CCA Sports Blog

October 26, 2017

Tired Of Discounts? Try Rewards Instead   

If you're like many outdoor, ski or bike shops, you support and sponsor events, clubs and teams in your area. These groups can be tremendous brand ambassadors and advocates for your store, while also helping to promote outdoor activities in your local community. However, this usually comes at a price for you as an owner or manager, in the form of steep discounts that you feel compelled to offer team and club members. 

Institute Team & Club Rewards

Wouldn't it be better for you (and your margins) if club members earned rewards that could be used on a future visit, rather than receiving big discounts on each and every purchase? 

An automated rewards program gives you an alternative to straight discounting while still incentivizing your team members (and your other customers) to make repeat visits and purchases. 

If you're thinking about implementing a rewards program and not sure where to start, CCA Sports Retail Services' automated rewards platform gives you the ability to set up a rewards program that will track the rewards your customers have earned, and automatically let them know when it’s time to redeem. You can even set up options for multiple rewards levels (like standard and team levels) and exclude products like clearance or sale items from rewards calculations.


September 26, 2017

Hiring Best Practices 

Ask a top retailer what’s the key driver of his or her success, and more often than not they’ll tell you it’s “our people.” Smart business owners know that the quality of their staff can ultimately make or break them. Yet, if you ask store owners what’s their toughest challenge, you’re likely to hear “finding good people."

If you're planning to ramp up staffing for the upcoming holiday season, here are some best practices that we’ve received from our member retailers that have helped them improve their hiring and employee retention:

1. Write job descriptions for each and every position in your store, and keep them current. Current job descriptions are essential to completely understanding what you are recruiting for – and for applicants understanding what they are applying for.

2. Make sure you have an “Employment Opportunities” section on your website, with current, detailed descriptions of the positions available and an online application.    

3. Let your social media followers know that you’re hiring / looking for good people.  

4. Make recruiting an integral part of each key manager’s job description.

5. Constantly recruit - all the time, and not just when you have a staff vacancy to fill. You and your managers should have a back-log of job applications from candidates that you have constantly been recruiting.

6. Always have business cards with you so that when you meet a strong employee at another business you can invite them to give you a call to learn more about your store. Typical places would be other retail environments, restaurants, fitness facilities, etc. 

7. Is your store a pleasant environment to work in? If not, time for some spring cleaning. A shop that’s a little “rough around the edges” in appearance may be fine for a service technician, but maybe less inviting to a female salesperson you might be looking to hire.   

8. Offer a referral bonus to your employees, and make it clear that the employee must be in good standing with the company for a pre-determined period of time before the full bonus is issued.

9. Designate an internal mentor to ensure new hires feel welcome and needed and contribute to the success of the business. 

10. Regularly evaluate all employees to ensure top performers are rewarded and low performers are weeded out.


August 1, 2017

Is Your Store Ready For A Customer Loyalty Program? (Hint - It Should Be!)   

More and more retailers are utilizing customer follow-up and loyalty programs to maximize repeat business and help combat online discounters. If you’ve been debating whether to set up a formal customer retention and rewards program, here are a few good questions to ask yourself before pulling the trigger. If you answer "no" to at least one of these, then a loyalty program may be right for your business.

1. Are we maximizing our attach rate and transactions per customer? 

Do you find customers leaving the store too often without purchasing accessories, clothing or other add-ons?

Are there lengthy gaps between their store visits?

A personalized follow-up email sent out automatically after a customer's most recent purchase that thanks them for their patronage along with enticing messaging can help bring that customer back into the store more frequently and increase your sales on higher margin accessory items.

2. Are we doing a good job limiting discounting in our store?

If not, an automated rewards program gives you an alternative to straight discounting while incentivizing customers to make repeat visits and purchases. Wouldn't it be better for you (and your margins) if customers earned rewards that could be used on a future visit, rather than receiving discounts on each and every purchase? 

3. Are we getting meaningful feedback from our customers?

Including satisfaction surveys in your customer follow-up communications is a great way to get timely, actionable feedback on the important stuff- customer experience, salespeople, service department, etc. 

Also give your customer the option to leave a review by including links to popular review sites.

Bottom line- don’t select a loyalty platform without some form of survey integration.

Setting Up A Loyalty Program for The Season

Here are some key questions you'll want to ask any potential loyalty solutions provider:

1. Will it already integrate with my POS system or do I need another device?
2. What are the upfront set-up and monthly costs?
3. What are the reporting and survey capabilities?
4. Is the system automated, from data in to communications out?  
5. Can I customize so that it reflects my store's branding and unique identity?


June 20, 2017

Why Offering AMEX Is Good For Your Business   

What's the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions American Express? If you're a cardholder, you probably think of all the points you've racked up making purchases with your AMEX card. If you're a retailer, "high fees" is likely your first thought (and maybe your second and third as well.) 

To Offer or Not Offer?

