Saturday, August 12, 2017

In-House, On-Line

 About the same time as the Y2K scare there were a number of companies competing to own and IPO the online tee-time business -, etc.  Part of the marketing strategy of these efforts was to promise the shops they were partnering with free in-store kiosks where members/customers could make tee times online and/or shop with participating vendors in real-time inventories tied into POS systems, which were also going to be provided. As it turned out most of the promises were smoke and mirrors, most of those companies are gone and the only thing remaining is the bad reputation of the term shop-kiosk.

Daniel Island Club

One of the first entries on this blog in 2009 entitled ‘The Climate in Orlando’ references reducing inventories by cutting back the space you need to merchandise with a sitting area. One of the asides mentioned in that discussion was that this area could be a spot where shop staff could sit and go through readily available catalogs of partnered vendors and make special order recommendations.

This entry will suggest taking that concept one step further by adding a laptop to the area with a desktop of icon links to all of the major vendors affiliated with the shop. Envision this laptop sitting on a coffee table in front of a small sofa that used to be functional only as a place to sit and try on golf shoes and where now customers can basically point and click to the entire inventory of goods that you have access to by virtue of the shop’s accounts. The backdrop for this desktop of links could be the message that the shop is in the business of servicing the members/regulars corporate and tournament needs. This is obviously an effort to drive the special order and corporate business, but it also accomplishes some things that are more subtle and perhaps, not quite so apparent.

Most customers today fall into one of two categories: Customer A – the computer savvy, who like most of the population, are increasing their online shopping exponentially every year; or Customer B – the computer fearful who have trouble opening their email let alone point and clicking to drill down to a leather jacket from Peter Millar.

Sand Hills Golf Club

 The laptop kiosk being suggested would intrigue Customer A to take the time to become increasingly familiar with all the goods and services your shop can make available. More interesting perhaps is the opportunity for your staff to teach Customer B how easy it is to navigate the desktop and shop online; more of the ‘above and beyond’ service to which we keep aspiring.

The process of creating this desktop should involve asking the following questions:

·        Do the vendors you are researching have web sites that sell to the public? If they do you may want to reconsider your account.

·        Does your mix of vendors include categories such as tailored clothing, lady’s handbags, luggage, crystal, blue jeans and tennis shoes. This is the perfect way to provide these categories with a minimum of - or no inventory?

·        Does the shop want to go after ad specialty categories such as pencils, name-tags, key chains, tee shirts; who are these vendors and how do we open accounts with them?

·        Do we have someone on staff that has the computer savvy to make this seamless and can they be incentivized to take ownership of the project?

·        Could this concept work better in the locker room or the 19th hole?

·        What is going to be the best way to introduce and market this concept to the customer base or membership? Obvious are newsletter and email announcements, but a special order contest among staff members could be fun also.

 Make the screen saver a rolling slide show of pictures from the member guest or corporate outing.  Also icons to vendor videos would provide in-depth product knowledge that could enhance sales. This will certainly attract attention and promote conversation.

For many shops, whether at private clubs or public facilities with a regular customer base, the special order business can represent as much as 20-25% of the total revenue per year and with a healthy hard-goods business, maybe more. Special orders other than the result of a lesson and club-fitting are almost always the idea of the customer. The kiosk will help inspire more of these ideas in-house. If you are already doing this or something similar please leave a comment.

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