For many sports retailers, selling to local teams/clubs is a critical element of their overall revenues.
Historically these retailers have used traditional methods to connect with, and service, clubs however technological advances are now enabling them to service these clubs more effectively, more 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 the large professional clubs, affordable software has now enabled sports retailers to build and run online club shops for even the smallest of sports clubs.
Sports retailers offering these services are winning business against those that are unable to by providing this additional service element.
Crucially an online environment allows the retailer to offer a much wider range of club products but without additional stock investment.
Retailers are offering team kit (shirt, short and sock – home and away) alongside training wear, bags, caps, scarves, mugs, pens and anything else that you would find in the club shop of a professional team.
Images are mocked up (or single samples purchased) with club logos, badges etc and presented with the relevant lead times associated with sourcing such lines.
With this approach club members can visit a unique team shop created for them by the retailer and purchase their club lines conveniently.
This ecommerce strategy is not open to the same issues affecting a more generalised ecommerce approach (pricing etc) and allows the sports retail to enhance his current proposition.
Click and collect
The “click and collect” trend has added an additional element to the club shop proposition as it now allows the retailer to offer, within their club shop, the choice to collect their order in store.
Experience with our own clients in this space shows that this acts 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 come to store to collect the order. Whilst in store additional purchases (boots, shin guards, mouth guards etc) 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 club activities and pretty soon you will begin to build a database of likes and follows which can then be used to market your teamwear services to.
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.
Interestingly 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 there school uniform be available online and, if you can offer this service to your local schools, this can both counter the threat from the national companies providing this sort of service as well as providing 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 school wear supply partner.
An interesting retailer advantage running an online school shop is improved cash flow. School wear purchases can be spread across a longer period, rather then, as is often the case, a small window just before the start of term – this enables the retailer to bring in schoolwear lines across a longer period by “back to back/just in time” ordering thus helping cash flow.
As already discussed click and collect can also bring in additional business – the school uniform has been purchased and thus the parent has more time to focus on the additional sports wear required such as boots, shinguards, mouth guards etc etc.
The clever retailer can package these lines online within the school shop should they wish to or incentivise those purchasing school wear online early with an additional money off voucher or incentive once they visit the store for collection.
There is no doubt then that a targeted ecommerce team or school shop strategy can be a welcome business driver and business winner for the independent retailer who is looking to enhance their business 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, social media strategy and more.
Without doubt 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 against the traditional retailer who is unable to provide this same service.
Society is looking for convenience in all areas of life and sports clubs/teams where kit is a required purchase is 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 certainly develop an interesting new business opportunity.