S&S Cycle Pushing Online Retail Sales With New Internet Policy.

It’s mind-boggling to think that up until 2 decades ago, the Internet was almost non-existent and that most of you thought that you would never give up shopping in stores. Today, companies are selling products, publishing, and broadcasting online like crazy and you spend much more time on your digital devices shopping and buying online than in stores, reading digital news much more than watching TV and of course reading print magazines…

 Some in the industry, especially the custom part vendors, saw the web and the proliferation of online parts retailers as a huge threat and reacted by discouraging online sales. S&S Cycle was one of these companies having a very restrictive Internet Reseller Policy (IRP)… until they realized that it was in their best interest to use the web as a way to connect to more potential clients and to sell more products around the world.

So, S&S Cycle decided to replace their old internet policy (IRP) by a new one called Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) encouraging retailers actively to promote and sell S&S parts on e-commerce sites, provided prices shown are not less than S&S’ manufacturer’s suggested retail prices. Unlike the IRP, the MAP policy will maintain the price integrity expected for premium brands like S&S and Crane, not only in online advertising but in all forms of communication including radio, television, flyers, posters, newspapers, catalogs, coupons, mailers and email marketing.

By changing its policy, S&S Cycle recognizes that Internet is today’s most powerful and efficient sales tool and that many of its resellers have invested in costly online solutions giving the brand a worldwide reach that the company would not be able to acquire by itself. Several direct S&S Cycle’s competitors already encourage retailer online sales. The new S&S policy agreement must be signed by resellers before March, 31 2012. It can be read and accepted at S&S Cycle MAP Policy.

31 Responses to “S&S Cycle Pushing Online Retail Sales With New Internet Policy.”

  1. 1 Joe Cree Jan 8th, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    It’s about time but the MAP is limiting and ridiculous. If I’m willing to take less profit per unit than other resellers that should be my business. I do sell a lot of their engines and at drastically lower prices than most anyone else I’ve seen. If I’m willing to do that it doesn’t effect S&S, actually it effects them in the positive as I’m able to sell more units by offering them at a better price.

  2. 2 Woody Jan 8th, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    If everyone sells for less than eventually the real “worth” of the product drops and soon dealers pressure the mfr. to lower their prices because there’s no profit to be made. An endless circle with pros and cons both ways. One fact that can’t be ignored is the internet has changed marketing forever. Used to be you purchased thousands of dollars worth of full-page magazine ads to show the Country your wares, now at most you can use a ¼-page ad to steer them to a 1000pp website. In the long run, folks who turn over the Drag Catalog for beer money hurt the industry more than they help it IMO. It’s just driven production overseas so folks can get their $100 bling for $50.

  3. 3 Ken Jan 8th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Joe, defined as cut throat non business practice you mean. True business operator’s with a storefront and overhead don’t approve of your actions.

  4. 4 Boss Hawg Jan 8th, 2012 at 3:34 pm


    I am in the retail business. It’s called Brand Equity Protection to protect the product. All authorized dealers sell the products for the same price…eliminates cross shopping and keeps your most valued customer base buying locally from you!

    If the S&S policy is structured correctly, it will be to your best interest. First off, if you are a valued dealer, S&S should will make it mandatory that all internet dealers collect sales tax in the amounts as it applies to the shipping address’s municipality tax rates where the engine is being shipped.

    Secondly, S&S must mandate that all internet dealers have “physical” locations in your state so as they must pay the SAME SALES TAX RATES your states Dept. Of Revenue as you now do.

    Thirdly, S&S must have all dealers sign dealers agreements to protect the brand. Most importantly here, if a dealer is caught not complying with the S&S dealer agreement, then S&S voids the respective dealers agreement. NO SLAPS ON THE WRIST.

    Fourthly, S&S must charge all dealers equal pricing (its called “FAIR TRADE”)…this was not done in the past (I have spreadsheets from S&S that clearly show several varying price structures) and, I would go to say that it may not be done now either. Get S&S to show you what Big Bear Choppers, Big Dog Motorcycles, American Ironhorse, etc…paid for engines…you betcha…Brother.

    Trust me…if all above is followed and enforced, it makes for for money for you with more sales.

