Although all retailers are feeling pressure to up their games to stay competitive and profitable, sporting goods stores may be facing some of today’s biggest challenges. Their wholesalers and suppliers are competing with them by selling online, and their customers are demanding more specialized products. And with the recent closings of Sports Authority and Sports Chalet locations — as well as a half-dozen or so sporting goods stores filing for bankruptcy over the past few years — there is concern about the future of the industry.
Using retail technology strategically can help you navigate these challenges. You can deliver the merchandise customers want, personalized customer experiences, and control costs by leveraging your sporting goods point of sale (POS) system.
Tackle Diverse Inventory
Sporting goods stores face the challenge of carrying a wide range of products. There is merchandise for team sports (e.g., football, hockey, softball, bowling, swimming), individual sports (golf, tennis, skating), and outdoor sports (hunting, fishing, boating, camping), as well as fitness and exercise equipment and accessories (from barbells to bike helmets and even energy bars). Apparel and footwear add an array of colors and sizes to the mix.
Customers expect specialty shops, such as ski pro shops, to have a deep selection of related items. Sporting goods stores are also testing the waters with lines that appeal to new customers such as “athleisure” clothing that appeals to women’s exercise and active lifestyle needs.
The inventory module of sporting goods POS systems allows you to make sure stock in all categories is available. You can also use this tool to collect data and produce reports that show your best selling items, product types, and brands. Use these insights, not “gut feelings” to make data-based decisions that can help control costs and minimize obsolete inventory.
Evaluate Individual Players
Sales reports from your store’s sporting goods POS can tell you more than how many football jerseys sold in December. It can also tell you the players’ names on the jerseys. Many items in your store’s inventory are similar but need to be accounted for separately to ensure you have the right sizes, colors, and calibers, as well as the team and player merchandise that your customers are looking for.
If your store helps outfit local teams, sporting goods POS can help track sizes, jersey numbers, and equipment for each player, making it easy for you to personalize the customer experience that team managers and members receive.
Members of teams aren’t the only customers that want personalized service — all of your customers are expecting the type of personalization they are used to receiving when they shop online. Your sporting goods POS can provide sales associates with customer history that they can use to engage shoppers and to cross-sell and upsell based on past purchases. You can also use these insights to make offers sent through email or text message relevant to the shopper — and enable offers to be stored on smartphones so customers don’t have to remember to bring a paper coupon to the store.
Put BOPIS in the Game
Your online competition may be tough, but your brick-and-mortar store can offer things online retailers can’t — like opportunities to try on swimwear, look through a rifle scope, or swing a golf club. Your customers who enjoy browsing online may respond to an offering that allows them to reserve items online and collect them in-store or buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). Use sporting goods POS to use inventory data across channels with ecommerce and store systems to deliver what customers want, giving them the best of all omnichannel worlds.
The Wow Factor
Retail technology also gives you the ability to add digital signage, interactive displays and kiosks, and even virtual reality demonstrations. Using sporting goods POS as your command center, you can provide experiences that will delight your customers.
Although the retail sporting goods industry is evolving, your business can survive and thrive. Your sporting goods POS system will provide data that helps your make fact-based decisions to personalize customer experiences and that will give you the tools to effectively manage your business and control costs, giving you what you need to compete and win!