By Paul Sherratt of Solutions for Sport
For many sports retailers, selling to local teams and clubs is a critical element of their overall revenues.
Historically, retailers have used traditional methods to connect with and service these clients. However, technological advances are now enabling them to service teams and clubs more effectively, efficiently and, importantly, are opening up incremental business opportunities.
Perhaps the most powerful advance is the ability to drive teamwear business through online team shops. Once the preserve of large professional clubs, affordable software has now enabled sports retailers to build and run online shops for even the smallest of clubs.
Crucially, an online environment allows a retailer to offer a much wider range of club products, but without additional stock investment. Retailers are offering team kit alongside training wear, bags, caps, scarves, mugs, pens and anything else you would find in the club shop of a professional team. Images are mocked up or single samples purchased featuring club logos, badges etc and presented with the relevant lead times.
The click and collect trend has added an additional element to the club shop proposition, as it allows the customer to collect their order in-store. Experience with our own clients in this space shows that this acts as both an additional business driver, as well as helping to establish a deeper connection between club members and the partner retailer. Typically, club members order their kit online and visit the store to collect the order. While in-store, additional purchases are often made, bringing incremental sales.
Technological advances have also changed the way in which businesses can connect and prospect.
Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have created a perfect environment within which independent sports retailers can connect with their prospective club/team audience and drive them directly to the online club shop. This can be particularly relevant and useful for teamwear dealers, as they can begin to connect with those clubs that themselves are active on social media.
Begin to follow and comment on your local clubs’ activities and pretty soon you will build a database of likes and follows, which can be used to market your teamwear services. Furthermore, if you are already running and managing an online club shop, social media can be used to drive special offers and calls to action directly back into the shop.
The principles involved in building, running and operating an online club shop can also be applied to developing school shop strategies.
Many parents are now requesting that school uniform be available online. If you can offer such a service, it can counter the threat from the national companies providing this, as well as giving an improved local supply offer - the choice to either purchase online or locally is a powerful element in the decision making process for many schools considering their schoolwear supply partner.
As already discussed, click and collect can bring in additional business. The school uniform has been purchased and thus parents have more time to focus on the additional sportswear required. The clever retailer can package these lines within the school shop should they wish to or incentivise those purchasing schoolwear online with an additional money off voucher or offer once they visit the store for collection.
A targeted ecommerce team or school shop strategy can be a welcome business driver for the independent retailer who is looking to enhance their proposition. The set-up and running costs are not prohibitive - many software providers offer a monthly fee that can cover anything from a basic website and hosting service through to a full service offering of product uploads, maintenance, email database marketing and social media strategy.
When pitching for local club teamwear or school business, the retailer who can offer an online club shop is more likely to win the business over the retailer who is unable to provide this same service.
Society is looking for convenience in all areas of life and members of sports clubs and teams, where kit is a required purchase, are no different. The experience of our own clients underlines this shift in consumer demand and those retailers at the forefront of offering these services can develop interesting new business opportunities.