Sporting goods occupy a unique spot in the custom retail market. Whereas many other products are either purchased as is or seeing a resurgence in customization, sports equipment and sportswear have been tinkered with by athletes, coaches, and trainers for the past several decades. This customization can range from simple logos and team colors all the way through to structural changes designed to optimize an athlete’s performance.
Another vector of improvement in the realm of sporting goods is, of course, technology. New materials, manufacturing processes, and advanced design are constantly pushing products to greater heights, as everyone from professional athletes to enthusiastic amateurs to youth players with dreams of success look to get any edge they can over the competition. While there’s no substitute for rigorous training and top-notch instruction, proper equipment that is suited to the individual using it can provide every advantage to overcome performance plateaus and push themselves even further.
This puts sporting goods stores in a unique position. While much of their inventory is devoted to fashion, outdoor activities like camping, and backyard fun, there also catering to a healthy market of enthusiastic hobbyists and local league participants as well as diehard fans looking to score the latest merch for their beloved teams. They have a diverse clientele to service, and while the same kinds of innovations that help drive sales and streamline operations in other sectors of the market apply to this one, there’s also new opportunities for retailers to offer new and better services and products to their customers.
Custom Retail and Experiences in Golf
Golf is a notoriously tricky game, in addition to prime physical conditioning players also need to execute arguably the most complicated single motion in sports: the swing. It’s also one where custom retail can make a particularly significant impact, as each player has 14 clubs and usually about 6 (or more) balls in their bag, all of which can have a massive impact on the efficacy of the golfer’s attempts. Because of this, golfers are infamously picky about their equipment, from clubs and balls all the way to shoes and shirts. It all adds up, making it a lucrative market for retailers to invest in.
Retailers such as Golf Galaxy offer fully customized fittings, allowing each customer to have their own set of clubs tailor made to their swings. These fittings take advantage of a gadget known as a launch monitor, which tracks ball speed, swing speed, and takeoff angle then feeds the data to the tech. They can then make adjustments and recommendations to the customer and thereby put together a set of clubs that better suits their game. It’s a good lesson that can apply elsewhere: clubs are expensive, and offering a value-added customization service to a big-ticket item can ease the minds of shoppers and lead to happier customers.
Speaking of lessons, Golf Galaxy offers those as well. Advanced computer-based learning is offered at these locations which can help students unravel the mysteries of their own swing, while highly-trained professionals offer instruction. It’s not just raw information, but data made useful through context and the human element. Customers can learn in the same place they go to shop, which in turn drives foot traffic and repeat business. Developing a good relationship on several fronts with a customer base is a great way to keep shoppers coming back again and again. Golf Galaxy is a prime example of how custom retail extends not only to merchandise but to experiences tailor made for consumers.
Your Team, Your Way
Jerseys are one of the most ubiquitous symbols of sports culture. Team insignias create a sense of pride and camaraderie on the field, while also offering organizations strong branding opportunities and chances to sell all kinds of merchandise. Many fans love to wear clothes emblazoned with the logos of their favorite teams, not only at the pro level but all the way down to high school and even youth levels.
Many retailers, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, in addition to providing garment printing services for teams, offer the chance for fans to customize their own jerseys and t-shirts, allowing customers to create a unique product with their own name and number on the back. Meanwhile, brands like Brooks are building fully custom athletic shoes that go beyond even Nike and Adidas to bring the best possible footwear to market. Retailers would be wise to keep an eye on trends like these and find new ways to bring the world of custom retail into their stores.
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