TUALATIN, Ore., June 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The $620 billion global sports industry is under increased pressure to take notice of the rapidly changing retail industry. Consolidation and brick-and-mortar retailers have led many small manufacturers of sporting goods to assess how best to engage its customers. A constant has been the manufacturer-to-dealer relationship and the more recent channel of the big-box retailer; multichannel retailing, even for small manufacturers, open new opportunities to reach consumers.
JUGS Sports, nestled in the Silicon Forest of the Pacific Northwest, is one of those small manufacturers with 32 employees, but reaching youth league, collegiate and professional athletes across 41 countries. This year, JUGS Sports celebrates its 45th anniversary of innovation and adaptation to a changing sports market once dominated by baseball and softball and a single-channel approach to reaching its customers. JUGS has focused on three strategies to sustain the years of change to the retail industry, including:
- Hiring The Customer: Dealers and the big-box retailer provide manufacturers with the insight needed to unearth the shopping trends of its customers. It is the barometer of retail, a pulse on the customer. Without it, it's harder to stay in touch with the customer and it's easy for small manufacturers to loose sight of their target market.
How can you get that kind of insight? Hire your customer. JUGS Sports employs past and present coaches and athletes, with years of experience on the field. They're the customers. This practical experience enables JUGS to stay attuned to the needs of athletes. For example, the uncertainty of online purchases decreases because the products are vetted by JUGS core market: players and coaches themselves. JUGS employees are its own big data solutions. "We believe combining the smarts of our coaches and athletes in-house has allowed us to develop unique products specialized for our customer," said Butch Paulson, president of JUGS Sports.
- Knowing Your Competitive Advantage. Create barriers to entry by continually innovating durable products for your customer they can't find anywhere else. Over 45 years, JUGS has sought ways to make its products stand out. It recently received national acclaim for its work in innovation: At the 2016 American Baseball Coaches Association convention, the JUGS Changeup Baseball Pitching Machine, designed to go from fastball to changeup at a touch of a button, won the Convention's Annual Best of Show.
And of course, those barriers must be built with the intent to protect your secret sauce. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, in its article that explored technology and sporting goods, technology is the name of the game – the key formula driving the development of sophisticated new products.
- Limiting your SKUs. Market specialization enables small manufacturers to focus on what they do best. Being strategic about your line depth and line consistency can make it easier for your customer to navigate multiple channels. Manufacturers are also able to avoid the forecasting of unproven or unrelated products, simplifying the supply chain and focusing on the inputs of their best-selling items. JUGS is committed to depth in its product line.
Whether you are a small manufacturer distributing regionally or internationally, the retail industry will continue to evolve, and how best to reach your customer will require you to continually assess your company's talent; protect what's unique to you; and discover your sweet spot in the marketplace.
Since 1971, JUGS Sports has been the #1 selling pitching machine company in the world. For more information, visit www.jugssports.com
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SOURCE JUGS Sports