Motoring along nicely

    The new S5 Connect

    With the brand releasing a new model in the summer Andy Brown took the opportunity to head to Motocaddy’s headquarters to speak to Marketing Manager Oliver Churcher and Sales Director Neil Parker about their range for 2017 and why all pros should be encouraging their members to go electric. 

    The UK head office of Motocaddy is just minutes away from Stansted airport and every ten minutes or so the sound of a plane taking off or landing reverberates throughout the factory and office. The location seems pretty apt at the moment as the company are flying and, with a wider range than ever before launched for 2017, business could take off even further. For this season the brand are offering eight different electric trolleys and three push, their widest range yet. Oliver Churcher, marketing manager for the firm, says the increased range is in response to listening to their customers.

    Oliver Churcher, Andy Brown and Neil Parker in the company’s meeting room
    Oliver Churcher, Andy Brown and Neil Parker in the company’s meeting room

    “The range is very much offering something in every category – so if someone wants an entry level model we have the S1 and then we have trolleys with different features and functions like the S3 Pro and then the new S5 CONNECT which is aimed at the golfer who is looking for the latest technology. We have compact models, remote and downhill control – this is a growing category in the UK market so we have offered a downhill model in our compact range,” explains Churcher.

    While the brand, as the name would suggest, are focused on electric trolleys they have also expanded their push trolleys. While they sell approximately three times as many electric as push trolleys there is undoubtedly a market for push that would be foolish to ignore. “We would love it if every golfer used an electric trolley but we realise we will never achieve 100 per cent so push is an important category,” comments Neil Parker, sales director for Motocaddy. “A recent survey amongst golf club members showed that approximately 69 per cent use electric trolleys and 22 per cent manual – if you were to look at casual golfers the statistics would be very different and would probably be the other way round. It is important for us to continue to develop our product range as one of the things our trade customers have told us is that they don’t want to deal with too many suppliers.”

    It is to be expected that it is the avid golfers, the club members, who have embraced electric trolleys more than the casual golfer. The golf pro is best placed to know which of their members might be ripe for making the switch to electric and one of the points Parker is keen to get across is how getting golfers to use electric trolleys is good for the pro. “We did a survey with SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. and found out that golfers that use electric trolleys are far more likely to buy from their pro shops than those who use carry bags or manual trolleys who are more likely to buy online or an off course retail store,” he says.

    Electric trolleys are one of the biggest ticket items in a pro shop and offer good margin so they are an important retail element for pros. Parker also points out that they work with pros on stock, as they are aware space can be an issue. “We know that the typical pro shop doesn’t have the space for many trolleys and we recognised this early on. We don’t put pros under any pressure to carry inventory – our model is that they have one on display and we provide the point of sale to allow them to sell across the range. We have lots of pro shops who, from having one product on display, might sell 30-40 units a season. There’s not another category with that return on investment.”

    For pro shops to maximise retail sales it’s all about the accessories; bags, umbrella holders, score card holders and so on. Churcher advises that it is important to ensure that trolleys are displayed in the shop with a bag on and lots of accessories, as this shows the customer all of the extras that are available and encourages a purchase to increase the overall basket total for the retailer. Another way for retailers to make more money on trolleys is by knowing the different models and which ones will be suitable for specific customers. With all trolley brands offering a wide range it is important for retailers to talk to customers and then offer the trolley which is best suited to their price point and requirements.

    “We have done quite a lot of research with our own customers – we have hundreds of thousands of people whose buying habits we can see and what models certain customer types are most likely to buy,” says Churcher. “For example, younger golfers are more likely than older golfers to buy a push trolley and ladies are more likely to buy an M1 Pro, one of our compact folding trolleys than other models. There are models that are more likely to be bought by different types of customers.”

    One model that you would imagine would appeal more to a younger audience is the new S5 CONNECT, which will be launching in the summer. Having a product launch mid-way through the season is unusual but Parker says they are more than happy with the response thus far. “We are taking orders for this now and it’s breaking all records,” he comments. “We are staggered by how well this is going. The amount of stockists placing pre orders is almost 100 per cent which, for a mid-season introduction with new technology is incredible.”

    S5 CONNECT Black High-Angled with App
    The new S5 Connect

    The ideas behind the S5 have been ruminating for some time – the company have been looking to integrate GPS into a trolley for a number of years and Churcher reveals that it is something which many trade customers, as well as end consumers, have asked them about. Eventually the brand decided that the best way was to make use of the GPS technology that we all already have in our smart phones. “We developed the S5 so that it combines with our free GPS app to connect to the trolley screen,” says Churcher. “This was one thing, but it also enables us to offer smartphone notifications and smart tech is something that has grown massively over the last few years. We know from research that younger golfers are generally looking for more technology and gadgets and the S5 should appeal to them so should help to grow the market. It is the ultimate caddy as not only does it carry your clubs round the course it also gives you distances as you go; it is the logical step for the trolley market.”

    The pro is an essential part of the brand’s business model and, as well as offering point of sale and all the other support one would expect, Motocaddy have unveiled a new string to their customer service bow: courtesy golf trolleys. Borrowing an idea from car manufacturers, it essentially means that their key (on course only) accounts get a free trolley to offer customers when their own has a problem. “We recognise that most pro shops are reliant on their membership for their business so looking after members is key and all electric trolleys will, at some point in their life, have a part which needs replacing. If the pro can say, ‘use this trolley this weekend while I am getting your part replaced’ that is a fantastic service,” says Parker. It also means that a pro shop’s rental trolley isn’t offered to the member who has a problem with their trolley, thus ensuring that it still available to make money. The number of pros offering a rental electric trolley has increased as not only does it add another revenue stream but, if someone takes one out for a round, they are more likely to make a purchase – it’s a great ‘try before you buy’ scheme.

    The brand may be about to launch the S5 which showcases new technology, but what do they think the future holds for trolleys? “The way that battery technology has changed is one of the big things, being able to use lithium batteries that are smaller and sleeker offers opportunities when it comes to the design of the trolley. The batteries in the future will become even smaller than they are now and longer lasting and that will allow trolley design to move forward even more,” said Churcher. “The sector has come a long way over the last ten years, especially with the new features that are on offer now. However, I think there are still opportunities to add new technology and make trolleys cleverer and drive the sector forward still further.”

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    Miles is the Owner and Managing Director of Robel Media, and the award winning GOLF RETAILING Magazine. With over 25 years in the media business, Miles has a wealth of experience in magazine publishing, digital media and live events. HANDICAP - 7.2