Retailer’s Bill of Rights
A longtime tennis shop owner says there must be changes in the way retailers are treated in this industry.
By Tony Taverna, with contributions from tennis specialty retailers Jim Donnelly and Chris Gaudreau
Brick-and-mortar tennis shops are the lifeblood of the tennis industry and at the forefront of educating consumers, supporting local towns and businesses, and growing grassroots tennis initiatives. Any growth in tennis participation will be short-lived if tennis specialty retailers do not flourish.
As industry leaders, protectors and promoters, we should have certain basic and absolute rights, which serve to protect and help the entire industry to prosper. These rights make up the “Tennis Specialty Bill of Rights.”
- Right to have all premium products on a Minimum Advertised Pricing policy.
- MAP pricing should reflect appropriate retail margins and should not be lowered for at least 24 months, and after that not lowered by more than 15%. All premium products should remain on MAP to allow sufficient time for sell-through.
- Offering free goods of any kind, including strings, would be a violation of MAP.
- Any decrease in MAP should be reflected in Authorized Dealer pricing.
- Quoting prices over the phone below MAP would be a violation of the MAP policy. Manufacturers need to periodically check to make sure this is not happening.
- Cosmetic changes, such as a color change, should not be considered a model change.
- Right to exclusive Tennis Specialty Pricing. Specialty dealers have the highest overhead while providing the best direct service and customer satisfaction. Brick-and-mortar shops should be given pricing from manufacturers that reflect this imbalance.
- Right to book and receive product at least 60 days before online dealers and distributors.
- Sufficient product should always be allocated to all Authorized Dealers. Booking deadlines must be clearly defined and not compromised.
- Adequate inventory should be available for tennis specialty to fill-in. Manufacturers should monitor, and restrict if necessary, the buys of online retailers and distributors to ensure this throughout the product life.
- Right to purchase discontinued items for 90 days before being offered to online dealers.
- Liquidated items would continue to be bound by MAP terms.
- Every effort should be made to avoid producing more SKUs then the industry can support. Fewer SKUs and longer life cycles will help rejuvenate tennis specialty and the industry.
- Right to have a clear separation of all premium tennis categories from big-box and sporting goods stores. Elite-level tennis footwear, apparel, racquets, accessories, string, bags and balls should not be found at big-box or sporting goods stores. Moreover, once premium product is discontinued, that product should not be remade and resold in any way.
- Right to a minimum 20-mile radius between Authorized Dealers and distributor accounts. (In densely populated areas, the minimum radius should be 10 miles.)
- All distributor accounts should be approved by each company’s area representative.
- All distributors should produce a comprehensive list of accounts for area rep to review.
- All current distributor accounts that are too close to an Authorized Dealer should be closed.
- No person, club, school, pro-shop, regardless of any professional affiliation, should receive product from a distributor unless approved by that company’s area rep.
- Right to have manufacturers drive all business to nearest Tennis Specialty dealer.
- All business, including schools, colleges, clubs, and pros within a dealer’s territory, shall be forwarded to that dealer.
- Right to be protected from manufacturer-direct sales. Manufacturers should not sell direct to consumers. Manufacturers currently selling direct should not offer discounts and should immediately begin transitioning sales to the nearest Authorized Dealer. Manufacturer websites should stimulate and forward interest to Authorized Dealers. Information on manufacturers’ sites should never encourage consumers to do something on their own that would normally be done in the tennis shop, such as stringing, gripping, fitting, etc.
- Right to have a dedicated premium product line for Tennis Specialty distribution only. Product line (from each manufacturer) should include at a minimum, but not be limited to: 4 racquet models, 2 footwear models, 3 string SKUs, 2 replacement grip SKUs, 2 overgrip SKUs, 3 bag SKUs, 1 ball SKU.
- Right to be consulted before any advertised consumer discounting. Discounts include but aren’t limited to promotions (whether online or other), coupons, coupon codes, direct sales discounts. All discounts should be approved by Authorized Dealers. Online discounting of any premium product is not acceptable at any time.
Are your retail rights being violated? Would you like to see a change for the better? Would you like to see a Tennis Retailer Association? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See all articles by Tony Taverna