That's a question retailers have been asking themselves since American Express issued its first credit card in the 1950's. CCA Sports Retail Services is decidedly Pro-AMEX, and here's why:

1. American Express creates many opportunities to build your business.
By accepting AMEX, your business can capitalize on card members that are loyal, proven spenders. These customers are accustomed to putting purchases (especially larger ones) on their AMEX cards to receive the points/rewards that they offer.

2. AMEX is popular among an affluent clientele.
In fact, the average transaction for American Express cards is around $150, while Visa’s is $50 (source- 3/13/2014). Most AMEX customers are shopping primarily with plastic, and in stores that gladly accept their preferred credit card. If you don't offer AMEX, will that customer pay with another card?  Most likely, for that purchase. But you may have put yourself on a loyal cardholder's mental list of stores that don't accept AMEX, running the risk of this customer never returning again.

3. AMEX supports local businesses through its Shop Small program.
With Shop Small and Small Business Saturday, AMEX has literally created a movement encouraging people to shop at small businesses, which millions of customers have embraced nationwide.

We know what you're thinking - "That's all well and good, but I'm the one who still has to pay the higher transaction fee that eats into my margins." But what if you didn't have to pay the rate that you're currently paying for AMEX, which if you're like most active lifestyle retailers, is anywhere from around 3% or highher? What if we told you that you would pay just 2.45% for AMEX? With our group volume, 2.45% is the rate that members of CCA Sports Retail Services pay for American Express. 

To put that in perspective, many other credit card processing companies are charging an effective rate of well over 2% for Visa and MasterCard. Some of our own members did not accept AMEX prior to joining, but once they see what they will save at our rate of 2.45%, they quickly realize that they can't afford not to accept AMEX! 


June 6, 2017

CCA Sports Retail Services Partners With OIA   

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is a membership-driven trade organization that is a force for the outdoor industry in recreation and trade policy, sustainable business innovation and increasing outdoor participation. OIA has also assembled best-in-class service provider partners to offer OIA members business savings programs and additional benefits, and we are excited to announce that CCA Sports Retail Services is a new OIA service provider partner! Click here for more information.


May 10, 2017

Consumer Financing 101   

We've been hearing from more and more outdoor and winter sports retailers that customers are asking for financing when they come into their shops. Now is a perfect time to cover the key fundamentals of consumer financing, and uncover some of its myths:

Customers Use Financing At Other Retailers...And Expect You To Offer It Too

Customers are used to having financing offered to them when they shop at other stores, whether it’s by a sales associate, advertisement or signage.

When customers come to your store, more of them are expecting that you will have financing options available, particularly if they are planning to make a large purchase. If a customer walks in planning to buy a new kayak, backpack with tent and sleeping bag, or a pair of skis and expects to be able to use financing but you don't offer it, at best you've disappointed them. At worst, you've lost the sale.

Financing Incentivizes Customers To Return To YOUR Store

Why? When customers get approved for financing through our private label card program, they receive a card with your store's name on it.

Retailers have been offering store cards for decades because they know it encourages loyalty. The next time a customer plans to make a purchase, they are far more likely to go to the store where they have a line of credit and whose card is in their wallet.

You're Not Putting Your Customers In Debt By Offering Financing

In fact, you’re actually putting them in better financial position than if you accepted their credit card instead. With a credit card, the customer has just one month to pay off their balance before the higher rate on their outstanding balance kicks in. With financing, you’re giving your customer the opportunity to pay off that balance over an extended period of time, without penalty.

Let’s be frank - if you’re choosing not to offer financing because it’s a moral issue for you, then you really should not be offering credit cards as a form of payment either. Plus, why limit the payment options you accept? Give your customers more ways to pay and they will thank you.

Don't Assume Your Customers Will Not Want To Use Financing

"Our store is in a wealthy area so our customers don't need financing." We hear that one a lot. Sure, your customers may be able to afford a high-ticket purchase with cash or credit card, but don't assume that's how they would prefer to pay for it.

If given the choice, many customers will use financing so that they can make their money work for them, by putting it in an interest-bearing account, an investment, etc.

For example, a customer who could easily afford a $3,000 kayak purchase may instead choose to use 12-month financing so that they can get their kayak (and accessories) now while earning interest or dividends on that $3,000 over the course of the year. They will make the required payments each month, pay off the balance at the end of the 12 months, and now have extra income earned on that $3,000 by not having spent it in one lump sum.

The key is giving your customers the ability to make that choice. By offering them another way to pay with consumer financing, you are increasing the likelihood that they will buy from you.


March 31, 2017

Are You Really Reaching The Majority Of Your Customers?

When the topic of marketing comes up with retailers, sometimes we'll hear comments like:

“We’re putting our marketing efforts towards social media.”
“We use email primarily because it’s cheap and effective.”
“Most of our business comes from word of mouth so we focus on getting reviews.”  

Retailers that put all of their marketing ‘eggs’ in one basket run the risk of leaving significant dollars on the table. With stores dealing with lower traffic counts and high costs of new customer acquisition, the value of previous customers is greater than ever. Staying in contact with recent customers should be a priority, yet often they are ignored after they make a purchase. A major cause of this can be attributed to the  retailers’ marketing mix (or lack thereof).

