Founder of what has grown to be the biggest store in sporting goods in the world, The Sports Authority, Jack Smith was the second speaker on the first day of the World Marketing Forum. Opening his first store in November of 1987, Smith saw the appeal of large, retail stores picking up pace in the U.S. and he asked himself “Why wouldn’t it work for sporting goods?” In the following, discover his essential disciplines for global companies, as well as the four factors that made The Sports Authority such a global success.
The key to maintaining success through such revolutionary times in terms of retail have come from maintaining two key strategies: making consumer loyalty the first priority, and motivating that loyalty with everyday low prices. Smith quickly realized he couldn’t beat the prices of mega stores such as K-Mart and Wal-Mart, but what would keep the customer coming back is their experience within the sporting goods’ store’s walls. How would he go about doing that? Here are Smith’s practical disciplines for a global company:
-Service that goes beyond what a customer expects. Many times a customer comes into a store with what they need already in mind. Smith made it a company-wide policy that the door greeter not only shows you where the product is with a hand movement, they actually take you to the product.
-Practical and multi-disciplinary training. Smith made sure every person in the store was trained on the register. This sounds a little silly, but when you have the ability to open up registers and demonstrate to customers that their time matters, they’ll keep coming back.
-Immerse corporate culture in local stores. The Sports Authority holds a 4-6 week training session for new employees in their home base Florida. This is one of few ways to ensure that even if you open up a store across the country, your culture will still be maintained.
-If you can’t beat them at pricing, beat them at quality. Sometimes you can’t be cheaper than the cheapest. Smith learned that lesson when he had a Wal-Mart across the street and saw that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with their prices. However, he found that The Sports Authority kept their sales up because Wal-Mart couldn’t compete with the high-quality brands his customers were looking for.
Be consistent with prices. Sales are all the fad today. However, that trains consumers to only show up when there are sales. Keep prices consistently low, and you will obtain the loyalty of your consumer.
Smith ended his speech by saying that as far as retail goes, he doesn’t see the quantity in the future that there are today, and we already see major brands like J.C. Penny’s struggling to keep up. However, as much as the markets change due to new technology and changing market patterns, one thing is certain: the consumer should be your number one priority.