Member Experience

Raise Revenue and Retention by Rockin’ Retail Sales

A strong retail sales program can be extremely impactful for a fitness business. Having great merchandise can also increase your revenue and retention.

Monica Hilton
September 21, 2022
TLDR;
A strong retail sales program can be extremely impactful for a fitness business. Having great merchandise can also increase your revenue and retention.

When it comes to revenue streams in the fitness industry, retail sales are often overlooked. Despite the significant potential, retail can often be seen as too labor-intensive or not worth the profit margin.

However, retail has more benefits that just profit. Even though it won’t be the dominant revenue stream for your fitness business, it’s important for brand awareness, membership retention and more.

Here are some powerful ways to rock your gym’s retail sales:

1. Run A Pre-Order.

Forever Fierce retail apparel

Gone are the days of bulk-ordering shirts with an equal number of each size. The awesome new trend is creating pre-orders: Members order exactly what they want so you don’t print any additional items that might not sell. The key here is that you don’t have any actual inventory at the start of the order. Instead, you collect orders, receive payment and then make a purchase for the exact amount of merchandise that was ordered.

There are three keys to a solid pre-order:

  1. Include a clear start and end date. This lets members know they have a limited amount of time to act, or they’ll miss out. Also, be clear about the turnaround time (expected delivery date) once the order is placed.
  2. Make sure your design is 100% ready-to-go so you can put in your order ASAP when the promotion ends.
  3. Create scarcity. Everyone wants something when it’s in limited supply, so let your members know that this is a one-time (or once-a-year) offer.

Need help? Our friends at Forever Fierce are pre-order ninjas and would love to give you all the details!

2. Tell Your Story.

Did you know your retail merchandise can tell a story? Better yet, it can tell your members’ stories. And if done correctly, your retail sales can be an integral part of your member experience.

Start by establishing the thing(s) that your gym members value. Then work it into a design, connecting your members and building your brand. For example, is there a saying your members use a lot? An “inside joke” at your gym? A unique landmark exclusive to your city that resonates with your members? Use things like this for fun apparel designs and/or slogans!

3. Automate Online Orders For Retail Sales.

Members order retail apparel

With the right gym management software, you can automate the entire retail sales order process. Your members will love the simplicity of placing their order with just a few clicks. All their info is already in the system so the process is quick and seamless.

On the back end, you’ll be able to download and send the entire order to your apparel printing company, without having to enter it manually.

Pro tip: Make sure your website is formatted for both desktop and mobile.

4. Promote Benefits And Add-Ons.

You don’t sell a product by promoting its features but rather, its benefits. Nobody cares about a 100% Egyptian cotton t-shirt. Instead, they want super-soft, good-looking apparel. Here are some things to keep in mind to sell benefits, not features:

  • Help your member imagine wearing your product. How can you get your members to visualize wearing your gear? Tell a story. They look good. They’re comfy. Promote the benefits with descriptive, yet concise, info that elicits emotion and action.
  • Upsell more items. When a member has decided to make a purchase, offer them additional items. This is a perfect opportunity for impulse purchases because they’re already committed to buying. If they ordered a t-shirt, offer a hat for a discounted price too. Just remember to price all items at a profitable rate.
  • Create collections, not products. If you put time, effort and money into getting a stellar design for your t-shirt lineup, why not create an accompanying pair of shorts, shoes or a duffel bag? Don’t just think about one item but instead, a full collection. You’ll have clients who go for the whole lot, and others who cherry pick one or two items. If a design works, drive more retail sales with additional options.

5. Make It Easy To Purchase.

Easy online retail ordering

Nothing is more frustrating than finding a great product and then jumping through hoops to get it. A difficult purchase process is frustrating for all parties involved. It’s more work for you on the back end and will result in plenty of abandoned carts. Here are a few quick tips to simplify their experience:

  • Include tax in the sales price: For in-store purchases, make the buying process easier with a solid, flat rate. Be sure to create signage indicating the price listed includes tax.
  • Don’t offer too many options: One of the biggest problems with online stores is too many options. It’s overwhelming. Help customers see exactly what they’re searching for without showing every option possible. For in-store sales, design a clean display with plenty of white space between merchandise.
  • White space: To keep things nice and readable, make sure your retail merchandise is visible with buffering on all edges. A photo that feels too zoomed-in is abrupt and in-your-face. Provide “white space” around the edges so you can show it off without overwhelming people. After all, the spotlight only lights up the subject; there’s still plenty of stage on either side of them.
  • Reduce the number of steps: For in-store purchases, have a quick way to pay. Whether through card, Apple Pay or another payment method, allow them to pay and go. For online stores, one confirmation page and one upsell offer are sufficient. Any more than that and users may abandon the purchase altogether.

6. Create Powerful Visuals.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Visuals are extremely important for retail sales and the overall perception of your brand. Here are some tips for creating powerful visuals:

  • Lighting sets the mood. Whether it’s a 3D-rendered mockup of your merchandise or an actual photograph, focus on lighting. This can change the entire mood of the subject. If your collection represents a raw, gritty theme, don’t use soft lighting like a yearbook photo. Find lighting that matches the emotion that you’re trying to convey.
  • Less is more. Use a few words and let the pictures do most of the talking. Make sure any words make sense for the overall benefit or emotion of the merchandise. Something simple like, “Level Up Your CrossFit Wardrobe” could be used to confidently show off a collection. Or, for a pair of sneakers, “Morning runs. Easy mode.” The tagline should always correlate to the visual or benefits of the merch itself.
  • Take up space. A small area on a merchandise shelf isn’t going to get noticed. Make large displays that draw attention and get people talking, even if it’s just amongst each other. People don’t want to be sold to by the front desk staff. Make your merchandise sell itself.

7. Train Employees For Customer Conversions.

Your members are prime targets for retail sales. You’ve built a brand you can be proud of and they’ve bought into it. They’re personally involved and they’re probably sticking around for awhile.

You can leverage that to drive sales by teaching staff to “read the room.” Over time, it becomes very easy to determine whether or not someone is in the right place to be sold to. Here are some points you can use to train your staff on whether or not they should upsell, and how to do it.

Utilize visuals in the gym, notice interest and open up conversations. This is a soft sale. Your staff won’t be directly asking them to buy anything or talking about prices. They’re simply asking questions or gaging interest. Since retail isn’t your primary focus, it should be promoted under the right circumstances.

Train staff for retail conversations

In Summary: The Impact Of Retail Sales On Revenue And Retention

A strong retail sales program can be extremely impactful for a fitness business. Not only do members want to support your business, they want to be part of the story. Create merchandise that lets them rep the brand proudly. They’re buying inclusivity and making your gym part of their identity.

You don’t have to overdo it. Give retail the equivalent amount of time that it returns to you in value. If it brings in 5% of your revenue, give it 5% of your time. Be purposeful with your collections and designs, and market it enough to drive sales. Over time, you’ll reap the benefits of increased revenue and member retention.

Monica Hilton

Monica is our Content Manager extraordinaire for PushPress. She also owns her gym in Indianapolis, Together We Rise CrossFit, which she opened in 2014 and previously worked in IndyCar racing.

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