The typical pro shop is not often the ideal environment for selling women’s apparel to women golfers. Christina Smith, director of ladies golf gifts company Surprizeshop, and of Golf 2 Golf, the UK distributor of Daily Sports women’s apparel, has worked in golf retailing for over 16 years, and she offers some practical advice on how to make a pro shop more appealing to women.
Women account for 80% of the retail money spent in the industrialised world. Tapping into women’s consumer spend can have massive financial gains without a having to take a big risk or outlay, whereas ignoring it can mean you are ignoring a great opportunity to make more profit.
I am not on a feminist crusade, but I want retailers to tap into the long-term financial benefits a gender-balanced operation can bring.
Be a good listener
The first thing to do is listen – listen to your female customers and find out what they think. Perhaps organise a coffee morning, but at the very least, listening informally when you are teaching. An email survey could prove effective, but personal interaction is key. Ask the following questions:
How do you feel in my shop?
Are my staff helpful?
Are technical products explained well?
What are your favorite brands and favourite apparel colours?
What type of garments do you like to wear on the golf course?
Where do you buy from now? If it’s not me, why not?!
Acting on the answers to these questions can transform your buying and customer service delivery, but without it, a pro’s buying will not truly reflect the needs of female customers.
It is nothing new that personal interaction is vitally important to most female customers. Joanne Thomas Yaccato astutely states in her book ‘The Gender intelligent retailer’: “Relationships are the great differentiator in the retail and service business because unlike products and price, it cannot be copied and pasted.”
A club pro shop has a massive advantage over high street retailers in as much as pro shop staff should know their customers personally. This is particularly important if your products can be bought elsewhere. Relationships lead to long-term customer loyalty.
The Lady Captain can be a great ally, as she has so much interaction with a club’s entire ladies’ section. By genuinely helping the Lady Captain in what can be a difficult year for her can be rewarded in long-term loyalty and increased sales through word of mouth.
First class citizens
Women are usually savvy shoppers and they will see through a men’s product that has just been made in pink in an attempt to be a women’s product. All this achieves is making women feel like second-class citizens; putting a pink ball marker on a traditional, bulky, men’s brass pitch mark repairer will not resonate with women, whereas a slim-line, nickel repairer designed for women might catch the eye. Similarly, an apparel brand that specialises in ladies clothing, rather than providing a women’s line as an add-on to a men’s collection, is likely to have greater appeal.
Projects, not products
Women don’t buy products; they invest in projects. Women golfers don’t tend to buy random, unrelated items, but they like to tie into a co-ordinated theme. Women love shop displays, and a display that answers a problem is an absolute winner. So instead of locating gloves on one side of the shop, hand warmers by the till and vacuum flasks in the corner, a ‘winter warmth’ display would be much more effective. It creates a landmark in a shop, offers new options to old problems and in turn, increases sales.
Take a fresh look at your layout and see if your product placement makes sense. Women also have a tendency for more product interaction than men and they love to touch. ‘Do not touch’ signs or locked display cabinets are barriers to a sale.
Attention to detail
Ladies posters, point-of-sale displays and an uncluttered presentation make a shop more appealing to women, while changing rooms need to be private, clean and have mirrors inside them. Unlike men, most women are more attuned to the micro details of a shop. Simply making it feel more welcoming makes a difference.