    Boss Hawg

  5. 5 Woody Jan 8th, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    @Boss, I agree for the most part, but I think your blurring the line between a dealer and manufacturer. I would have no problem with a company selling a thousand eggs to a bakery for less ea. than they’d charge the corner grocery who’s going to sell them AS eggs instead of a product containing eggs.

  6. 6 Luis Jan 8th, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    How does mandating a sales tax collection from an out of state purchase fly legally? Will the vendor then remit the extra fee to the purchasers home state or pocket it? Normally its the purchasers responsibility to report it to the state they live in I do know that no one ever does this

  7. 7 haron ali Jan 8th, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    thank you, I love the black w/ red frame

  8. 8 haron ali Jan 8th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I am in the retail business. It’s called Brand Equity Protection to protect the product. All authorized dealers sell the products for the same price…eliminates cross shopping and keeps your most valued customer base buying locally from you

  9. 9 deadwod1783 Jan 8th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I’m glad S & S is doing this. If you are a real business, it protects us all equally. You can sell your product for whatever discount you want. You just can’t advertise it that way. I’m tired of spending hours of phone support time trying to win business because someone saved $50 on say a Fuel Injection Tuning Product sold 800 miles away by a discounter who can not or will not offer support after the sale. That’s why you need your local shop. Because most discouneters do not have the expertise, and even if they do, the customer can not effectively communicate the issue to the long distance discounter even when they do try an offer support. The local guy gets his throat cut on pricing, trys to help fix an issue to win the customer back from cyberspace and ends up closing his doors because there are no margins left. Support is not a public service freebie. Its an invaluable part of the purchase experience.

  10. 10 C&S Cycle, Inc. Jan 8th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Boss Hawg,

    For as long as I can remember S&S has sold motors to motorcycle manufacturers for less money than they sell them to dealers. They also sold motors to higher volume motorcycle manufacturers for less than they sold to distributors that carry their line. The motors were not individually sold therefore had no effect on the brand equity protection. Just meant better margin for the motorcycle manufacturer. It will be interesting to see how the pricing structure changes for dealers.

    I have never heard of charging sales tax on out of state sales. Is this something S&S is stating or are you just speculating? Doesn’t sound right to me.

    I can’t say I blame our customers if they buy from out of state if it saves them $500.00 + bucks in local sales tax. You and I would do the same. I would also never advocate taxing out of state sales just to level the playing field.


  11. 11 Joe Cree Jan 8th, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    First, I have a brick and mortar shop and have been a licensed custom builder/manufacturer for over 20 years. Been an S&S for the same amount of time. I’ll sell parts for whatever price makes sense to my business. I sell more motors than anyone else I know of, especially given that we’re a small shop. We are qualified at their highest dealer level for discounts.
    I’m not legally obligated to collect sales tax for any out of state sales, not sure where you get your information. I will sign and abide by their MAPP contract and the selling price will not be what we are required to advertise on our web site. Considering the number of online only shops that are under cutting us real brick and mortar shops I don’t feel bad for offering motors at an affordable price to my customers.

  12. 12 Steve Jan 8th, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Before everyone gets bent out of shape it is probably the same as many companies. You advertise at a set price but if the consumer contacts you direct you can then bargin a better deal. I see this often. This allows the consumer to pick and choose who he decides to contact and leaves the playing field level on advertising.. I might have this worng but it probably works this way.

  13. 13 Tom Maioli Jan 8th, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Of course MAP is nothing new. I remember back in the early ninety’s Summit and Jegs were selling Edelbrocks most popular small block Chevy aluminum intake manifold first for $119.95 then $109.95 then $99.95 and I think they got down to $89.95. Edelbrock wanted to sell it for $119.95 but Summit & Jegs actually determined what the retail price would be. Edelbrock came out with the minimum advertised price. What happened was on the same page in their mail order catalog, Summit had a “Instant Rebate “cupon worth $20.00 or $30.00. for that manifold.

  14. 14 Nobody Jan 9th, 2012 at 1:42 am

    Good to see a company learn instead of blindly doing things as is.

    It takes a 25%+ savings (pirce+shipping) before I’ll order online. I like to roll home with the part in my backpack when I buy it, and an online order form is terrible at talking shop.

