For many Australians, buying workout clothes, camping equipment and even a home gym online isn’t just possible, it’s practical, thanks to the rise of fast shipping, free returns and high-tech eCommerce sites offering virtual try-ons.
These changes have helped drive a CAGR of 7.6% over the five years to 2019-20, when industry revenue in the online sport and equipment sector was expected to hit $571.3 million, according to IBISWorld. And while growth is expected to slow to a CAGR of 5.3% over the five years to 2024-25, that’s still faster than the retail sector overall, mainly due to the rapid uptake of online shopping during COVID-19.
But the global pandemic hasn’t just impacted where people shop (in-store or online), it’s also impacted what they buy, with many online sport and equipment retailers seeing a sharp increase in sales of workout apparel, footwear and accessories during lockdowns. With gyms closed, people have turned to at-home and outdoor exercise to keep their fitness routines going and boost their mental health.
Of course, online sport equipment retailers still face challenges, since the products they sell are dependent on consumer sentiment and discretionary spending, which have dipped over the last 18 months. At the same time, margins are being squeezed as major bricks-and-mortar players expand their online offerings with low-priced products and free delivery through click-and-collect.
But there are still opportunities to compete on factors other than price by tailoring your offer to certain segments, such as eco-conscious shoppers or women. Here are some of the current opportunities and challenges for online retailers selling camping, fitness and sports equipment and apparel in Australia.
The biggest opportunity for online retailers right now is the increased demand for sport and fitness products and rise of online shopping due to COVID-19. Because exercise has been one of the few activities allowed during lockdown, people have flocked to streaming fitness videos and outdoor exercise, such as walking and jogging.
Unsurprisingly, online sales of yoga mats, weights, workout clothes and running shoes have risen sharply over the past 18 months. Many consumers have splurged on new activewear, especially since these outfits can pull double duty as officewear in an era of remote working.
However, stock availability is key to tap into this trend, and many retailers have struggled to keep pace with consumer demand over the past year and a half due to supply chain disruptions. As a multi-carrier shipping platform, Shippit seamlessly integrates with a range of delivery partners across the country, so you can avoid logistical delays which could negatively impact the customer experience.
Find out what other steps you can take to reduce your risk of delivery bottlenecks in this blog.
Some online sport and fitness retailers are finding success by targeting a certain type of customer. Ida Sports is an exciting new brand of football boots designed specifically for female soccer players. Others are catering to those who care about sustainability. For instance, Nimble Activewear offers eco-friendly workout clothes made out of recycled spandex and nylon. Camping and outdoor brands in particular can benefit from aligning themselves with environmental causes.
Check out our eBook about how to make your eCommerce business more sustainable.
Unlike demand for general fitness products, such as workout clothes and running shoes, sales of specialised clothing, footwear and equipment for organised sports, such as cricket, rugby and AFL, have fallen during the pandemic. These products actually account for more than a third of the total online sport and fitness market, so retailers in this space may need to diversify beyond people organised sport to offset the impact.
However, the biggest challenge for online retailers may be the expansion of major bricks-and-mortar retailers, such as Super Retail Group’s Rebel, BCF and Macpac, into eCommerce in recent years. Thanks to their economies of scale and national store networks, which make it possible for them to offer free delivery through click-and-collect, these industry leaders have put downward pressure on prices and raised consumer expectations for convenience. To compete, online retailers will need to focus on reducing costs throughout their entire operations, including the fulfilment process.
With discounted rates on a range of delivery partners options, including express and big and bulky shipments, Shippit can help you sharpen your offer and continue growing in an increasingly crowded market.