Successful Pro Shop entrepreneurs are always looking for new ways to enhance the ambiance of their shop, their product selection and their level of customer service. This blog will serve to facilitate that process by providing entries that address basic retail principles; new ideas in pro shop retailing and interviews with leaders in the industry. Stop by often, send a friend. email@example.com
A note from Craig
Kirchner: Vanguard Pro Shop, a team headed up by the principals behind
PGA Magazine and Bandon Dunes Resort launched in 2014 an e-commerce solution
for private clubs and upscale golf resorts. More than 50 leading
clubs and resorts and more than 30 leading vendors have already committed to
move forward on this effort. Many of these resort and private club
solutions are already producing impressive early results. I am part of the
Vanguard team and proud to be involved with a solution and platform that I feel
is such an important part of the future of our industry. This article
describes why we are passionate about what we have learned to date and what the
future might hold.
Derek Thompson the
senior editor at The Atlantic wrote an article titled
"Death of the Salesman" discussing the decline of big box retail and
department stores such as Sears and JCPenney as well as the decline in the
retail job market in general. The article byline is "More Americans work
in retail sales than in any other occupation, but these jobs are threatened by
technology." He makes the point that - "Twenty years ago the shoppers
went to the stores. Today the stores go to the shopper. Increasingly there seem
to be two kind of stores - those in a race to the price bottom and those
closely guarding the patina of a shopping experience."
The article only alludes
to Arthur Miller's award winning play by its use of title. It never mentions
Willy Loman and the death of the American Dream as seen through Willy's
dysfunctional existence. It does however leave us with this thought "Cheap
prices and cheap workers - that is our vicious cycle and the ultimate American
shopping bargain. We are getting exactly what we pay for."
Golf shop retail is
typically the first and last chapter of an amazing experience - a round of
golf. As such we are already "those guarding the patina of an
experience." While many of the brick and mortar stores discount their way
into oblivion there is obviously an opportunity to vanguard a new shopping
environment playing on the strength of the relationship to the game as well as
the club or facility while incorporating technology into the equation as an
extension of the shop and its image. We speak often in this space about
upgrading retail salesmanship through training and enhancing the ambiance of
the experience with smart buying and smarter merchandising. The time has come
to extend the shopping experience beyond the walls of the shop and endear
members/regulars to shop a myriad of goods that are not typically available.
The only way to provide this opportunity to your customers is to customize
e-commerce to your facility.
At this moment, 98%
of green grass retail is brick and mortar and is being
cannibalized to some extent by e-commerce. This is a general statement and
certainly isn’t true of all categories of goods or all shops, but is by
definition true of the industry as a whole. What is more significant to me than
the lost revenue represented by this is the loss of interest on the part of the
consumer. I’m not talking about the consumer who is giving up on their favorite
stores and enjoyable shopping experiences with retail staff that have become
respected friends. I’m talking about consumers who are becoming used to being
able to support these same stores from their laptop at home or computer at the
office or from their phone for that matter. I’m talking about consumers who are
also interested in more selection of brands, sizes, and product categoriesthan would normally be carried in the shop. This is more the
mind-set of today’s consumer and certainly the member at high-end clubs. The
industry needs to realize that encroachment is coming at it from every quarter
on the internet and provide the customer the avenue to frequent what has
become one of their preferred modes of shopping.
The shop at a
progressive facility should be looking to take advantage of the opportunity
that e-commerce provides by giving their customer the following on-line service
e-commerce solution must be able to take advantage of the affinity that the
members of the club already have for their club, for their PGA Professional,
for their favorite buyer and for their club logo. It has to be a customized
shopping experience that reflects an extension of the ambience and quality of
the brand and product that has been established by the existing shop.
expansion of the product and vendor availability, especially to include more
ladies and lifestyle goods than most shops are able to provide. This selection
changes and updates itself so as to stay interesting but doesn’t need to be
owned because of a drop ship partnership per vendor. Women are the shoppers of
America, we must make them a bigger part of the golf club shop customer base.
logoed an un-logoed options that aren’t available in the shop. This can include
color and placement of logo obviously but also the availability of multiple
logos including, for example, tournament, historic or member-only logos.
ability to send gifts drop-shipped to friends and family without calling the
shop, using staff time to hunt down what is needed, possibly special
order it into inventory and then ship the order where it needs to go.
shopping spree as a tournament favor and customized to the tournament or outing
budget so as to give the member, guest or corporate player an opportunity to
pick their own gift, have it shipped to an address provided and patronize the
access to this service 24/7 – 365 regardless of season or weather.
site must be easy to use, professional in appearance, secure, and private (for
members-only if for private clubs) and it must be able to offer custom pricing
options that allow for special Mill River or similar member pricing.
Most internet research
on e-commerce will immediately take you to articles that want to match
traditional brick and mortar against new up and coming online shopping. I’ve
never seen it as a contest or as an either/or, but always as how the aspiring
golf shop can incorporate e-commerce as part of its service to its members,
guests, resort guests, etc. If you throw out all the antagonist editorials and
the accompanying statistics, you are left with an understanding that online
shopping is important to people as a convenience, as a mode of shopping that
isn’t limited to time of day or “is it snowing?” and that should continue to
evolve and grow.
Expand your ladies selection
The ability to provide
this enhanced service to members/regulars can only be accomplished with the cooperationof quality vendors who are interested in helping both their green
grass partners and prospective green grass partners expand their retail
horizons by providing a supplemental and changing product selection that can be
customized and drop-shipped. One of the biggest benefits of this type of
arrangement for the vendor is the exposure their product gets to the right
demographic along with the ability to tell their brand’s story the way they
want it told and with the imagery they provide.
Why would any retailer
not want to offer more convenient store hours during the holiday shopping
experience … but too many golf clubs have relatively little foot traffic at
this critical time of year? We simply must deliver
better member services or someone else will. Member and
customer convenience and broader selection are only the first two reasons to
charge forward and find solutions – there are so many more.