Here, Crossover's Mark Hopkins, looks at some of the advantages golf shops have over standard bricks and mortar stores, plus what lessons we can learn from recent high street failures?
There was a collective sigh across the UK retail industry today, following the news of New Look's woes ... which arrived hot on the heels of Friday's shock House of Fraser announcement. Both household names, alongside the likes of M&S and Next - also facing similar problems.
It hurts to see them in trouble and makes you think that UK retail is dangling over some sort of precipice. But how does that reflect on the Golf Retail industry? What can we learn from it?
Don't panic. Most experts expect inflation to drop this year and wage growth to rise, and that this will ease the pressure of consumers' disposable income. This doesn’t mean they'll spend it with you – but we have to like where it’s going.
Despite the nightmare start, year to date Average Sales Price (ASP) in Golf Retail looks good, and On-course has already recovered compared to, what was, a strong year last year.
So, what do the experts from High street retail say we should do to improve? And, how does that compare with the On-course Golf Retail market?
1. Be more than a store
"Offer more than just retail". Well, to me, playing golf, and eating and drinking all count as NON-retail, so you just need to ensure you are making the most of that benefit. Ensure customers enjoy the 'whole experience' of visiting your course: making sure they feel welcome from the minute they arrive.
Colin Sinclair, Head PGA Pro from Carnoustie Links Golf, sees the bigger picture:
"As a team, our role is about hospitality: whether you're serving a golfer in the shop or in the bar, or welcoming that person to the course, everything we do is focused around the customer experience".
2. Try before you buy
Instant gratification is an ever-growing trend. Consumers don’t want to wait – they want it now and, if they can, they’ll pay later. Perhaps unwittingly, the golf industry has been leading the way on this, with demo clubs for years – just make sure you have yours in place, and that your customers know it!
3. Discover the value in your values
Consumers want clear messages and to buy from companies who share their values. It comes down to customer service, and the golf industry has huge advantages here, too. There are hundreds of potential customers for you to get to know, and who already know who you are. Do what you say you are going to do, and make the customer experience a memorable one.
4. Be aware of your costs
It’s a major benefit of the Click over Brick retailer – lower costs. House of Fraser is looking to drop its flagship store in London. It won’t be directly because the retail giant sells at lower prices, or because it doesn’t have the footfall. It will be because the overheads are huge in comparison to their pricing model. Although On-course golf retail does have a cost to it, (especially staffing), it simply doesn’t have the strain that these huge businesses have.
Don’t underestimate how much of a benefit that is.
Has that cheered you up? If not, why not see how not to do it with this interesting take on a UK Classic: WH Smith (https://life.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/wh-smith-become-national-embarrassment/) – so you can say at least I’m not as bad as that!
Stay focused, keep an eye on the numbers and make sure your customer service is the best it can be.
Crossover Technologies has been working with golf retailers for over 20 years. Reduce stock, improve margins and be a better retailer with XPOS, the leading sales and stock management solution. crossovertec.co.uk 01454 318495
Mark Hopkins is Crossover's Business Development Manager