Backcountry.com honored by PC Mag
There are thousands of online businesses in the United States. The editors of PC Magazine set a goal to whittle the list down to the 20 best, but they didn’t plan do it alone.
Employees of the magazine scoured the net to find their favorites, but they also used nominations from readers. After what Senior Editor Sebastian Rupley called "countless hours," the deed was done, and one of the 20 businesses left standing was a Park City original.
In their Oct. 17 issue, PC Magazine will name Backcountry.com, which has its corporate offices in Redstone Shopping Center above Bed, Bath & Beyond, as one of the top, small, online businesses in the country.
"There are 20 small business we sorted from thousands and Backcountry.com was one of them," Rupley said. "I believe they were nominated by someone in the local area, but I’m not positive. We checked them out, and they were exactly what we were looking for."
Rupley said the growth rate at the company was one of the things that caught his eye.
"They have under 250 employees and their rate of growth was striking," he said. "They have a rate of growth of over 250 percent, I think, which is more than they can probably handle, but somehow they get it done."
As they looked for businesses to honor, Rupley said the main component they were investigating was each company’s use of technology. That, Rupley continued, was where backcountry.com shined like a laserlight.
"For the story we were really looking for innovative use of technology and Backcountry has a Web site that makes it easy to buy outdoor gear without having to go out to a store," he said. "It’s an efficient site that runs very smoothly. If you’re going to do business online, you have to replicate the ease of shopping in a store in an online forum, and they do that very well."
Rupley said that many of the other hyper-successful online business were simply spin-offs of an existing technology, such as a company that uses an already successful site like Ebay. Others, he said, find a niche and run with it, such as yoyonation.com, a company that sells everything imaginable associated with yo-yos.
"We launched it because small business are one of the fastest growing business categories there’s a lot of interesting action there," he said. "This is the first generation of this but we are planning on doing it every year. Another nomination form will go up on our site soon."
Jim Holland, CEO of Backcountry.com, said he hopes the success continues.
"It’s always nice to get some recognition," he said. "We work pretty hard and it feels good to be recognized. It’s refreshing to hear that other people think we’re doing some things right, especially PC Magazine. They’re in the know."
Holland said one of the reasons for their success is their ingenuity with online forums. Backcountry.com is the parent site for four others: Dogfunk.com (snowboarding specialty), Tramdock.com ("all things skiing"), Backcountryoutlet.com ("spotty sizes, but the best prices") and Steepandcheap.com ("The QVC model for gear").
"We started running niche focus sites about 2 years ago and we fill all those orders out of our Salt Lake warehouse," he said. "It’s always our goal to create as frictionless anexperience as possible," Holland said. "That’s what E-commerce is all about making the navigation intuitive. We want it something that anyone, even my grandmother, could figure out. But there is improvement to be made."
He said the company’s high rate of growth is a challenge, but a welcome one.
"Managing this rate of growth is very challenging," he said. "We grow out of physical facilities very fast. But I think we’ve mapped out the future pretty well now."
Holland said the company originally came to Park City for the same reason most people and business come the outdoor lifestyle.
"John [Bresee, Backcountry.com president] and I were attracted to Park City because of all the recreational activities available here. It makes it easier for us to find excellent people because people who are attracted to this sort of thing are in Park City already."
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.