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Golf balls get their own site at Rock Bottom Golf

When is it time for an established e-commerce site to launch a separate sub-category microsite? When it frees up the merchant to profitably expand free shipping offers, frees up more space for detailed product content and elevates the merchant’s listings in searches for sub-category products.

That’s the thinking at, No. 300 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. which this month launched The site is on a Yahoo storefront, like Rockbottom’s main site, and it uses the same back-end technology. Co-founder and chief operating and marketing officer Todd Rath says the dimensions of a pack of a dozen golf balls, which are packaged in small, uniformly sized boxes, allow to advertise and deliver free shipping on any order over $99.

Free shipping is a marketing edge for any online merchant, but it’s something Rath doesn’t offer widely on the main site, due to the varying sizes and shapes of all the products in the broader assortment. A single order could require several boxes to transport products of different sizes and incur multiple shipping charges, he says.

“As shipping costs go up, every day every retailer in the country is trying to figure out how to pack more things into the same box,” he adds. “The big thing we went after is that we wanted to be able to sell products on this site that will fit in the same box.” Items on which the site cross-sells shoppers – gloves, for example -- are also small and will fit into a box with golf balls.

The golf ball-dedicated microsite also stands to move higher in natural rankings under searches for golf balls than the main site with its broader assortment, Rath believes. It offers expanded content on golf ball product features that will boost its relevancy to search engines. “Over time, as we add information and data and customer reviews, Google will grab onto it as the number one golf ball site,” he adds.

Rath says the new site was promoted to Rockbottom Golf’s subscriber list of 200,000 in e-mail newsletters containing widgets linking to a specially created landing page on that explained the new site and offered the opportunity to link to it. “We didn’t want to send people directly to a new site. We wanted to put them first on a landing page that explained what the new site was about, then they can click from there,” he says.