If you are relying on just one or two marketing channels there's a good chance you are not reaching a large segment of your customers. To maximize sales, be sure to avoid these common retailer misconceptions around marketing strategy:

1. I Don't Need To Market To Customers Who Just Bought From Me.

The rationale is that it’s a waste to market to a customer who just spent a lot of money at my store, because he or she won’t be buying from me again anytime soon. 

The reality is that you are much more likely to get a response with your marketing efforts from this customer than a prospective customer. Did the customer buy all the accessories they need to go with their ski purchase? Was your customer informed of any maintenance packages you offer on fitness equipment? Maybe another family member needs a new elliptical, kayak, or sleeping bag. Don’t assume that a customer who just dropped some serious coin won’t buy again in the near future. The key is timing and giving them reasons to come back. 

Enrolling them in a rewards program and/or offering financing during their initial purchase (which gives the customer an open line of credit on a card with your store’s name on it) and then following up with a thank you email after the purchase are all effective tools to get this customer back sooner than you think. 

Plus, these customers can help your word-of-mouth efforts. Since they just bought from you they are much more likely to give you a positive review, so be sure to include an option for them to do so in your thank you email.

2. My Email List = My Customer List.

Email is an inexpensive and effective tool, but most stores have email addresses for only 20-50% of their customers. That’s a lot of customers not hearing from you if email is your only form of advertising. A good exercise is to download your customer list and sort by email address. This will put in perspective exactly how many customers you do not have email addresses for. You certainly will want to make an effort to get their email, but that will take time. 

To maximize results now, take your top customers from the past 2 years with mailing addresses but no email addresses and mail at least a portion of them. While a postcard costs more than an email, it will be worth it to get your top customers who haven’t heard from you back into your store to make another purchase (which also gives you another opportunity to collect their email).

3. My Customers Are Just Like Me.

Many retailers make the mistake of “mirror” marketing – assuming their customers are similar to them and take in information the same way. 

"I don’t like getting texts so we don’t use text messaging."
"I don’t really see the point in (enter social media platform here) so we focus our efforts elsewhere.”

Sound familiar? If so, you’re doing mirror marketing. Just because you don’t see value in something does not mean your customers feel the same way.

Some customers may prefer emails and Facebook, but others may prefer texting and Instagram. With a multichannel strategy you will reach more customers via the platform they prefer, making your efforts more effective.

4. Who Has The Time To Do All This? Not Me!

The problem for many retailers is bandwidth. But with today’s technology, many tools like email follow-ups, rewards programs and social media content can be automated, saving you time to focus on other areas of your business. Where automation is not an option, your team can be a big asset, particularly with social media. They likely spend more time on social platforms than you do – take advantage of their knowledge while giving them the opportunity to do something new that they will enjoy.


February 22, 2017

Do You Know Your Net Promoter Score?

As a retailer, you know better than anyone that customers are not just sharing their shopping experiences with their neighbors and friends- they’re sharing them with everyone. Online review sites and social networks have given consumers powerful platforms to express their opinions, and these amplified voices are why "word-of-mouth" has become so influential. Customer satisfaction, or lack thereof, can make or break a business today. That’s one of the main reasons why Net Promoter Score (also known as Net Advocate Score has become the "go-to" metric for many retailers.  

Do You Know Your Net Promoter Score?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the measure of a simple question that you ask your customers- “how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or family member, on a scale of 0 to 10?”
Customers who give a 9 or 10 are considered “promoters” or "advocates", while those who give a 6 or less are “detractors” (“passives” are customers who submit a 7 or 8 rating.)
The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. NPS is a valuable metric because it enables you to quantify your customers’ satisfaction. As the old saying goes, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. NPS gives you a single, quantifiable metric that you and your staff can focus on to improve the customer experience in your store. If your NPS increases, in all likelihood your customers’ satisfaction is improving along with it.   

How Do I Get Customers To Give Me Their Feedback, And How Can I Track It?

First and foremost, you need to make the decision to ask your customers the NPS question consistently. This should occur within a short period of time after a customer’s purchase, when their experience is still fresh in their mind.  Next, you need a mechanism to deliver the question to your customers and effectively record and tabulate their responses. It also needs to be easy from an operational standpoint – if it requires a lot of manual effort, it will likely fall off the radar, another well-intentioned initiative that becomes a casualty once the season is in full swing.

Easily Track Your Net Promoter Score With Ski & Outdoor Club

Retailers who are members of CCA Sports Retail Services are able to easily track their NPS through CCA Sports' automated customer follow-up program. Ski & Outdoor Club sends triggered thank-you emails to customers on behalf of the store after their purchase. These customizable emails give retailers the option to include a survey button that customers can click on and answer the NPS question.

Respondents’ answers are then fed back into the retailer’s Ski & Outdoor Club dashboard, enabling stores to not only view their cumulative NPS, but also compare their score to the average score of other participating retailers. Stores are also able to download each customer’s individual responses and comments.   

Now more than ever, understanding how your customers view you is critical to your long term success. Net Promoter Score gives you that insight in a tangible way. Use it to your advantage in 2017!