What are the major challenges for the sports retail trade? How can digitization help this segment in particular to withstand the difficult market conditions? And how can e-commerce be sensibly linked to stationary retail? We asked two managers of sports buying cooperation Sport 2000 International, Mike Kerbage (marketing manager) and Nico Schulz (category manager training, running, lifestyle and swimwear apparel).
To what extent have the rules for retail changed since the Corona pandemic? What challenges and opportunities does the retail industry face now?
Mike Kerbage: As a result of political measures, retailers were faced with challenges such as rising inventories, delivery bottlenecks and payment obligations during the lockdown. As a result, many of them were eager to quickly find online solutions to continue to generate revenue and survive. The current challenge for sports retailers in terms of e-commerce is now to create an optimal connection between online and offline. Because despite increasing online sales, competent consulting and personal exchange have gained in importance this year.
Photo: Sport 2000 International
Absolute Run store concept by Sport 2000 International
Covid-19 has accelerated topics such as digitalization and e-commerce. Which solutions are indispensable for retailers in this area?
Mike Kerbage: We see every point of sale, whether online or in a physical store, as a place where our customers can get a sense of trust, expertise and a comprehensive product range. With this concept in mind, we launched our new e-commerce platform for the German market in March this year, with the aim of opening up other markets as well. We already offer e-commerce solutions in the Netherlands and Bulgaria, and we are using this experience to offer our customers the best possible online experience with optimized checkout processes. In cooperation with our brand partners, we bring our human touch with expert product reviews, recommendations and unique content online. Dealers who do not wish to sell online can participate in the click and collect option.
Of course, social media platforms also offer numerous opportunities to reach new customers, retain and cultivate existing customers and network with other partners.
Photo: Sport 2000 International
Nico Schulz, Sport 2000 International
How has Sport 2000 dealt with the growing trend of leisure/athleisurewear since Corona? Have the product ranges been adapted accordingly? And which product groups performed particularly well?
Nico Schulz: Of course, the leisure/athleisurewear segment is part of the overall result for the market as a whole, with corresponding sales. However, as Sport 2000, we are increasingly focusing on the performance segment. This naturally includes sports style products that meet these technically oriented requirements and support our long-term goal of being performance-driven. The product ranges increasingly include functional products.
In general, we are seeing a strong increase in the online sector. More and more consumers work without time and space, i.e. in the home office, and it is precisely for this purpose that they need “different” looking leisure products, so that the right product is available at the next call or in the home office.
Meanwhile it goes more and more in the direction of multifunctional products that can be used for different areas and also the look is becoming more and more trendy. Clear winners in this special time are the areas of running, bike and fitness equipment. Here we have experienced enormous sales growth. If we go back to the topic of textiles, we see growth in the bike and outdoor segments. More and more end consumers are active and close to nature.