Thomas Fahrmer is trying his second pair of tennis shoes in the large, mall-based sporting goods store. So far, he has been fairly indifferent to what he has seen. “I like to get out and try them on before I buy them,” says Farmer. “That’s why I like coming here. But the internet just has a bigger selection. I’m probably just better off clicking a few buttons and returning them if they don’t fit right.”
The mall, which sits nestled amongst the suburban landscape, is bustling with holiday shoppers, but according to the mall’s manager, Melanie Hughes, its customer base is a fraction of what it was just a few years ago. “Obviously, COVID had a large impact on our business, but our foot traffic was already slipping before 2020,” says Hughes. ”The online marketplace has undeniably impacted our bottom line, and I do not see a reversal anytime soon.”
The shift from brick & mortar to e-commerce retail is especially true in the Sporting Goods industry. E-commerce sales of sporting goods made up a majority of the $35.1 billion of overall sales in 2020, a significant increase from 2019. Part of that uptick can be credited to racket sports. Tennis, pickleball, and platform/pop tennis were three of the top six fastest-growing sports in the United States in recent years, and racquet sports were one of the fastest-growing categories in participation. The sport has shown considerable growth, and by default, so have its equipment and accessories sales. Tennis ball sales increased in volume by 9% and overall dollar value by 11% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same time in 2020, with the shipment of championship balls increasing by 13%.
A growing variable in the e-commerce trend is subscription services, which have recently found a massive upswing. More than half of subscription services are in the beauty/personal care or food & beverage at 54%, with health & wellness, including sports, claiming 16.3% of the share. While sports-focused subscription services include monthly offerings from the world of golf, football, fishing, and wrestling, there has not been a subscription service for the growing sport of tennis. Start-up company Qranc has put an end to that.
A can of tennis balls will generally last between one and four weeks of recreational play, with balls used in competitive tennis lasting as little as one to three hours. While the e-commerce marketplace has definitely added a level of convenience for tennis players regarding purchasing new balls, it still requires remembering to order them before the balls have gone bad. Qranc, specializing in tennis and pickleball balls and equipment, is looking to set itself apart from the crowd with its one-of-a-kind subscription service. Consumers can place a one-time order or subscribe to a set order that will be placed and shipped to them every 30 days, allowing tennis players to focus their efforts on their tennis game.
Obviously, subscription services like Qranc’s are only really going to be effective for those sporting goods accessories that a consumer will need regularly, but it is still a piece of the sizable e-commerce pie. For Thomas Fahrmer, the convenience of e-commerce is just too enticing. “I hate to see the mom-and-pop sporting goods stores close, but the internet is giving the big box stores that shut them down a run for their money,” says Fahrmer. “I’ll go home and shop around online for sneakers. But not before I stop for an Orange Julius.”
Parker Marquis is the founder and CEO of Qranc, a sporting goods manufacturer specializing in tennis and pickleball balls and equipment. Qranc, the first-ever direct-to-consumer tennis brand, is making it easier for players of all skill levels to get competition-quality equipment delivered directly to their doors.
For more information, visit qranc.com.