Omnia Fishing was born from the premise that anglers rely on data about the changing, complex relationships between the water body, fish species, technique, season and product attributes. Omnia has built the first scalable ecommerce platform to organize content and products to make shopping relevant based on all those details. The result is a unique shopping experience for every lake and an algorithm that learns based on a number of inputs to constantly get smarter. In building a shop-by-lake concept to sort through all the noise for an angler, Omnia has addressed the root cause that has prevented billions in annual online tackle purchases every year. This establishes a relationship directly with the consumer and reconnect them with the vendors that invest so much in creating great products for specific use cases.
Advanced anglers can use the Omnia platform to file fishing reports on lake pages for the lakes they fish and provide context to the brands they use. This engagement can be used to build their reputation in the fishing industry, get noticed by brands, and receive tackle credits for making useful suggestions. Novice anglers can use the lake specific shopping experience and fishing reports to see only relevant tackle products that will send them to the water more prepared and access instruction on how to use those products effectively.
Recently, we talked with Matt Johnson, CEO for Omnia Fishing, about the incredibly fast growth the company has been experiencing. Johnson has had an amazing career allowing him to fish all over the world. He and his founding partners are veterans of the fishing industry.
FTR: Can you tell us what the most recent round of fundraising, $2.1 million, is going to?
MJ: We’ll be using the funding to be nimble with our suppliers in the short term, but the bulk of the funding will be used to improve our user experience, marketing capabilities and innovation within the personalized shopping experience. We’ve also scaled the size of our warehouse, merchandising, customer support, and content marketing teams earlier than we had planned. We want to continue to impress our customers with a level of personalization and service even as we grow.
FTR: Let’s talk about eCommerce in fishing. The industry is catching up to the rest of the world in regards to eCommerce. Before, mom and pop tackle stores might not have an eStore. Now, at least based on our research, at least half of them do. How does Omnia fit into the tackle ecosystem as a whole?
MJ: We feel the industry still has a long way to go. Our main hypothesis was that buying tackle online was fragmented, complicated and confusing due to the complexities within the space, such as regional differences with lakes, species and seasonal conditions. We know consumers like assortment so creating balance is something we are trying to conquer.
We believe that by building a way to present products based on the unique details of a lake, species, or time of year we’re helping to simplify the online shopping experience. Our model was designed to replace the need to visit an uneducated or understaffed big box store where a majority of sales are taking place in-person. In addition to making product and technique recommendations, we’ve created videos that explain how to rig a product and strategies for success.
The entire digital experience appeals to the novice customer who wants help in selecting product and learning how to be a better angler. It’s a scalable solution for the long term. We are very committed to offering a large selection of products and keeping up with the trends. We currently stock all the products we suggest and have more than 10,000 unique SKUs in our warehouse.
FTR: One of your goals is to help independent retailers. How does Omnia help an independent dealer sell more tackle?
MJ: While we’re not able to service this part of our business now, we do think the long play is to use our technology to make independent retailers more sophisticated. The Omnia platform is built with tools to make product suggestions on tackle based on the lakes our customer fish. With the data we can make it easier for all anglers to see what’s working in real time and head to the water with more confidence.
In the future, we believe the data could be used to help to maximize digital marketing campaigns or to improve inventory planning strategies to increase value when working with key supplying partners. We hope to be the center of the experience for the customer even if the sale is occurring outside our platform.
FTR: What supply chains issues have you faced, if any, so far this year?
MJ: Ha, all of them. Our biggest challenges to date have been on the durable side of the business. We attempted to reduce the risk by dramatically increasing our orders within the off-season and worked with our suppliers to layer in orders further in advance to help with their demand planning and supply chains. By doing so we’ve tied up more cash but we’ve been able to make adjustments to our model accordingly.
FTR: What does the outlook look like for 2021?
MJ: Our limiting factor in growth is the supply chain at the moment. We’re currently on pace for about 400 percent growth from our 2020 numbers after more than 300 percent growth the year prior. We’ve become laser focused on active user content that feeds our algorithm for a better and more personalized shopping experience. Instead of filing product reviews, our knowledgeable customers file fishing reports on the lake they used the product. The goal is not to talk about locations but include details about what technique was working, the hot bait, photos or videos of a catch. These data inputs adjust the top recommended techniques and brands recommended to other customers.
FTR: What role can Omnia play in retaining some of the new anglers gained through one of the few silver linings of this pandemic?
MJ: This is probably the most important goal for us. Our model was built to help anglers who want suggestions for what they should buy. With the rapid growth of new customers entering the market and what we believe is the rapid decline of the big-box experience in store, we run the risk of sending a lot of new anglers out to the water without the tools they need to be successful. We hope our model of suggesting products and building content that educates them on what to try and why, will ensure more success and fun. The model is scalable in a digital form and we are able to service a national and rapidly growing consumer base with well organized content and suggestions.
In the past, the fishing community has dealt with a leaky bucket issue. We always add new participants but we lose some at the same time. We attribute this to access to good information and success on the water. If we can send anglers to the water prepared with the right products and information, we think there’s a better chance of keeping them around for future years.