Tennis Industry magazine

 

Selling Racquets: Merchandise with a Purpose!

Displaying your racquets by power level makes it easier for your customers to buy the right frame.

By Bob Patterson

Merchandising is an important part of every department in your shop. Generally, though, when it comes to displays, presentation and promotion, racquets just don’t get the same level of attention that apparel and shoes do. That should change.

Racquets are easy to display and present in your shop. They can hang from a peg or waterfall fixture on slatwall or pegboard and take up little floor space. Most of the time, retailers group racquets by brand, and then segment them by price, head size or other criteria. While this method allows customers to see your selection of frames, it does little to inform and educate players, which should always be a part of merchandising.

Your display needs to draw the customer’s attention — and then once they are engaged, it should help them understand what they are seeing. Displaying racquets by brand showcases the manufacturers you carry and the variety of the selection from each manufacturer, but that’s about it. In fact, if you display racquets by brand, and carry five brands, then racquets that have similar playing characteristics will end up being displayed far apart from each other.

Fitting Racquets to Players

Ideally, you should be “fitting” your customers with the right racquet for their particular needs and style of play. It’s easier to find the right frame for a player when you merchandise racquets by power level instead of brand, since similar racquets will be placed near each other on the display wall, even if they’re from different manufacturers.

As you talk to your customers about their game, expectations and style of play, you can move to the appropriate section of your racquet wall. For instance, if through your racquet interview you determine your client is more likely a game-improvement frame candidate, you can take him or her to the area of the store where the game-improvement frames are located. It then becomes easier to explain the different manufacturer technologies used to create the models that fit a particular playing style.

Once a customer chooses a racquet to demo, the display also makes it easier for them to understand how that frame compares with nearby frames on your wall. For instance, if more powerful racquets are on the left side of your display, and less powerful racquets on the right, a customer can move along the wall according to their demo experience. Once they’ve honed in on their power level, you can explain more subtle differences in the frames, to best fit their needs.

Displaying racquets by power level rather than brand may require some explanation to customers, but that is exactly what you are after. Even customers who are “just looking” will take notice when you explain how the racquets are arranged. Your customers will think, Maybe I should be fitted — and will hopefully seek out your help in doing so. But even if they choose to go it on their own, you’ve made choosing a racquet an easy and logical experience.

If you choose another method of arranging your racquet wall, other than by power level, it should at least have some reasoning and order to it. Shawn Arnette, a Master Racquet Technician and the owner of Courtcraft Tennis in the Atlanta area, groups his racquets by brand, then by model and line. The manufacturer’s header card is removed to make room for a custom sign that Arnette creates for each model with all the specs and information listed prominently. It’s a personal touch that will resonate with customers and set your shop apart.

Other Considerations

An intelligent display isn’t the only thing to consider when merchandising your racquets:

Lighting: Good lighting makes every racquet look better. Track lights are generally inexpensive and can wash the racquet wall with brightness without being too harsh, focusing the light on the merchandise and not into customers’ eyes.

Signage: You may not be grouping your racquets by brand, but you still do want to draw attention to the brands you stock. You should prominently display manufacturer logos on your racquet wall. Use promotional materials from manufacturers, such as player posters, to add variety and draw further attention.

You should also consider investing in custom signage to draw attention to your wall arrangement. A graduating arrow running the length of your display with the word “Power” will help reinforce your message. You should also display the specs of each frame. “We find that having all the specs there on each model not only helps the customers compare,” says Arnette, “but it also helps our staff provide accurate information without having to look it up or trying to memorize it.”

USRSA members can use tools on RacquetTech.com to get power level formula, weight, swing weight, flex and other racquet specs.

Demo Program: Giving customers the ability to test racquets is vital to selling them. Don’t assume your customers will know that you offer a demo program, so make sure it is visible with signage on your display.

With logical merchandising for your racquets, your customers will not only find the right frames for their games, but also know why that racquet works for them.

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About the Author

Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Executive Director for the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.

 

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