During this year’s winter-sports season, retailers and sport fans alike are having to demonstrate huge amounts of patience and flexibility. Across Europe, the rules on winter sports keep changing from one minute to the next, as do opportunities to practise these sports. What hasn’t changed, though, is the excitement we feel as we look forward to carving through powder snow or taking our first steps on untouched, wintry ski-tour routes. This is when weatherproof clothing and the right equipment come into their own. In Austria, a nation of skiers, SPORT 2000 works with Ski Pros to offer customers a special winter-sports shopping experience. The certified SPORT 2000 Ski Pros are exceptionally knowledgeable, have access to the top brands and work with state-of-the art analytics technology.
SPORT 2000 Austria: a true pro
SPORT 2000 has realised four Pro concepts – in the cycling, running, team-sports and skiing segments – since 2018. Customers throughout Austria currently have access to 43 Cycling Pros, 24 Running Pros, 24 Team-Sport Pros and 52 Ski Pros. “Ninety-four of our retailers – in other words, around 40% – have introduced at least one Pro concept and firmly believe in the viability of this approach for the future,” according to Dr Holger Schwarting, member of the Management Board of SPORT 2000 Austria. The Pro concept’s development over the past two years has proven to be a success, says Schwarting, who is sure that Ski Pros will continue to go from strength to strength in the future: “Most of our retailers are already top of the league in winter sports, but the ‘Pro Certificate’ will underscore and promote this further. With a Ski Pro, the customer is guaranteed first-class service, top quality and a highly personalised approach.”
SPORT 2000 Ski Pros: advising customers is their favourite sport
Skiing has a long tradition in Austria, with thousands of winter-sports enthusiasts heading to the pistes every year. “This sport needs professionals who will respond to individual requirements and ensure your safety on the piste by providing you with professionally maintained equipment. This isn’t just ‘nice to have’, it’s essential,” Schwarting points out. Certified Pro retailers have built up extensive expertise over the years so can recommend the product that best suits each skier’s goals and abilities. In addition to service and maintenance, the use of analytics tools is a unique part of the SPORT 2000 Pro experience. For SPORT 2000, specialisation means focusing on the customer’s goals and customising our equipment with these in mind. This tailored approach begins with a foot analysis and continues right up to the final adjustments.
Retailers must meet the following criteria to become SPORT 2000 Ski Pros:
- Use modern analytics tools such as bootfitting
- Participate in SPORT 2000 training
- Stock products from the brand portfolio recommended by SPORT 2000, which includes Fischer, Atomic, Salomon, Rossignol, Head, Nordica and many more
- Demonstrate a clear focus on quality and service
SPORT 2000 Pro concepts: recommended by customers
With its focus on specialisation and a highly personalised service, the SPORT 2000 Austria business model offers great potential for the future. Over these past few weeks and months of the pandemic, specialist retailers have been least affected by falling sales. In addition, mystery shopping commissioned by SPORT 2000 has confirmed the popularity of Pro retailers among customers. In its detailed examination of the Ski Pros’ performance, the mystery shopping assessment yielded very positive results: “The recent mystery shopping assessment showed that customers experience top advice and service when shopping in SPORT 2000 Ski Pro stores. We achieved a recommendation rate of 85%. These kinds of assessments confirm that our retailers and their staff are passionate about their work and give it their all every day. They also pass this passion on to the customer,” Schwarting notes, adding that these kinds of assessments are extremely important to him and his retailers: “At SPORT 2000, we undergo regular external assessments to ensure that we maintain our high standard of personalised service and top quality. We have no doubt that skilled, well-trained staff are what makes a sports retailer stand out from the competition. Our Pro concepts, in particular, promise customers a unique experience. We want to make sure we keep this promise.”
SPORT 2000 rent: ski equipment rentals need pros too
The rising number of bookings at the 600 SPORT 2000 rent stations in the Alpine area over the past few winters indicates that rentals are a growing trend. SPORT 2000 rent offers sports enthusiasts and those yet to commit a perfect opportunity to try out new sports or experience one of these niche areas for a day. Demand for special interest products such as touring skis, avalanche transceivers and splitboards has grown steadily over the past few years. The rental service relieves the financial burden for families, in particular, with selected SPORT 2000 rent retailers making skiing a more affordable sport by offering kids’ equipment free of charge. Irrespective of why material is rented, more and more people are going for the “test & buy” option, which allows them to rent skis online, go for a test ski and then buy the skis if they are satisfied. Between 20% and 40% of skis rented are sold to customers in the end, though this varies from retailer to retailer.
The SPORT 2000 rent website: accompanying customers on their journey
To make renting skis, ski boots and additional equipment even easier and more intuitive, SPORT 2000 Austria launched the new SPORT 2000 rent website in September 2019. One of the main aims was to optimise the site for mobile devices. Detailed descriptions provide users with advance information about products’ quality categories. This allows retailers to focus on individual requirements with expert in-store advice. Just a few months after the relaunch, customers voted SPORT 2000 rent the number-one ski rental company in an Austrian consumer study performed by the ÖGVS (Austrian Society for Consumer Studies). The study evaluated factors such as staff friendliness, advice offered, quality of the rental material and value for money. For Schwarting and his team, the customer journey was the top priority when developing the new website: “The rental business is becoming increasingly important. Our job is to make renting as convenient as possible for customers. We make things as easy as possible for customers online and then offer them professional in-store advice.”
Photo credits: SPORT 2000 Österreich/Stefan Leitner