Upselling sporting goods

I don’t know why, but in recent weeks I seem to be having more and more conversations with sports retailers about “checkout candy”.

Maybe its because many are online and understand the concept but for those of you that don’t, let me explain.

Put simply the phrase refers to “temptation at the checkout”. You know the sort – sweets around the till. In fact in the grocery industry there has been considerably pressure for retailers to withdraw from this strategy as it is too successful!- apparently consumers are simply unable to walk by a row of sweets without purchasing them thus affecting their health!

In simple terms checkout candy is recognising the ability to upsell which, according to Dr Jon M. Hawes, director of Akron University’d Fisher Institute for Professional Selling “spells the difference between ‘just getting by’ and having a very profitable year,” “Revenues from upselling are usually over and above a store’s break-even point, so the extra sales quickly turn into profits.” Retailers commonly enjoy sales increases of 20 percent or more when they start upselling.

OK. But are there simple ways to implement this strategy in the sports trade?

Upsell accessories.
The surest upsell is to offer additional related items for something a customer is already purchasing.
If the customer is buying athletic shoes then you might like to suggest insoles. Why not place an insole in one shoe and not in the other so that when they try them on they can feel the difference.

This is a strategy that Footlocker employ incredibly successfully incentivising staff and ensuring that conversion rates remain high and that incremental business levels are maintained. You might also suggest things like shoe care products – a classic shoe shop upsell.

Consider the things you would want if you were the customer making this purchase – if you bought a camera, you would want to buy an extra battery, a case to carry it in, extra flash card and a card reader so you could get your pictures off to your computer, all the things necessary to create the best possible experience with the product.

In a wholesale setting, try and find out everything you can about the customer’s business and offer other related products. Appeal to most wholesalers desire to simplify and give them the option to get everything they need from one place–your place.

The accessories element of any retail business should be one of the most profitable areas.
Online retailers thrive on the “you may also like” or “customers viewing this also bought” prompts within their sites. If you are a bricks and mortar retailer use the same strategies.

Group your products
Group relevant product areas together – tennis rackets next to balls, bags, headbands and vibration dampeners rather than simply a wall of rackets.
Running shoes next to socks and insoles, hockey sticks next to grips and balls, goalkeeper gloves next to glove wash and glove bags – the list go on but all can lead to incremental sales.

Look for future events or to tie into local activities. For example many rugby retailers are driving steady business already from Rugby World Cup 2015 pin badges and keyrings and we are still some eight months out from the event.

As well as placing the products in relevant areas alongside upsell lines look at using the till space as effectively as possible.

In front of the customer works. Tucked away behind the till doesn’t.

But its not just about having additional products to upsell alongside the purchase. Don’t forget that the initial purchase itself is an opportunity to upsell.

Upsell features.
Not all products are equal, and especially in the sale of higher-end items, it’s good to guide the customer through different features, highlighting the benefits of more-expensive items.
Make it practical for the customer.

In a wholesale setting, you might consider different size orders that would give the customer the same product at a better deal. Bulk items generally come with a benefit, so it’s a good idea to highlight the long-term price benefit in making the bigger buy now instead of waiting to come back for more.

Upping the ante
Upselling isn’t just “extra” pounds in your till—it’s vital to the long-term profitability of your sports retail business and, perhaps more importantly, is the reason why the specialist sports retailer can continue to grow and thrive in the face of stiff multiple retail competition.
According to the experts, here’s why:

Customers may believe they are shopping for price, but they really want value. They will return only if what they buy meets their needs.

Customers feel suspicious of a pushy salesperson, but at the same time they need shopping guidance from a sales staffer who is focused on their needs.

With more stores advertising huge markdowns and discounts, you have to keep your margins up by upselling with better merchandise and cross-selling with desirable add-ons.

So next time you are looking through a trade magazine, or walking through a show, don’t forget to spend some time looking at the accessories and upsell lines.

Pick them wisely, and to complement your product offer by category, and you might just find that additional sales lift you’ve been looking for.

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