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The Future of Golf Retail



Is brick and mortar retail dead?

This is a topic of discussion among many of our clients (You can see our opinion in the headline). Let’s talk about what’s going on. First, we can all agree golf is seeing a decline in participation and interest in the sport. It’s not the demise of the golf industry, but it does, however, require golf businesses to rethink how to market. Brick and mortar sales are declining as concrete retail no longer serves as the holy grail of the golf business. At the same time, big names like Nike and adidas are exiting golf retail.

Golf customers are simply seeking a different experience than what concrete retail provides—more options, greater convenience and better accessibility.

E-commerce offers these solutions, and, it’s having an impact—the market saw a 17% increase in sales through e-commerce channels. This provides retailers with the opportunity to shift their approach to e-commerce for future success.

What is e-commerce?

To put it simply, e-commerce is buying or selling products or services via online channels. It employs a direct to consumer sales approach where golf products and services are sold directly to golf customers, as opposed to the traditional retail approach which involves the utilization of retail stores to sell your golf product.

Why does your golf business need e-commerce?

This is where your golf customers are at. Consider this—more than 40 percent of Internet users, we’re talking around 1 billion, have purchased goods online. A new study published by the Pew Research Center found that nearly 80 percent of Americans do at least some shopping on the internet, with 43 percent shopping online "weekly" or "a few times a month." The e-commerce model drives customers to your site to take action, converts prospects into customers, and maximizes the purchase value. Some of the advantages of e-commerce for your golf business include:

  • Convenience—your online store is open and available 24/7, 365 days a year

  • Timeliness—new products can be added immediately

  • Selection—the amount of products you can offer online is greater than what can be offered in a brick and mortar store.

  • Cost savings—eliminates markups and savings are passed on to customers.

  • Control—you control the messages of your golf brand and markdowns on your product.

  • Trackable—understand where your customers are coming from and keep the conversation going after they’ve left your site.

  • Integration—online and offline retail efforts together provide an “omnichannel” marketing experience.

How golf customers shop

To better understand the transition away from traditional retail, it’s helpful to understand how your customers are shopping today.

  • Golfers spend a significant portion of time researching products online before making a purchase decision.

  • This is an opportunity to capture prospective customers online before they go in-store.

  • Online reviews drive the customer purchase process, as 92% of online shoppers read reviews, and 88% make a purchase decision based on these reviews.

  • These serve as valuable assets in your promotion and marketing efforts.

  • Prices are checked online before in-store purchase. In fact, “65% of Americans indicate that when they need to make purchases they typically compare the price they can get in stores with the price they can get online and choose whichever option is cheapest.”

  • Ensure your prices are industry-competitive, offer free shipping or an additional web-only offer.

  • While target audiences enjoy the in-store experience, prospective customers utilize retail space to showroom (see and touch product) then ultimately purchase online.

  • Provide opportunities for your customers to experience your product online through images and video that show your golf product in context.

  • Most customers webroom (research online) then make their purchases offline.

  • Give them a reason to stay on your site and complete the purchase process with special incentives or other web-only offers.