Tennis Specialty Retail Tips: Competing in Today’s Marketplace
Tennis specialty retailers and pro shops are no different than other small to mid-size retailers — all have been affected by the intense competition in today’s marketplace. But some of the most successful tennis retailers today have been able to utilize a retail strategy that integrates their store’s merchandising and marketing with their website and use of social media.
One thing is certain: The Internet, social media and online retailing are not going away, and their importance to American consumers will increase. But make no mistake: Having an effective online strategy doesn’t need to be about selling products online.
How do tennis specialty retailers compete in today’s business environment? Here are some ideas that can help your tennis business:
Educate your customers: When someone comes into your store to buy, it’s an opportunity for you and your staff to make sure they know all about the products and services you offer, including new technologies that make their game better and more enjoyable. Take advantage of all the opportunities you have from manufacturers and their sales reps to know more about the products you sell. Also, you have the opportunity to influence how much tennis people play — tell them about the 10 and Under Tennis initiative for their kids, direct them to teaching pros for lessons, clinics and programs, and let them know about facilities in the area offering social and competitive programs.
In-store merchandising is critical: Consumers like to see new products, changing displays, the feeling that the products they’re looking at are the latest on the market. Make sure your walls and displays play up the newest products and features, and are coordinated with what you feature on your website.
Sell the fact that you offer better, faster service to your customers: Stringing racquets is an obvious example — you can do it in one day or less. Customers can try on clothes and shoes and know instantly what fits and looks good. Same for demoing racquets. Play up the service angle to your customers.
Your store website IS your brand — keep it up to date and dynamic: Using the internet effectively isn’t all about selling product online: Consumers find information online — they may still like to buy in person, but they go to websites to get information: products, services, hours, location, directions and more. Today, surveys indicate that more than half of all consumers research products online before going to a store to purchase them. Make sure your website is easily searchable for consumers.
Use email for your marketing: TIA research shows that for all tennis retailers, the preferred marketing technique is email — which easily is complemented by other methods, such as newsletters, fliers and advertisements in local media.
Social media is an opportunity: It generates buzz and excitement for stores and products. Customers share their experiences — good or bad. More than 500 million individuals use Facebook, every minute more than 35 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube, and Twitter now sends more than 1 billion tweets per week. Social media platforms are not simply diversions — it’s where your current and potential customers interact and engage with others. You and your store need to be there, too. Many of the platforms have features that allow you to integrate them seamlessly with your own website.
Don’t forget smartphones: More and more browsing and shopping is done via apps. Don’t make things difficult for tech-savvy consumers — make sure your website has a version for smartphones. According to a Google smartphone study, 95% of users have looked for local information via their smartphone.
Coming Up: How POS systems can help your business.
This is the first in a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (gluskintownleygroup.com).