the mix.
Active Junky, a startup founded in 2009 that relaunched this week, is aiming to be a niche resource that brings together the biggest brands in the outdoor gear and apparel industry and allows users to share their opinions about these retailers, and get cash back for making purchases.
Active Junky is working with over 100 affiliates, including those mentioned above, to create a competitive marketplace for retailers, in which the biggest names will vie for new customers based on how much cash back they can earn through Active Junky, which, considering the price of a new pair of skis, will likely be of interest to cash-strapped outdoors enthusiasts.
Active Junky is essentially an Ebates-type cash back model for the outdoor industry in which users can browse through the site’s database of over 80,000 products to compare prices from retailer, clicking over to the retailer’s site to buy the product, earning cash back for every purchase. (ShopStyle for the outdoor market meets Ebates.)
Every 3 months, Active Junky cashes out a user’s “Junky Account”, at which point it will credit the user’s account on Paypal or donate the cash back to one of the startups non-profit partners, like the Nature Conservancy.
However, the startup’s goal here is not just to create a pure coupon or deal site, copy-and-pasting the Ebates or Fat Wallet model, says Founder and CEO Kevin McInerney, but to create a full-service community around the outdoor action sports world. Active Junky not only allows its users to compare prices on gear from outdoor brands and make purchases, but also offers content on adventure travel, action sports news, original videos, as well as gear reviews from the site’s writers and users.
In the near future, Active Junky plans to roll out a reward system, a la Gogobot or Consmr, in which users will be incentivized to write long-form, detailed reviews on products and gear. The more reviews users write, and the more active they are on the site, they will earn badges and rewards, as well as discounts and deals from the startup’s retail partners. The site also features a “Social Wall”, where users can keep tabs on what their friends are buying and reviewing, and post recommendations or suggestions for gear.
In its current form, Active Junky is positioning itself as an affiliate marketing platform for outdoor brands, driving traffic to the websites of those brands and, through partnerships, taking a cut of the increased revenue from sales and advertising efforts. While brands in all industries have been utilizing affiliate marketing through rewards programs, loyalty, comparison shopping, and all sorts of third party strategies for some time, the consumer is often unaware of these partnerships and how a comparison or cash back site (like Active Junky) profits from these relationships.
McIerney said that he wants Active Junky to be as transparent as possible in these forms and educate the site’s users about the commissions it receives from its retail partners, including offering the lionshare of those profits to its users.
“In the end, since it’s the user’s purchase, and because it’s their cookie we are tracking, we want our customers to experience the upside of that relationship”, McInerney said. “We want our customers to trust us, and we feel that transparency and profit-sharing is a good way to do this”.
Active Junky has currently raised $150K in angel funding and is looking to pursue further investment as it moves forward with its rewards programs.
For more, check out the video below, and let us know what you think. How can Active Junky better serve its users and become a go-to niche resource for the outdoor industry?