  15. 15 kickstart Jan 9th, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Anybody can sell anything for any amount they want.
    That is capitalism, this is America (at least that’s where I am).
    That’s all I have to say about that

  16. 16 Woody Jan 9th, 2012 at 8:10 am

    @kick Very true, but they may find they’ll quickly run out of things to sell if they can’t reorder because they are hurting the companies that supply them. I remember about 4-5 years ago that Corbin did the same type of thing as S&S is now. Mike, care to weigh in? I doubt there are too many folks around here with your years of experience on this, especially as internet sales exploded over Dealership orders. Thx.

  17. 17 BossHawg Jan 9th, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Joe…Most here know you are a brixmor business.

    Sales Tax is sales tax, and you are correct…you do not have to collect if it if it is an out of state sale. However, in this regard, virtually all states have a “USE TAX” which is equal in sales tax, but I will make wagers that not one of your customers pays it as their state Dept. Of Revenue law requires. Therefore, that is tax evasion and not avoidance which subjects ones self to self prosecution for tax evasion.

    Your response speaks volumes as to why you do what you do. Some bike builders are the best of builders while others are not, however, that is just what they are and and not true business men!. Associate yourself with some true retail associates in a necessity based business, not a want item business as you are in, and learn how to make some real money in the coming years.

    MC…it really has nothing to do with “For as long as I can remember S&S has sold motors to motorcycle manufacturers for less money than they sell them to dealers. They also sold motors to higher volume motorcycle manufacturers for less than they sold to distributors that carry their line” as you say. BUT, It does have to do with FAIR TRADE for one and all!

    Based on your comments, you obviously have not ever purchased a motor vehicle “out of state” or a Tempurpedic Mattress set online. Fair tax sounds right to me and if we all paid a fair sales tax, it would help all brixmor businesses tremendously. Personally I don’t speculate and I do advocate fair tax for all.

    To the rest of you gentlemen….great comments.

    I will not respond to any further conjecture here.

    Peace Brothers and Enjoy!

    Put a breeze between your knees and ride safe.

    Boss Hawg

  18. 18 Jason Hallman Jan 9th, 2012 at 8:56 am

    The question here is: Will S&S remain in the manufacturer/wholesale role? The real hurt will come if S&S sells retail to the public. If done incorrectly, this will hurt their relationships with the retailers that have worked hard to build a reputation and relationship with S&S as an S&S dealer. Today that still means a lot in the brick & motor world.

    On the flip side of that, Baker sells to the general public and I can say that they DO NOT under cut their dealers. It gives them a direct line of contact with the end user and with all of the smaller shops that have failed in the last few years, Baker has done a spectacular job at maintaining their customer base when the shop that installed a DD6 goes under, Baker steps up and maintains their warranty and tech brilliantly. James and Scott are on point with that as are Bert and Lisa Baker.

    The issue of sales tax…technically (by law) we are all supposed to pay sales tax in the state that the item we buy in another state is to be used in. Right now we are all still on the “honor system” and well…lets be honest, we know how that turns out. Unless you are building a ground up custom and have to surrender your MSO to the DMV you aren’t paying sales tax am I right?

    I am in favor of some sort of tax regulation of the internet but not a new tax. The e-commerce sites should have to collect sales tax for the state the sale originated in (no different than if you drove up to Iowa and shopped at J&P’s store and paid Iowa sales taxes). I have a brick and mortar shop that competes for all of the parts business I get. I wrote a piece some years ago in The Horse about online sales and I wont go into detail here but until a laptop computer can install a tire we will need a few brick and mortar bike shops around.

  19. 19 Mike corbin Jan 9th, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Be careful that the discounters don’t bury you..

    Make sure there is only real dealer price and bike owner price,,

  20. 20 Woody Jan 9th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    re; taxes It’s a separate subject and if it were simple it’d be solved by now 😉 In most states if you by a motor vehicle outside the state (and taxes aren’t collected and forwarded) you’ll have to pay the State taxes when you register the vehicle so it’s a moot point. As far as all of us internet sellers collecting the sales taxes, that would add huge costs to doing business and that’s why it’s been resisted so far. Between various different State, County, City, and various “special” taxes like stadium districts, there are over 1000 different tax rates to be collected and they keep changing. Add to that a minimum of 50 different places to send taxes to and you’re spending a lot of time & money on added bookkeeping. Even a simple compromise of one common tax rate for all internet sales would require 50 checks sent every quarter. If the goal is to kill small business, this tax situation could really help if done wrong. (I’m from the Government-I’m here to help, theory) I realize this is off track of the original article, my apologies if that irritates some. @Mr. Corbin, thanks for the input 🙂

