With the launch of Ski Experts by SPORT 2000 Germany, the international buying group is continuing its successful push for specialisation. Consolidated expertise in the specialised stores is a win-win-win situation, especially for customers, retailers and the sporting goods industry. Bernhard Leichtfried, international category manager for winter sports, and Marvin Krieter, international marketing manager for winter sports at SPORT 2000, talk about specialisation in the winter sports segment and about what the Ski Experts in Germany are all about.
The new Sport 2000 slogan, “Home of Experts”, shows the future of sporting goods retail: the SPORT 2000 stores are home to real experts. With the Ski Experts in Germany, another SPORT 2000 country is rolling out an important specialisation concept with a focus on winter sports. Around 50 SPORT 2000 retailers in Germany are implementing Ski Experts from winter 2022/23 onwards, a concept that is experiencing huge success in a similar form in Austria, under the name “Ski Profis”. “With the Ski Experts label, you will be able to see that the stores are the home of winter sports. The specialised retailers and their employees offer the best advice and an authentic shopping experience for winter sports. They practise winter sports in their free time, often to a very high level, and are genuine experts in their field,” says Bernard Leichtfried, international category manager for winter sports.
Centre of expertise for the ski industry
The independent SPORT 2000 retailers distinguish themselves in the world of winter sports with outstanding product and service quality. Marvin Krieter is convinced: “SPORT 2000 Ski Experts are the best partners for the ski industry – and vice versa,” as the specialised stores offer the ideal framework for the winter sports brands. The selected range will be presented attractively at the POS and personally recommended by the specialist advisors. “This is what makes specialised stores so attractive for the branded item industry,” says Krieter. The personal consultation allows the Ski Experts to offer customers an authentic shopping experience. This means they are seen as trustworthy advisors by the customers. The specialised retailers meet every year to test the new ski models themselves. Whether it’s alpine skiing, cross-country skiing or touring, the sports advisors in-store are familiar with the products from their own experience and can apply their know-how in their consultations. From consultation to service, bricks-and-mortar specialist retailers have a clear advantage as a competent point of call over discount shops and exclusively online retail, where customers are left to their own devices when it comes to important decisions.
DSV-certified ski workshop
All Ski Experts in Germany have a ski workshop certified by the Deutscher Skiverband (German Ski Association, DSV). The co-branding with the DSV and the regular training guarantee first-class ski service in all stores. “We recommend that skis are serviced, including a bindings check, before each winter season – for safety reasons, but also for better performance,” says Krieter, adding: “The surface is refurbished and the edges are polished so that you are perfectly equipped for the new ski season.”
Customisation for the best skiing experience
A perfectly fitting ski boot is just as important for your skiing style as the right ski. “The ski boot is the most important connection to the ski. You can only transfer your energy optimally to the ski if the boots fit your feet perfectly.” Boot fitting is one of the core tasks in the winter sports segment. The Ski Experts have cutting-edge analysis tools such as 3D scanners at their disposal. “The most important thing is, as before, a comprehensive consultation with an experienced boot fitter. They have the necessary expertise to analyse the foot in detail and select the most suitable model and adjust this individually. Our retailers have to be in a position to solve all the fit problems of our customers – this also differentiates us from the competition,” explains Krieter. In order to always stay up to date, all Ski Experts participate in the annual boot fitting training sessions with Masterfit and Sidas. The combination of technical tools, personal know-how and selected material ensures that each customer leaves the store with the ideal equipment. Safety is the minimum requirement here. The individual requirements for comfort or performance are defined in the professional consultation and fulfilled with the corresponding products.
More sustainability in winter sports
Sustainability is also becoming ever more important in the winter sports segment – both for customers and the industry. Environmentally friendly materials and recycling programmes are increasingly being explored. “There are exciting initiatives for recycling ski boots, for example. One manufacturer prints QR codes on its ski boots to provide information about the materials used, so that the individual components can be recycled properly,” says Krieter, citing an example. He assumes that the proportion of sustainably produced products in the SPORT 2000 ranges will increase and will find great resonance with a growing segment of customers.