The recent COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to limit their travels and shopping opportunities. Many businesses were adversely affected by the pandemic, and some were even forced to close down.
However, many business owners also shifted their strategies and considered alternative approaches to keep their businesses afloat. To do this, these entrepreneurs had to be aware of future trends.
Some companies have turned to digital marketing services and search engine optimisation to reach a wider audience.
The increase in internet users has also increased the potential market for other online businesses. For example, e-games and sports betting industries have continued marketing their products and services, encouraging new users to join.
Even athletes are customers, and many businesses that shifted their operations online continue to offer products and services these athletes need.
These products include sporting equipment, alternative remedies for joint pain, and dietary supplements for health and wellness.
Still, knowing future trends may enable businesses to prepare for what comes next. This preparation allows companies to craft their strategies ahead of time to avoid getting left out and losing their market share later.
Sports retailing trends and the future
Business analysts often compile a list of potential trends that may affect how businesses market their products in the future. Below are some trends that sports retailers may be interested in following.
Physical to online shift
The online shopping trend is unlikely to slow down and may even overtake physical stores in market share.
Many sports retailers now find it necessary to have an e-commerce page on their websites. Other sellers may find selling through market aggregators like Amazon or eBay more convenient.
Online shopping has advantages, such as offering you the convenience of getting your product delivered to your home, the ability to shop any time of the day, and the opportunity to review and rate the product.
Suppose you are looking for sportswear or equipment, but you cannot go to a physical store because it is closed or too far. In this case, online shopping may be your next practical option, and you do not even have to leave your house to place an order.
Big data to improve customer service
Artificial intelligence or AI is not just about robots performing manual labour in place of humans. AI can also collect customer data efficiently and make analyses or predictions about future customer behaviour.
For example, sports retailers may use AI to predict what sports items are likely to become famous. The data that AI collects and analyses may become essential information for the retailer to incorporate into their business strategy.
Additionally, AI may help improve the retailer’s relationship with its customers.
For example, if you frequently purchase running shoes, the retailer may automatically recommend accessories related to your purchase.
Examples include smartwatches to monitor the distance you’ve covered as well as your heartbeat or breathable shirts suitable for running.
Increased significance of brand marketing
Marketing is still considered an effective way to make your brand stand out and reach your customers. With online shopping becoming more prevalent, marketing your products and services online also makes sense.
Online marketing may reach a wider audience than traditional methods like television, radio, or print. In 2020, traditional marketing had 50% fewer customer interactions compared to online or digital marketing.
However, digital marketing is not just about pitching products and selling them directly to customers. Online users also consider some level of storytelling and engagement to make their interactions with the brand meaningful.
When customers find your content engaging and meaningful, your brand would most likely be top of mind. This interaction may help build your brand.
Advanced technologies to enhance customer experience
Various advanced technologies such as AI, virtual or augmented reality, robots, and chatbots are used in-store and online to promote and sell sports products.
These technologies are now being used to enhance customer experience, contributing further to brand recognition and loyalty.
For example, chatbots provide automated online messaging services to customers via text or text-to-speech features.
Augmented reality or AR transforms the physical environment into a digital world that customers can interact with, increasing engagement.
Aside from improving customer engagement, advanced technology also makes operations efficient. For example, sensors in the warehouse may detect if inventory is running low, reminding managers to replenish stocks on time.
Customer preferences change over time, and these discerning clients are likely to choose products tailored to their tastes. This personality-based preference means tailor-made products make more practical sense in the future.
Mass production is one way to drive costs down, and tailor-made products require more specialisation, thus costing higher.
However, customers may be willing to pay more if the product is more tailored to them. This circumstance will likely drive innovation as retailers improve their workflow to deliver customised products that satisfy their customers.
Greater focus on sustainability
Millennials and other younger generations now have a growing concern for the environment and are becoming more vocal regarding sustainability. Thus, marketers and retailers should consider this issue as a significant concern for the business.
For example, younger customers may be more likely to purchase ethically-produced running shoes and sporting equipment than those made in sweatshops.
Other brands may offer recycling or eco-friendly disposal by encouraging customers to exchange their old equipment for new ones at a discount.
As technology advances and customer preferences change, sports retailing opportunities continue to evolve.
How retailers market their brands depends on how they interpret trends and how these significant shifts are essential to the business.
Consult digital marketing experts or business consultants if you want to know more about other sports retailing trends and how you may utilise them for your business.