  21. 21 BobS Jan 9th, 2012 at 11:17 am

    One thing to remember for the “sell at whatever price I want to ” believers. And for this post I use wholesale terminology, not making an accusation at anyone in particular. If ten percent of S & S’ customer base decides to go lowball and whore the market, the other 90% quickly gravitate to another brand. Which will kill S & S. This is where manufacturers have such a vested interest in supporting prices. In the past they could just ban Internet selling, but that won’t fly anymore. They can establish MAPs and they can “sell” online themselves for full MSRP. Of course as a manufacturer I would really have no interest in retail sales, I really just want to support my dealers margin by establishing a retail market value. I suspect this is Baker’s tactic. As a manufacturer if my customers ( the dealers ) are making a profit marketing my product they will continue to do so. As soon as they have to trim margin to brake even levels, they will start to look at my competitors for a product they can make a profit on.

  22. 22 Jason Hallman Jan 9th, 2012 at 11:41 am

    What about the lack of inter-personal attachments that internet customers are willing to accept? I think you and I agree that the internet is certainly here to stay and with that said I agree 100% that as a retail shop I still have a much higher potential to encounter an unhappy customer than the internet retailer simply because I actually have a showroom they can walk into. Heck, I encounter other people’s unhappy customers when a frustrated internet customer is tired of yelling at their lap top.

    The internet mainly breeds two kinds of clientele’:

    1 – The customer that knows “everything” because before he (or she) parts with a single cent they read every review (positive and negative) about the product they want and they come in telling YOU what they want without any regard for your professional opinion or your experience. That is a one sided transaction at best. One that requires you to simply regurgitate the price you are willing to sell said item for and whether or not “your warehouse” has it in stock.


    2 – The customer that knows nothing about the part they are buying and they have done no research…they only know that “their buddy has a Super G on his 80″ engine…so it has to work on mine”. They get no tech info and due to their ignorance they run around telling everyone that S&S “carbs suck”. What they don’t do is find out why the Super G that is designed for a 113 cubic inch engine doesn’t work properly on an 80″ stock evo.

    Both customers are sometimes best left to someone else. I have put a lot of time into learning my trade and I enjoy when someone takes the time to listen to the answer that I give them based on my experience. And you know what? When I am wrong…”I” eat that Super G!

    At the end of the day…the consumer sets the fair market value…the manufacturer can decide to sell it for that or cease operations.

  23. 23 HTS Jan 9th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Others have said it well.

    Nobody wins a price war. One dealer discounts, so another does too, and so does another. Then the manufacturer has a retail price of $1000 but the realistic street price is $720, so when the manufacturer is looking for new dealers, nobody wants to carry it because dealer price is $700, so why do they want to tie up 7 bills just to make $20? They don’t.

    And in the end, the guy selling them for $720 captures a ton of the market because he’s the cheapest seller… except he isn’t making any money. He was working out of his spare bedroom anyway and he has a full-time day job, so he shuts down his Internet business without giving it a 2nd thought and focuses on his 9-5 job.

    And now the manufacturer has to find new dealers and they are happy to sell the item, but they all know the real street price is just over $700 so they want them for $500 to make any money. Except the cost of manufacturing them was $550, so the manufacturer is screwed… all the dealers are screwed…. the customers are screwed because the product is no longer available.

    A vicious circle.

    I have never seen a business whose key to success was “we’ll sell for such a low price that we’ll guarantee we’re making less profit than anyone else!”. It’s a sure fire way to lose your shirt. If you can’t add any value beyond a low price, you’re not cut out for retail, IMO.

  24. 24 Jason Hallman Jan 9th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    HTS: Amen!

