Fit Moves To Sell Direct + Big Corporations Love It
Now Fitbit whose products are a hot seller at mass retailers such as JB Hi Fi, Harvey Norman and Dick Smith are moving to sell product direct to big Companies.
The US company says it’s taking on 20 new employer customers in the third quarter, some of whom are buying Fitbit’s activity trackers in bulk to give out to employees while others set up special websites that allow their staff to buy them at a big discount, with the employer making up the costs.
Barclays will be offering Fitbit trackers to more than 75,000 of its employees through a cost-sharing plan, before rolling it out to its global workforce of 140,000, Fitbit said.
Last month Target said it was offering free and subsidized devices to its more than 330,000 employees globally, having bought a large number of devices in bulk.
“Barclays’ administrative and human resources team don’t have to take on the legwork of distribution,” says Ben Sommers, who runs business development for Fitbit’s corporate wellness division. “Fitbit will ship that device directly from our warehousing facility to the destination of choice.”
Fitbit has spent the last five years building up its wellness division, in which it sells its devices in bulk to employers. The division makes up less than 10% of Fitbit’s overall revenues, the company says, but is one of the fastest growing parts of the business.
It’s not known how this will affect retail sales in Australia.
Some of Fitbit’s employer customers have even set up sleep competitions for their staff, says Amy McDonough, who runs Fitbit’s wellness business. She points to a 2011 Harvard Medical School-led study that showed insomnia cost 11.3 days or $2,280 in productivity for the average worker.
“We share sleep data, but only in aggregate,” McDonough adds.
Employers who buy from Fitbit have the option of tracking their staff right down to the individual level, if staff agree to share their data, or just in aggregate. In other words, they can choose to see how many steps Bob in accounting is taking each week, or just how active the seven people in accounting are.
Tracking individuals might have the creepy overtones of surveillance, but Fitbit says such systems make it possible for employers to reward different members of staff based on how active they’ve been.
Oil giant BP, for instance, tracks the step counts of individual staff members to determine if each is eligible for a lower health care premium the following year. The more steps they take, the less they have to pay for health care.
McDonough would not break down how often clients were choosing to track individual employees, but says that metrics like sleep and weight were not available to companies even if they’d opted for individual monitoring.
Typically employers find that a large number of their staff will opt into programs that offer a tracker, McDonough says. “We’ve seen programs with upwards of 80 to 90% engagement.” This suggests Fitbit could sell thousands more discounted trackers with its new slate of large employer customers like Barclays.
To date Fitbit has claimed around 50 of the 500 biggest companies in the USA as corporate clients.
Fitbit CEO James Park has said the corporate wellness business is expected to be worth $11 billion by 2019.