How to start your own online fitness store
Fitness, weight loss and health are big business. The success of televisions shows such as The Biggest Loser shows that Australians have an appetite for self-improvement and looking after their well-being. This makes it a promising market to enter, so long as you have the right plan behind you.
Find your angle
Selling gym equipment online is dominated by major players, which makes it hard to crack but not impossible. The big retailers and wholesalers often lack the attention to detail that a smaller operator can provide. It is important to find your niche and your unique point of difference. These can be anything from solely marketing to women with recycled equipment, or being a specialist supplier of handmade kettlebells. This principle is true of every online business and your success will be linked to your ability to find out and tap into what customers want.
Connect with your customers
Fitness people are a unique group unto themselves and a great source of inspiration for your store. When researching your business, join Facebook groups and follow manufacturers and famous fitness faces on Twitter. Social media is a great way of finding out what is important to your target audience, as well as forging an ongoing relationship once your store is up and running.
Stick to your values
Developing a brand relies on sticking to your principles and building a relationship with your customers. If you have chosen to be a high-end retailer of home gym equipment, stick to that angle. Compromising your brand strategy will lead to confusion about the place market in which your business resides. You want your brand to become short hand for quality or affordability, and that can only be achieved through consistency.
Start small …
Developing a customer base that will return and become loyal relies on exceptional service. If your business aims to cover too much ground too soon, it may sacrifice the personal touch that small businesses are usually renowned for.
… but be prepared for growth
However, ensure you are prepared and plan for growth and expansion. Having to revamp or redesign your store to accommodate a growth spurt could cause delays and consumer confusion at a time when your business should be making the most of its expansion. This means using a hosting service and eCommerce platform that can accommodate your growth, while enabling you to deliver the small business feel you want in the beginning.
Look for partnership opportunities
Sports clubs and gyms are the ideal places to advertise your business. Many gyms will partner with fitness stores for a fee, or the chance to market their memberships directly to your customers. This symbiotic relationship can be the perfect way to build a bigger customer base, with exclusive offers for gym or club members, and the chance to be seen alongside an established name.
Take inspiration from your customers
Fitness junkies tend to be driven and resilient and your business must be the same if it is going to make it past its first year. Get involved with your customers and understand what makes them tick to create a loyal customer base.