  25. 25 Captain John T. Awesome Jan 9th, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Steve, Jason and HTS: Thanks for the explanation of the principals involved in this MAP decision from S&S. It seemed pretty draconian at first glance but once I got a better understanding of the complex situation I can see why this sort of policy is in place.
    But, honestly, the wording used in the article, “the MAP policy will maintain the price integrity expected for premium brands”, just sounds pretentious and terrible. The question that remains with me due to that statement alone, is how much of the price of an S&S engine is due to manufacturing cost and how much is due to it being a “premium brand”. Obviously i don’t expect to see any public analysis of their manufacturing costs and profit margins but it still makes me a little leery. I have no problem paying a fair price for an item and I don’t begrudge anybody the opportunity to make a profit. But it does stick in my craw when I see the huge markup on certain “premium” merchandise that goes far above and beyond a reasonable profit. A few guitar manufacturers come to mind. I understand supply and demand and all the mechanics of the the situation, but when you force your dealers to sell for a certain price, you are subverting the laws of supply and demand.
    I don’t know, maybe I’m looking at it too simplistically. I’m not accusing S&S of anything of course, but the whole “premium” thing just convinces me not to bother with them anyway. For the same reason I walked out of my university orientation when they starting preaching at us about how we were all going to be the “elite” and all our friends that went to community college would be mowing our lawns.LOL Just complete nonsense. My brother had an Aprilia that was advertised as “Reassuringly Expensive”. The actual tag line. It was the biggest and most expensive lemon I’ve ever experienced. 80 grand into it and it still wouldn’t run right. Expensive doesn’t always mean good.

  26. 26 John Williams Jan 9th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    It’s called Free Enterprise, not price fixing. Any dealer that wants to sell S&S products can sell them for what ever price they want to. Most other industries do so. Motorcycle prices and parts prices are redicuously high. When I look thru the Jegs and Summit Racing catalogs I see Manufacturers that sell both Motorcycle Parts and Car parts. Such as Crane cams and Hooker headers. The V-8 cams and headers are half the price of the motorcycle headers and cams.

    Ride on

  27. 27 deadwood1783 Jan 9th, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    The auto market is larger. Its an economy of scale issue. Just as much r & d x fewer parts sold = higher dealer and retail prices. The motorcycle industry as we know it will cease to operate if some sort of level playing field for dealers is not established and enforced. One large mfg of tuning products is starting to learn this now as one large internet operation has devlaued their product to such a level many dealers are simply using other tuning products primarily because the margin on their product has been decimated.And they find themselves grandfathered into a deal they can’t get of.. When people whore out good products to this point it is good for no one long term.

  28. 28 Jason Hallman Jan 9th, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    One thing that needs to be noted here…insurance costs for part manufacturers is astoundingly more expensive than liability insurance for auto parts which require almost no insurance at all. For example: if you were to wreck your automobile on any track…your policy would be null and void. There is an implied risk associated with that use even if the part in question were to cause the failure (accident). You were racing and you assume the risk. Motorcycles do not stand up alone so therefore the risk that is associated is much different (it is still perception mostly). The “premium” brand part carries with it some costs that other non-premium brands like Ultima & Revtech do not. Drag Specialties has minimum requirements of liability before they will even consider selling your products (I think it is 2-million bucks). They do that to insure they will not be pulled in to a libel suit should one arise. Don’t discount S&S just because they are expensive. The company is 50 years old and there are costs of doing business that they have simply by being at the top for so long. Not to mention all the R&D they do that is instantly copied by other manufacturers of lesser priced goods. Unless there is a new patent, they cannot sue for infringement either. The bottom line here is that S&S is only leveling the playing field for shops like mine and green lighting online sales for guys like me and Joe.

  29. 29 Bud Jan 10th, 2012 at 9:48 am

    All they’re regulating is advertised pricing. You can sell their stuff for however much you want. If you want to sell it for less than MSRP, just advertise “Call for Pricing.”

  30. 30 Maytag Jan 10th, 2012 at 10:52 am

    “Mike corbin
    Jan 9th, 2012 at 10:15 am
    Be careful that the discounters don’t bury you..

    Make sure there is only real dealer price and bike owner price”

    Sage advice.

    Jegs and Summit killed the speed shops in America, and forced the ridiculous margins that now exist in automotive aftermarket. Web selling is here to stay, and MAP policies help to control aggressive price undercutting that devalues the hot product of the moment. It is a full time job to enforce and becomes another expense for the producer, since there are so many portals to monitor and the site hosts are not much help.

    Without the support of the MAP policies, history will repeat itself in our industry. MAPs are better than nothing – it’s a vicious circle as was stated above.

  31. 31 The Biker Web Jan 10th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I dunno… I can see the point of brand equity, etc. but it smells like price fixing to me. A bit less American than I’d expect the biker community to normally put up with.

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Cyril Huze