What are the top challenges facing outdoor retail?

Europeans are very fond of their mountains and seaside activities and like to dress the part. Research by the European Outdoor Group shows that the outdoor apparel market continues to grow, with 240 million items sold in 2021, worth around 6.2 billion euros.

The trend was exacerbated by the Covid crisis as people sought healthier lifestyles and showed a renewed interest in nature and outdoor activities. In 2021, sales of outdoor items – whether for activities on land, in the mountains, or at sea – increased 18.7% (by value) and 18.2% (in terms of volume) compared to 2020.

The sale of outdoor items for activities on land, in the mountains, or at sea, saw increases of 18.7% in value and 18.2% by volume for 2021, compared to 2020 figures.

EOG State of Trade 2021

Digging deeper, clothing and footwear are the two largest categories in the market and are growing significantly. Apparel is now worth about 3.1 billion euros and grew 20% between 2020 and 2021.

 

Outdoor Apparel Market: Two out of three purchases are still preferred to be made in stores

The signs look good for the outdoor retail industry, with 66% of consumers still preferring to go to a store so they can try on items before buying, according to a study by Deloitte and OutDoor by ISPO. 61% of people tend to buy outdoor and sporting goods from general retailers, as opposed to 17% of shoppers preferring specialty retailers.

Logistical challenges

Yet despite impressive growth in the outdoor clothing market, the sector still faces a number of challenges. In particular, supply chain problems remain a major concern for retailers and shortages of raw materials are putting some at risk. Closely monitoring stocks and sales is essential to best serving any B2B and B2C customers.

What’s more, consumers are increasingly looking to source more sustainable products. The same study by Deloitte and OutDoor by ISPO found that 87% of European shoppers consider a brand’s eco-credentials when buying. And 57% say they’re prepared to pay more for greener, sustainable products.

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Retailers and brands will have to adapt certain tools and technologies so that they can provide customers with the information required to endorse their CSR credentials, including item-level traceability of products, and showing their environmental footprint and production methods. For example, Moncler launched its first environmentally friendly down jacket early in 2021, which contains econyl, a material composed of recycled marine plastics. The retailer is also closely monitoring the supply of any goose feathers used in its jackets.

While there’s plenty to keep the back-office busy, retailers should concert their efforts into displaying their eco commitments in stores, using the drive towards more sustainability as a means of fostering new connections with their customers: for instance, the French outdoor brand, Aigle, has just unveiled a new store concept in line with its commitments towards more sustainable fashion, using vegetation and natural materials as part of its store environment.

Sports and outdoor retailers must create store experiences that set them apart, adopting omnichannel solutions for improved visibility of stock, with goods delivered direct to stores or customer’s homes, so they never miss a sale.

Imanol Munoz, director of sales and marketing at Ternua Group

Study by Deloitte and OutDoor by ISPO

A sector that needs to embrace digital

Another challenge for the sector is the extent to which consumers require the additional services provided by stores, such as expert advice and recommendations from sales staff about technical aspects, size and fit. During the pandemic, there was a sudden shift towards people having to shop online and the consequence was retailers having to rapidly add more digital services.

“A lot of consumers got used to shopping online during the pandemic, including plenty of people who’d never done so before,” said Imanol Munoz, sales and marketing director at Ternua Group in a report by Deloitte and OutDoor by ISPO.

And outdoor clothing brands are very much a part of this transition towards unified commerce.

Cegid Retail Live Store is a new generation of collaborative in-store apps that  allow retailers to track inventory and never miss a sale. The technology makes it easier for sales staff to show customers a broader catalogue of items available online, which can then be ordered for delivery to a store or a customer’s home.

Cegid Retail Live Store, helps store associates  stay on top of any customer requests: such as what raw materials are used in a particular garment; colour and size availability; or if you need to order a missing product from another store.

The outdoor market just needs to keep up!

Set a new pace for your business with Cegid Retail Live Store

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