Coming soon messaging on the Leeds United home kit product page
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Written by:
Gary Landa

How to convert during the kit crunch

3 minutes

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Some football fans are facing a shirtless start to the 22/23 season as supply chain issues in Asia limit kit availability. Of the 92 clubs in the top English leagues, 22 currently have only their home kit available and 19 have neither kit available. Many strips won’t be widely available for weeks after the league has begun. 

Clubs know this is a huge blow to fans for whom buying the new shirt is a much-loved tradition. While solving the supply chain problems is beyond clubs’ control, here's what they can do to turn this negative fan experience into a much more positive one.

1. Publish ‘coming soon’ content

Give fans clarity as quickly as possible by clearly communicating the delay on a ‘coming soon’ page. This should use a distinctive design pattern that immediately distinguishes it from other product pages. It should also include the date stock will be available and give the option to preorder – even if the expected delivery date is a long way in the future.

With limited or no stock of the 2022/23 kit (especially away kit), some clubs have opted to continue selling last year’s kit. This has the right intentions but can ultimately contribute to a negative user experience. For example, parents, grandparents and other gift purchasers who don’t know the distinct differences between each season’s kit may buy last year’s in error. If they also customise the shirt, it can’t be returned – causing frustration and disappointment all round. 

2. Keep fans informed

Clubs may not yet know exactly when kit will become available but as the situation becomes clearer, it is best practice to communicate this to fans as transparently as possible. When will new stock become available? Will stock be limited in numbers? Consumers tolerate inconvenience better than uncertainty, so delivering as much confidence as possible around how the situation will evolve is essential.

3. Prioritise how to proceed

Just as important as communicating when fans can get their kit is the need to display high-value products that are available now. Many fans will have earmarked funds for their new shirt expecting to have been able to buy it in June/July. If the kit isn’t available, it’s easy for them to spend their money elsewhere, unless given a reason not to, like the ability to preorder (see point 4) or purchase other products (see point 6).

4. Preorders

Preordering has always been a great way to build demand and allow some or all fans the opportunity to be first in line to get the new kit. Clubs can then better predict and protect revenue and fans are reassured that they’ll get their hands on a replica shirt as soon as possible. Positive preorder experiences are those that:

  • Clearly communicate delivery estimates
  • Minimise the amount of time between the fan paying for and receiving their product
  • Use split delivery to ensure fans aren’t left waiting for other products due to the kit supply issues (although cross-border considerations may add complexity)

5. Acknowledge depreciation

The certainty of preordering doesn’t mitigate the fact that shirts are only current for 12 months. If a fan can’t wear the shirt until month two, the perceived value of the shirt is reduced by 8-16%. It is then good practice to offer at least this amount in additional value to compensate for the delay. This could include loyalty points, free gifts, exclusive promotions, free high-value digital downloads or free media access.

Rewarding fans for buying other products when they purchase their kit is also an effective strategy as it increases AOV. Additional reward points and digital products are particularly excellent for this purpose as they avoid additional shipping costs. Opting for a must-have physical gift means leveraging buying power to manage margins and recoup the shipping costs associated with split orders.

6. Consider the wider retail strategy

With shirt sales typically representing 50%-60% of club revenue, it’s difficult to imagine a world in which shirts aren’t the flagship product. But in the current circumstances, more balance is both possible and necessary.

While kit range is limited, fans have no choice but to consider a wider variety of products. Support this shift in behaviour by:

  • Expanding the number of products that can be personalised, such as retro wear, training wear and other memorabilia
  • Distributing retail spend across a wider range of products
  • Increasing the focus on digital products
  • Implementing relevant seasonal campaigns and launches

In the future, the introduction of digital assets, NFTs,  digital art and a metaverse shop will further widen sales opportunities.

Results will vary as every club navigates the current situation amid its own unique challenges. But a high-level framework such as this will stimulate strategy and guide clubs through this tough pre-season.

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