What to do as a merchandiser when football has come to a standstill?
Since mid-March, the ‘pause’ button has been switched on everywhere. Society, and with it football, have come to a standstill. Nobody dares to predict when the ball will be rolling again on the soccer fields. You don’t need to be a Nobel laureate to predict the impact this will have on the sale of football merchandising. No games and no visitors in the physical fan shop are the perfect recipe for a sharp drop in sales. Yet, as a merchandiser you can still make a difference during this period. Two important tasks lie ahead for you: getting the web shop up and running and preparing for the start of the season.
In the short term: draw fans to your web shop using a creative sales campaign
Your web shop will of course remain open. In fact, people are eager to go on the Internet during this period and are buying significantly more online. This means a creative and/or commercial campaign allows you to reach out to your fans. We made a (virtual) tour along the European fields to inspire you with some of the best campaigns.
– Arsenal focus on Mother’s Day: the Gunners offer discounts of up to 50% on ‘female’ products.
– Aston Villa have come up with the term ‘March Madness’: this English mid-league team – which is home to many Belgian football players – are offering up to 60% off this season’s match shirt.
– Most other Premier League clubs follow the Villans’ example (albeit with a rather modest discount on their shirts) or simply maintain their prices.
Most clubs emphasize that their web shop is operating as usual. But we noticed something remarkable in the case of FC Barcelona: when visiting the Barça web shop, people are immediately redirected to a page of Nike, their clothing sponsor. Here only teamwear and a limited range of fan products are available in the ‘digital showcase’. Deliveries probably didn’t go as smoothly as the usual tiqui-taka of the Blaugrana midfield, so Nike must have decided to take over control.
– The proud Parisians of PSG are organizing a refreshing spring sale and have taken the opportunity to launch their new collection.
– Their eternal rival Olympique Lyon are one of Topfanz’ house favourites. Their high-quality product range and stylish web shop are truly a sight for sore eyes. Once again, OL is cleverly capitalizing on the present situation by offering products for the home. Thanks to the duvet covers, slippers, laundry baskets, wall clocks and kitchen items in the web shop, Lyon fans are experiencing a carefree lockdown.
Germans are a bit less frivolous by nature, although Borussia Dortmund – one of Europe’s leading football merchandisers – offer free shipping for a specific range of items.
Football clubs in Belgium are not sitting on their hands either:
– KV Mechelen outdo BVB with free shipping for their entire product range.
– KRC Genk go one step further: they are offering extra discounts on their Champions League collection and on all teamwear.
– Standard are offering a 20% discount on most of their product range, and KV Oostende are even offering a discount on their entire product range.
– Club Brugge recently launched their new web shop. In Bruges, they’ve come up with a ‘buy two get one free’ promotion for the occasion, while addressing the needs of families during the lockdown. Club fans will be able to entertain their offspring with toys, building blocks and footballs for children.
In the medium term: prepare for the start of the season.
The second challenge for merchandisers in this period? Preparing for the start of the season.
Still, there is a silver lining to this whole story: the corona crisis comes at a time when merchandising sales are witnessing a decline anyway, exceptions aside (cup finalists, national champions, etc.).
However, the start of the football season, along with Christmas and New Year, is a peak period. Now more than ever, it’s important to prepare for the kick-off of the new season carefully. The current crisis has reduced production capacity in the Far East. Also, delays in transport are almost inevitable. If you want to make sure that your new products will arrive in the fan shop on time, now is the moment to draw up a clear schedule and order your products on time.