The Future King’s Of The Sport Market
In the age of direct-to-consumer, we ask what gives multi-brand bikewear retailers a competitive edge?
As consumers turn in droves to online shopping, multi-brand online retailers are gaining traction. Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP Group states
“These platforms have an essential role to play in facilitating a future where sales are coming from a variety of channels.”
As part of the in-conversation series, Ingildsen and designer/trend forecaster Chantell Fenton discuss the advantages of multi brand commerce.
Expand The Playing Field
Although the direct-to-consumer model offers greater margins, as customer acquisition becomes increasingly expensive, some brands are opting for a blended approach to distribution. Partnering with multi-brand sites can offer greater exposure and access to a larger potential consumer base with nationwide or even global distribution channels.
The LTP Group’s social media (SoMe) analysis places Chain Reaction Cycles in the top spot for social exposure amongst other multi-brand bike sites with 166k instagram followers. New brands can also gain greater credibility and name recognition stocking on larger multi-brand platforms whilst also reducing new market entry costs. Often with a larger team and budget, multi-brand retailers can invest more heavily in the customer experience across multiple channels. Finessed logistics results in happy consumers and often greater customer retention.
Another advantage of multi-brand retailers is the ability to curate the offer for customers. In 2021, there is almost a constant stream of new brands. This saturation can be overwhelming for consumers as we reach the paradox of choice. Matt Hayes, co-founder of The Fascination states
“It’s a new era now. We’ve crossed the chasm and there are just so many brands out there that curation is needed.”
Consumers will increasingly turn to specialist multi-brand sites that have built-up affinity and trust with customers. Pro:Direct used this strategy over the last 2 decades to expand beyond football to other categories including rugby, running, tennis and cricket. The retailer has forged long-standing relationships with active customers across disciplines.
Larger Assortments Enhances Up-selling Potential
Multi-brand retailers have long-standing relationships with the worlds leading sports brands, stocking their latest collections and in some cases exclusive lines. The sheer size of this product offer enables these retailers to offer unrivalled choice to the consumer. The ability to offer merchandise at different price points and across different categories can maximise sales. Bike Components sells everything the customer could possibly need whilst on their cycling journey, from components, accessories, tools and apparel. Making it the one-stop shop for bike consumers.
The Importance Of Data
Consumer data is the holy grail of retail. Multi-brand platforms are at a significant advantage due to the scale of the operation. Its not unusual for these players to see 5000+ sales per day. The metrics of which are collated and analysed to inform future buying, design and business strategy. With little margin for error, new-ins and sellout data in real-time can significantly strengthen decision-making. Monitoring and analysing web analytics can also provide granular detail on products and consumer preferences. Access to this data is a strategy which can be used to entice premium brands onto the platform.
Drive Growth With In-house Brands
Multi-brand retailers are in a unique position to fill gaps in the branded offering with in-house collections. Own-brand can make up as much as 20-40% of total turnover. Higher margins is the obvious advantage of these collections over buy-in wholesale brands.
The in-house team can utilise the collated data from across the site to create products that are compelling and exciting to customers. Wiggle’s in-house brand, dhb was somewhat of a trailblazer in this area. Evans Cycles in-house range KALF is also worth checking out. Born out of premium retailer Sigma Sports, Universal Colours is the new one-to-watch. The brand, that operates as its own entity, debuted in July with a strong design language, sophisticated colour usage, enhanced fit and high tech construction techniques. Universal Colours will soon launch their website universalcolours.com to further establish the brand’s global appeal.
Category Expansion Plans
After having cemented their position in the bike market these multi-brand retailers push into new sectors. Synergies between cyclists, runners and triathletes make these categories a natural fit. Sigma sports strengthened their main line with additional products specifically for these sports, stocking premium ranges from brands such as On Running.
Probikeshop take a different approach, bolstering their core range with a casual streetwear line for those off-race moments.
Retailers expanding into new sectors presents a unique challenge. These platforms often have names intrinsically linked to the bike which can make brand recognition in other sectors difficult. But as William Shakespeare, wrote in Romeo and Juliet
“What's in a name?”
Savvy retailers like Alltricks and Wiggle have their sights set on the thriving outdoor market. Wiggle relaunched their outdoor offer in the summer of 2018 featuring high performance kit from the biggest brands in the outdoor sector. Bikewear companies expanding into the outdoor market is a hot topic we investigated earlier this month. For more details read the article “Cycling brands look beyond the bikewear market”
LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, outdoor, athleisure and sustainable fashion. LTP was established in 1991, and is probably the biggest Sport & Outdoor garment manufacturer in Europe with Bluesign & GOTS setups in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Vietnam
LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Contract Furniture producing in nine fully-owned factories.
About Chantell Fenton
Chantell is an experienced performance sportswear designer and trend forecaster, with a passion for wellness, technology and function-first design. Chantell has an in-depth knowledge of how to spot and translate the must-have trends and macro shifts for the sports and outdoor industry. For more details visit www.chantellfenton.com