Retailing: Retail Appeal
In a multi-channel retail world, how do you stand out from the rest of the crowd? Three tennis retailers serve up strategies.
Your Serve Tennis: Face-to-Face Interactions
Your Serve’s eight stores in the Atlanta area have been fueling the hot Atlanta tennis market for over 35 years.
Owner Adam Queen echoes the importance of visual displays, mannequins, using bright colors and displaying what the top players are wearing to draw people in. Cross-merchandising is done with shoes and accessories to coordinate looks. Displays are rotated weekly to keep things looking fresh and new. “This way,” says Queen, “we get to highlight new product, looks, themes and include things like racquet bags in the mix.”
Women buy more clothing than men and half the men’s clothing is purchased by women, so knowing your customer is vital for determining the product mix.
Your Serve’s exposure in its local markets comes not so much from social media as it does from face-to-face interactions and with sponsorships and charity events. At Your Serve, employees are long-term, which lends itself to a very personal level of service. But nothing is taken for granted — sales personnel receive continual training, which emphasizes product knowledge and the practical application of product technology.
Stringing is integral to the business, and the stores offer one-hour stringing. They also offer demos in every racquet. “This is why there will always be a place for brick-and-mortar stores,” says Queen. “People like seeing and handling the product first-hand, and they love the personal service.’
He keeps a uniform look with unique store signage that highlights new arrivals, basics and a consistent message. Moreover, Your Serve creates a pleasant environment and makes customers feel welcome the minute they walk in.
Your Serve Tennis’ Bottom Line:
- Make sure displays are attractive and fresh, bringing attention to certain groups that you want to promote.
- Create a pleasant environment and make customers feel welcome.
- Cross-merchandise by adding accessories and shoes to displays.
- Know your demographic.
- Offer competitive pricing.
NYC Racquet Sports: Let the Merchandise Speak for Itself
The New York City-based NYC Racquet Sports stores, owned by Joan Dziena and Woody Schneider, have been receiving rave reviews from customers for a long time. There are three Manhattan locations, along with a store at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows (home of the US Open).
Dziena uses two- and four-way fixtures to showcase merchandise and tell a story. Visual merchandising really comes into play, and with New York being such a fashion-conscious city, Dziena buys clothing with the intent of telling a story on the floor. Blacks and whites are coordinated and pops of color complement the theme and jazz up the floor.
Instead of going narrow and deep within one manufacturer, NY Racquet Sports has a varied selection. Otherwise, says Dziena, “The look starts to become redundant.”
Unlike many tennis shops, Dziena’s midtown locations are male-driven and athlete-driven. “They want to buy anything Rafa, Djokovic or Roger-related,” she says. While the shops are busy year-round, business is especially hectic in August — as the US Open nears — and they maintain a busy demo program.
But at the shop at the National Tennis Center, there are more female shoppers, and since women seek out bargains, there are several clearance items. The business is also tourist-driven and customer profiles vary widely. Additionally, they do a huge kids’ business; manufacturers, Dziena notes, are responding by making more children’s (and toddlers’) apparel and shoes.
Dziena uses Facebook to augment her brand and connect with people and USTA members get discounts on many items. Email blasts are sent out to thousands of customers with updates on new racquet/product launches and stringing specials. Stringing comprises a large part of the business and emphasizes same-day or next-day service. All the staff plays tennis and is extremely well-versed on product lines.
At the Seventh Avenue location, three giant racquets sit on the front window ledge and shoppers can see through them to the two-story space and an impressive array of products. Dziena doesn’t really believe in store signage. “People don’t read them,” she says. “I let the merchandise and visualization speak for itself.”
NYC Racquet Sports’ Bottom Line:
- Have a broad selection of merchandise.
- Employ knowledgeable sales personnel who are well-versed in all categories — especially important for the novice player who needs to be walked through the process.
- Establish relationships with customers, encouraging “face time.”
- Have a neat, well-designed shopping environment that’s visually exciting.
PGA Tour Superstore: Keep a Fresh Look
PGA Tour Superstore caters to both the golf and tennis markets. Based in Georgia, with other locations in South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, California, New Jersey, Florida and Colorado, the chain is no stranger to success. The 16th store will open this fall in California.
One of the many appealing aspects of PGA Tour Superstores is that several store locations have their own full-size court. Another plus is the regular change of displays and layout, making the space look fresh. Says company buyer Bobby Pearson, “By creating the right flow and presentation, and partnering with the vendor community, we take merchandising to a whole other level.”
Fashion groups arrive about every 30 days, encouraging new looks. Brands are grouped together, making it easy for shoppers to find their favorite lines. And displays tell a story within fashion groups by cross-merchandising accessories.
The Wilson wall of racquets is part of the vendor contribution to a layout that beckons the shopper. An innovative shoe display in the Paramus, N.J., store is inviting and easy to navigate. PGA uses vendor and store signage and does their own branding with lifestyle shots and store programs.
Each PGA store has its own Facebook page, and the company has been revamping the website to enhance the tennis presence. They also send out weekly e-blasts offering different specials and promotions for members of its loyalty program, The Players’ Club. The program’s fee entitles members to get half off stringing, court rentals and provides lots of other perks. A large percentage of PGA’s clientele are members. “They see it as their own club and they want people to feel like they’re part of something and provide highly targeted programs that are different than what’s offered to the public,” Pearson says.
Stringing is a large part of their tennis business and each store is a USRSA member, employing several Master Racquet Technicians. They have an active racquet demo program, too. Of course, access to an in-store court makes playtesting easy.
PGA makes sure its staff has a solid background in tennis and is specifically trained for each store. Providing great customer service sets them apart from their online competitors.
PGA Tour Superstore’s Bottom Line
- The right product mix, displays and floor plan needs to “wow” the customer.
- Showcase the top products and maintain the highest merchandising standards.
- Have qualified staff on hand to answer any questions.
- Get the newest products out as soon as they’re launched.
- Encourage loyalty by making customers see the store as their “personal club and shop.”
See all articles by Cynthia Sherman
About the Author
Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.