Having a retail line at your gym or studio can be a fun way to add an extra stream of revenue while marketing your brand and serving clients’ needs for awesome fitness gear. That said, simply having products for sale does not mean they will sell! But not to worry—we touched base with two studios that have had success selling branded and unbranded items to get their tips for maximizing retail revenue.
At Fierce45, one of Denver’s first Lagree fitness studios, Director of Marketing and Strategy Laina Ballantyne says they began selling both branded and unbranded retail because their studios are in locations where there are few boutique fitness retailers. Their clients are eager to shop after a workout because they do not have access to trendy athletic wear and gear elsewhere.
On the other hand, Kimberly Fowler, Owner and Founder of YAS, a studio offering a “hybrid fitness movement combining Yoga and indoor cycling,” included branded retail as part of her business plan when she was opening the first location in Venice, CA. Her goal for the YAS retail line was to get the name out there, and it has succeeded in boosting brand recognition while increasing revenue.
Both Fierce45 and YAS have made retail sales a strategic part of their business plan with these sales-boosting strategies that we are excited to share with you!
Create a Boutique Area for Retail
Having a nicely arranged display of retail items that feels like a boutique can encourage more sales by appealing to aesthetics of your clients. At Fierce45 studios Laina says that the boutique area is located near the front desk away from the exercise machines, so when clients are waiting for class to start or chatting before they leave, they can enjoy browsing the items. It makes it a nicer experience to shop, which has boosted sales.
For Kimberly, the key when she started selling branded retail was maintaining a cohesive display. “I kept everything in YAS color green, gray, black, white and skull print. That way everything mixed and matched. I’m a visual person so having my retail line set up this way it looked very clean in the lobby.”
Carry Unique Products
Laina shared that at Fierce45 they, “carry very unique lines that cannot be found in Denver,” which is a smart trick. A basic tenet of a competitive business model is to provide a product that no one else offers. If you carry a product that clients can’t find at other retailers, they will be inclined to buy from you!
Likewise, at YAS, Kimberly sells items with the skull pattern that she designed based on the racing symbol of three skulls she used as a competitive Tri-Athlete in the 1980’s, representing the triad of swimming, biking, and running. She had it produced for her branded retail line, and it has gotten a lot of press because of its uniqueness. The skull print apparel and gear have been featured in magazines and in the media, including on CNN, and are a YAS brand emblem now, which has helped to boost the brand and sales.
Run Promotions and Flash Sales
Another trick to increase retail revenue is to run promotions and flash sales. For example, Kimberly is running a promotional discount on white colored apparel for the summer, and at Fierce45 they will sometimes have a flash sale (a limited-time discount on a product) to create a sense of urgency while pushing surplus retail items or just to promote sales.
You can be creative about promotions and flash sales based on your clients’ interests, the location of your studio, and the season to promote products that you may want to clear out. You can do a buy-one-get-one sale, a post-winter sale, a buy-more-get-more (e.g. 15% off a purchase of $50)—the possibilities are endless. Experiment to see what works best for your clients.
Offer a Range of Price Points
Another easy technique to promote retail revenue at your studio is to offer a range of price points. If all your products are in the same price range, say $35 to $55, clients may be less likely to buy more than one item since it will add up quickly and feel prohibitive. Instead, offer a variety of prices on products to cater to all budgets. You can have smaller, less expensive things like socks, headbands, beauty products, energy snacks, and other “impulse buys” near the desk where clients pay while also stocking pricier products like yoga mats, bags, and athleisure apparel for people who want to do more serious shopping. It’s the variety that is key.
Market Items on Social Media
While Fierce45 doesn’t have an online shop for their retail at the moment, they do utilize social media platforms like their Instagram account to promote products, which Laina told us has worked well.
“Our social media promotion of retail has been super helpful for sales. We typically post a flat-lay or retail feature once a week and do giveaways once a month. Both methods are very successful and we see a spike in sales on the item we are promoting.”
Promote Products via E-mail Marketing
In addition to social media, Laina told us that Fierce45 does e-mail marketing and features a product in the newsletter that increases sales. If you already have a newsletter that you send to clients, add a product feature section that markets your retail in a fun way and encourages readers to come in and shop or to buy it online.
Do a “giveaway” promotion every so often in which you give one product away as a prize for a contest winner. At Fierce45 a recent contest offered a “swag bag” with a hat that was sold-out as the reward to the winner of their summer fitness challenge on Instagram. Participants had to tag Fierce45 in a post of themselves doing the challenge to be entered to win.
By giving away a product and asking for client participation, you not only market that item as something covetable, but you also promote community around the fitness lifestyle you teach! It’s a win-win situation all around.
Set Up an Online Shop
As e-commerce becomes increasingly popular, making up about 5% of total retail sales in the first quarter of 2017, the demand for online shopping will continue to grow. Having an online retail store is an advantage in today’s market.
Kimberly set up her online shop to sell YAS retail after People Magazine featured Jennifer Aniston wearing a pair of YAS fleece yoga pants in 2005, and she received 1,400 orders for those pants in one week that she had to process, pack and ship manually. Since then, she’s had an online store, where customers can shop and order merchandise without having to come into the studio locations, which opens her up to a larger retail market.
Setting up an online shop after you’ve already created a website is a whole other topic, but to get started, check out a “shopping cart software” that can be built into your website like the popular Shopify that gives you the option to also automate shipping as well.
Feature a “Product of the Month”
Once you have an online shop set up on your website, you can take another move from Kimberly’s playbook and feature a “Product of the Month” to promote sales. She told us, “When I come up with something new I feature it as the product of the month. When I designed the skull Yoga mat, it was featured in Shape Magazine as one of their favorite Yoga mats. That boosted sales! I have also featured my videos and books. This does help with sales and press.”
Offer Staff Discounts and Free Retail
Who is a better brand ambassador than your own staff? Having the people working the front desk, as well as the trainers, wear retail items from your boutique is a great way to subtly promote sales. Clients tend to admire their trainers, so seeing them modeling the clothing and gear you offer in the store is a simple strategy to influence your clients to buy.
Fierce45 offers their staff discounts on retail items, and Kimberly also gives her staff branded YAS wear to work, adding, “They are required to wear it when they are working the front desk. My instructors also wear YAS branded retail when they teach.”
Get Celebs to Wear Your Branded Retail…(no but seriously)!
This may seem like a stretch, but that whole anecdote about Jennifer Aniston being pictured in YAS yoga pants in People Magazine’s “What’s Hot” section gave the YAS retail line a mega-boost! It was Jennifer’s personal trainer (who worked at YAS) that introduced her to the YAS yoga pants when she wore them to a session, and the rest is history.
Your branded apparel and gear is not just a stream of revenue but also promotes an identity and lifestyle that people will associate with your studio. You may not have access to Jennifer Aniston, but if there are local celebs in your area, popular fitness trainers, or even clients with a large social media following at your studio, why not see if you can hook them up with some branded retail to sport when they are exercising? It may be worth a shot!