3 Lessons Retailers Can Learn from the Masters
With the 80th annual Masters golf tournament about to hit Augusta, Georgia later this afternoon, the spotlight will be on the sport of golf and its star athletes. But what’s surprising is that the event also has many parallels with the retail industry.
According to a recent article by Dick Sullivan, President and CEO of PGA TOUR Superstore (a national retail golf chain with 26 stores across the U.S.), “around every turn on the picturesque course, golfers are faced with new challenges and opportunities that require them to balance the risks and rewards of their decision-making against their ability to execute shots all while striving to prevail over a field of unmerciful competitors.”
The parallels between the PGA Tour Superstore and the retail industry are more connected than you might think. Here are 3 things retailers can learn from the Masters.
1. Embrace Constant Change
The biggest difference between the Masters and the retail industry is that the Augusta National Golf Course hardly changes from one annual tournament to the next. But the retail industry is constantly being re-configured by a complex and multi-platform course where digital and e-commerce are the key game-changers. Retailers have to constantly stay on top of new opportunities, as technology reshapes the retail experience.
According to the World Golf Report 2015 (compiled by Golf Datatech, LLC, and Yano Research Institute Ltd), the global golf retail market is worth over $8.7 Billion worldwide. The same study finds that the United States has the largest golf market in the world, sharing over 65% of the international golf equipment market with Japan.
2. Link Technology with Customer Insight
Besides being the biggest golf event in the world, the PGA TOUR is also the sport’s most well-known brand. Selling the best names in equipment, apparel, and accessories, the PGA TOUR Superstore is a leading player and “Master Pick” in the retail game. Other retailers look to the brand’s approach as a benchmark for the industry.
A key part of the Superstore’s success is a proactive omni-channel strategy that provides seamless customer experiences across multiple touch-points, from their 26 retail stores to their online presence. The idea is to build a fully integrated ecosystem anchored by technology and customer insight that intuitively merges all data for a 360 degree customer experience.
Sullivan explains, “Today’s golfer can go online and book a golf lesson or schedule a custom fitting session. But we want to take it a step further and allow our customers to pick up online orders in the store and to eventually give them a fully connected shopping experience by having all of their personalized information in one easy-to-access location including lesson videos, custom fitting specs, purchase history, personalized playing tips from our PGA Pros, and more.”
3. Play the Game of Relationships
The Superstores cater to their core market of avid golfers by building long-term customer relationships and customizing everything from golf clubs to shaft options and favorite grips. They are also constantly growing brand engagement, boosting loyalty, and creating evangelists through fun and inspiring PGA TOUR-like interactive experiences, like in-store golf lessons and free game improvement clinics. And the brand hosts a variety of putting contests and PGA TOUR course simulator events where customers get to play with the same tools as the pros.
Just as balance is integral for a golfer to effectively strike his target, it’s also key to the growth of the PGA TOUR Superstore’s business. Sullivan continues, “We don’t believe in growing and expanding just for the sake of opening a new state-of-the-art store but we are always exploring and researching new markets and looking for opportunities to expand in existing markets.” Their stores, for example, sell different products in different regions, based on golf market intelligence and visibility, as well as key regional indicators like annual golf rounds.
From personalized customer service to lessons, custom fittings, and equipment, the company’s overarching goal is to inspire golfers to improve their game and enjoy the sport. Sullivan concludes, “For us to be an industry leader, we are focused on more than adding new stores or generating more impressive financials than our competitors. We focus our attention on taking care of the customer one by one. Every athlete is different and has different needs, and we strive to treat each person as such. Every individual customer experience defines and redefines our brand.”
It’s this kind of creative adaptability balanced with an unwavering customer-centric focus that may indeed prove to win a Green Jacket for the future of retail. As Masters favorite Jordan Spieth once said, “The big thing is to adapt your stance to the shot. It’s rare that you get a flat lie in the sand, so make sure to align [your] body to the slope.”