For anyone whose wardrobe features outdoor clothing, this post is for you. I'll be taking a look at the various customer membership programs across three of the largest outdoor clothing/equipment retailers in Australia (Kathmandu, Mountain Designs and Anaconda) to uncover the real value behind their club memberships. Most importantly, figuring out whether or not they're actually worth your time and money.
KATHMANDU - SUMMIT CLUB
Cost: $10 one off payment.
Benefits: 10% off all full priced items and 20% off full priced Kathmandu gear.
Rewards Program: $20 gift voucher for every $500 spent.
Kathmandu customers have the option of joining their "Summit Club" where membership will cost you a one-off payment of $10. This used to be an annual subscription but they've scrapped it for the more favourable one-time-only signup fee instead. Once a member, you'll get 10% off full priced items year round along with 20% off full priced Kathmandu merchandise as well.
You'll also receive access to exclusive Summit Club member sales and promotions. For example, right now they're running a 50% off promo on selected fleece, jackets and kids’ gear until the 27th of August 2014. On top of this, for every $500 spent members will also receive a $20 gift voucher to be used on their next purchase. A Summit Club membership card, which members receive when signing up, allows Kathmandu to keep track of your spending in this regard.
They even have their own app (iPhone and Android) that provides you with virtual access to your membership card. This let's you check your rewards program balance at any time based on the amount you’ve spent with them. Another perk of the Summit Club is the partner benefits, such as Intrepid Adventures 10% off offer on the majority of their travel trips. You can view the entire list of who these partners are and what benefits/offers are available to members here.
There's good news for any previous Summit Club members who may have let their subscriptions expire, as Kathmandu are currently allowing these customers to exchange their old membership cards for new ones free of charge. They only thing that I personally feel is missing from the overall benefits of this membership program, is either a reduction in their standard shipping fees for online orders (i.e. $10) or at least lowering the free shipping threshold down from $100. If the former were put in place, I'm fairly certain that many more new members (not to mention existing ones) would be willing to pay an even higher signup fee in order to signup.
MOUNTAIN DESIGNS - ALLIANCE CLUB
Benefits: 10% off RRP on everything.
Rewards Program: N/A
Becoming an Alliance Club member at Mountain Designs offers a decent array of benefits, particularly considering that it'll cost you nothing to join. Membership entitles customers to 10% off the RRP of everything both in-store and online, year on year. You'll get advance notice of any upcoming sales and new products launches, invitations to Alliance Club Days (offering even greater discounts on existing sales), as well as other exclusive member-only discounts on products (e.g. the extra 20% off already reduced items promo during this year's 4 day Easter sale).
As with Kathmandu's membership, Alliance Club members will also receive partner benefits or discounts when making purchases through these partner's stores/websites. However, details around exactly who these partners are is a bit sketchy on the website, so I wasn't able to provide a comprehensive list here unfortunately. Mountain Designs have their own smartphone app too (here's the link to the iOS version), which basically lets you browse for items and make purchases via your mobile.
The threshold for shipping at Mountain Designs is lower than Kathmandu's. But even at $100, I still feel that Alliance Club members would probably have also preferred a reduced rate or free delivery altogether (thus saving them $12.50 per order) in return for having to pay some sort of membership fee to join.
(Can you tell yet that I'm not a big fan of shipping charges being added onto orders??)
ANACONDA - ADVENTURE CLUB
Benefits: $10 off voucher upon joining.
Reward Program: N/A
This looks to be the leanest out of the three club memberships when it comes to the benefits on offer. Despite membership being free, the only immediate tangible benefit is that you'll be issued with a $10 off voucher when signing up to become an Adventure Club member.
Going forward, you will also be given access to member-only sales although I couldn't find any specifics, however, as to their frequency or what sort of products they tend to centre around. Other perks include invitations to Adventure Club nights and events, as well as entry into exclusive member only competitions.
While not necessarily a benefit for members only, one plus point of shopping at Anaconda is that they have a "Lowest Price Guarantee" where they promise to beat any price by 10% if you can prove that the same product is being sold for cheaper elsewhere (as long as you have the correct documentation to hand, that is).
In terms of shipping, they've opted for a variable rate on delivery costs so these amounts will differ depending on what type or size of item is in your online shopping cart.
Ultimately, although Katmandu is the only membership which carries a joining fee, I feel that it's low enough to avoid being any significant barrier for new customers. Also, their membership appears to offer the widest range of year round benefits thus making it the most enticing option overall in my opinion.
Of course your choice of membership may also come down largely to your preference in clothing as well as the price points offered by all three of these retailers. However, given the level of discounting that's been taking place recently in Kathmandu's "up to 70% off" sale, enough bargains have appeared on Buckscoop to indicate that there are times during the year when Kathmandu clothing can be considered good value.
Being a Summit Club member also gives you the advantage of requiring far less patience and timing on when to buy compared to regular customers. That's because non-members will need to spend a lot longer waiting around until sales reach the 60-70% off levels before being able to swoop in to get a really good deal (which historically only happens once or maybe twice a year). Meanwhile, club members will be able to dip in and out multiple times a year making use of their always-active 10% and 20% off discount entitlements, not to mention when any particularly good Summit Club exclusive offers pop up from time to time as well.