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Online Store Gameplan

Note: the information below is confidential proprietary information developed exclusively by Forever Fierce. The information below is not to be shared, copied, or distributed unless you receive written authorization to do so. 

Selling physical products online is very difficult. The distractions of online ads and social media are very real. We all jump on our phones with one objective only to find ourselves down an unrelated rabbit hole- a text message that requires a response, an instagram rabbit hole, or "breaking news" that we must check out. Your clients experience the same issues once we decide to shop online.

The reason why apparel is such a foundational component of the affiliate experience is that it truly anchors members to your gym. It is one thing to say I belong to a gym. It is a different thing when you are wearing the shirt to the grocery store and it is part of your wardrobe.

The gyms that sell the most apparel sell it face to face. We have worked with thousands of gyms at this point and the data is very clear on this. The online store options you see look cool. They make sense in theory. But in reality, they don't work. Gyms that sell shirts online sell about 30% than what they would sell face to face. It is a trade off convenience for the owner in terms of organization and variety but it is detrimental to the overall community because people simply don't like to buy local products online.

If you absolutely must offer the web store option here is our go to guide for giving you the best chance to learn from other's past mistakes and how to overcome some of the challenges owners face when selling physical products online.

  1. The minimum order is 24 pieces. There are no exceptions to this. If you only hit 17 items sold, we expect you to order 7 extra to meet the minimum. We do not charge any fees associated with the online store offer. In actuality, we do not charge you any fees. So, if you start an order, we expect you to finish it. For no obligation up until this point, we feel it is a fair way to handle things. We reserve the right to change minimum requirements on future orders. 

  2. Lock in. The online store option is not a "set it and forget it!" tool. It is a tool that requires a herculean effort every day to generate sales. So, when you're offering an online store, your only priority should be promoting and pushing that product. Make sure your staff understand how to buy something. Make sure you've purchased an item yourself so you can get a feel for the check out process.

  3. Limit the options. You do not need 3 different tanks, 5 different tee colors, and 2 different long sleeve options. We have discussed this before. You are taking a bunch of great ideas and trying to offer too much. Most folks only have a budget for one new gym item a month. As much as clients ask for different colors and styles, if you offer too much in one offering, you won't reach anyone. Offering too many options is "paralyzing" and there are plenty of examples of this phenomenon across various industries and studies. Just google choice paralysis. If you must offer some variety, I would recommend 1 tee and tank style in 2 colors. That would be 4 options for people...and even that feels like too much.

  4. Promote it. A single facebook and instagram post is not promoting or marketing your preorder. Chances are your members did not see that post. Between the newsfeed and timeline algorithms and all of the other micro changes to social media platforms, it is becoming less and less common that business posts find their way organically into their clients social media lives. You need to advertise through all channels: email, printed signs in the restrooms/locker rooms/changing rooms, announcements before AND after class, text messages, whatever you have in your arsenal for contacting people, you need to utilize it. We came up with a system for doing the marketing for you. You need at least one social media post for every day you are leaving the preorder window open. You can check out those messages here:

    https://foreverfierce.com/blogs/news/let-us-sell-your-apparel

  5. Samples. Make sure you have sizing samples at the front desk so your members have an opportunity to get the right size. Unfortunately, sizing is not universal. A large tee may not fit like a large hoodie. We provide free samples to clients to ensure everyone gets the right fit. Again, free means free. There is no cost to you for this.

  6. Be prepared for less sales. I have many examples of gyms barely selling 24 items online. When we switch to a paper and pencil sign up form, the sales easily cross the 50 piece mark and sometimes even the 75 piece mark.

  7. Purchase some extras to have on hand. People procrastinate. Stuff happens. People forget to order. I would recommend 6-12 extra items per project to have on hand. This is a manageable amount of inventory.

Webstores Are Harder

“Wow! All these cool items my members will be sure to love! On top of that, a nice website to go with it! This will be a slam dunk!”

With the rise of the web site service offering comes a nice shiny new toy to distract clients. While these services and web sites may seem like a no brainer, clients who use web stores see a reduction in apparel sales by about 20-30% per order. This is significant and this is a major problem.

How can we fix it?

 To tackle it, we need to examine a key reason why people buy apparel from their favorite business in the first place: an opportunity to promote and “rep their tribe”. 

While they are in the gym, you have their undivided attention. Think about how rare and powerful that is in this day and age. To have someone’s attention for about an hour 3-5 times a week is one of the most unique advantages a fitness business has today.  It is the perfect sales environment. It’s low stress, it’s supportive, and it is an opportunity for them to thank you for all your hard work. You want people to have opportunities to “join your team”. Offering apparel officially invites people join the team as an initiation of some sort. 

Now, if we give members a link, they have to purchase this item “when they get home”… the issue is really this…when people leave the gym, all hell breaks loose. So while they had great intentions to buy the new hoodie you just released, they totally forgot because they had a million other things on their brain after they left the gym. The next day rolls around and wash, rinse, and repeat. Same thing. While they wanted to buy one, they simply forgot. Every time they went to log on, something got in the way. Then when everything lands, they ask if you bought any extras. You probably didn’t in their size. And now you have an unhappy member for something that absolutely is not your fault. 

The issue isn’t the design or the style tank top or the amount of options you offered. The issue is simply attention span and driving demand. If you can make the most of someone’s attention span, you will a huge uptick in retail sales.