Vendor Reseller Partnerships: Insight from REI’s Award-Winning Vendor of the Year

By Tinuiti Team

What is a Vendor Reseller Relationship?

Since vendors rely on resellers for a significant amount of revenue, and resellers rely on vendors to stock them with products — both parties, if done properly can benefit professionally and financially from maintaining a well-balanced relationship.

Developing and maintaining a healthy relationship requires vendors and resellers to continually check-in with each other to reassess procedures, policies, objectives, goals and to avoid competition within the same ad space.

Fundamentally, communication is going to be the most determining factor throughout a vendor — reseller collaboration.


Like any healthy personal relationship, both parties must remain open to sharing their ideas and concerns to avoid independent tunnel-vision or egocentric tactics.

bobby-jackson-eagles-nest-outfittersWe spoke with Bobby Jackson, Vice President of Sales at Eagles Nest Outfitters on his company’s latest award as REI Vendor Partner of the Year (2014) and what strategies he believes were a direct result of this successful partnership.

REI Awards Eagles Nest Outfitters Inc. Vendor Partner of the Year

REI’s Vendor of the Year Award REI is a $2 billion national multichannel retail co-op headquartered outside of Seattle.

With more than five million active members, REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers through innovative, quality products; inspiring classes and trips; and integrated customer services. REI has 138 stores in 33 states, and

The Vendor Partner of the Year awards program was established in 1993.

Each year, companies are nominated by the co-op’s three merchandising divisions — camp/travel, action sports and outdoor wear — for their efforts to build a strategic and successful relationship focused on meeting member and customer needs, and to bring quality, innovation, outdoor stewardship and performance to the industry.

About Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO)eagles-nest-outfitters

From a two-man, one-van operation, the company has grown significantly since it’s founding in 1999 to become one of the highest quality relaxation product distributors for outdoor enthusiasts including parachutes hammocks and other travel accessories.

“Eagles Nest Outfitters redefined the hammock category and saw amazing growth in 2014. They are the consummate vendor partner. With their highly engaged, collaborative and strategic approach, they worked closely with REI to continue to deliver product and maintained above-market performance through the year,” Susan Viscon, Senior Vice President of REI Merchandising said.

Best Practices of an Award Winning Vendor

Out of hundreds of vendors, REI selected Eagle’s Nest Outfitters based on the following criteria:


“In the outdoor industry, this is one of the most coveted awards. They [REI], of course is always looking for something extra. So above and beyond all of this, we were the number two selling SKU out of the whole company for the year. It’s obvious sales performance was a huge factor as well,” Jackson said.


Overcoming Vendor-Reseller Challenges

“The growth curve for our little company over the last four or five years has been steep. So while REI is growing with us and we’re enjoying a great partnership — we also have 700 other independent dealers (ex: Dick’s Sporting Goods & Bass Pro Shops). Our biggest challenge was making sure that we were able to deliver on time as close to 100 percent as possible. We were facing inventory challenges and it’s still that way today,” Jackson said.

Every year Eagle’s Nest Outfitters forecasts for the upcoming year what would be a healthy growth curve. Basically, they attempt to determine what and how much they can manage in the near future.

“When retailers are demanding more and more – I’d say the biggest challenge was keeping REI in stock and making sure they had enough product to be selling at all times. As far as the relationship: I wish every retailer was what REI is to us. There is a true relationship and a partnership there that goes beyond what we’re doing here — which is selling.”

Advice for Vendors

Although no one has a crystal ball, Jackson shares his company’s best practices to maintain healthy, balanced reseller relationships:vendor-reseller-white-paper


For more information on how to build a healthy vendor-reseller relationship check out our white paper below.

This guide includes why vendor – reseller partnerships matter, key elements to consider, and expert advice on how both parties can find success and maintain balance within their own SEM relationship.

Topics Discussed Include:


How to Build Healthy Vendor-Reseller SEM Partnerships





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