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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.

E-commerce trends

The keys to maximizing your e-commerce success all have two things in common—relevancy and value. Below you can find four e-commerce trends that incorporate these goals.

  • Content Marketing. It’s not just information that you get in your in-box every day or a salesy pitch of your golf product—content marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain your audience with the goal of driving profitable customer action. It drives sales, improves retention, and provides golf businesses with cost savings. It could be a blog, video, vlog, or special offer content that is directly related to your customers wants and needs.

  • Mobile. This is how your customers are finding you. Over 77% of the U.S. population own a smart phone, and more than 31MM access the internet via a mobile device. It’s so much more than a web site that’s accessed online. You need a mobile-dedicated site that is easily accessible and provides a seamless purchase process for those on the go. Google indicates that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. Don’t be that golf company.

  • Customer Experience. We speak often about customer experience—this means so much more than just good customer service. Customer experience is how you meet a customer’s needs on an emotional, physical, and sensory level. It’s about providing an experience online that is relevant, repeated, remembered, and shared, from before your prospective customers even hit your site to the completion of the purchase process and beyond. It’s how they find you indirectly—are you meeting a need—to the direct follow up process after the sale—it’s the interactions throughout your relationships with your customers.

  • Product Reviews. As noted above, product reviews play a significant role in the consumer purchase process. Provide opportunities for your golf business to collect this valuable feedback—from product satisfaction to the overall customer experience. Include these reviews on your site to help guide customer decisions, and serve as a voice for your golf company. Consider these statistics:

  • 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.

  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews.

  • Site visitors who interact with both reviews and customer questions and answers are 105% more likely to purchase while visiting.

  • Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than descriptions that come from manufacturers, per a survey of US internet users by online video review site EXPO.

What’s your opinion on the future of golf retail? We’d love to hear your feedback.


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