How Golf Town sustained a month-long Black Friday

The retailer has shifted its budget to make social and live streaming trigger shopping behaviour, a strategy it is continuing through the rest of the holidays.

Golf-Town 1

Golf Town is one of the many retailers that started its Black Friday promotions and deals roughly three weeks in advance to help manage store traffic and make up for lost in-store sales with more deals, as a result of the pandemic.

But it wasn’t enough to simply extend a promotional period: the retailer also had to make sure it sustained interest throughout the month.

Luckily, November aligned with an unseasonal uptick in conversations around golf. The Masters, one of the game’s biggest tournaments, was held from Nov. 12 to 15 after being postponed in April due to the pandemic. According to Frederick LeCoq, CMO of Golf Town parent company Sporting Life, that led to a lot of consumer engagement and conversation around the game and golf gear in recent weeks.

Golf Town entered into the conversation by posting clips and match updates from the tournament on its social media channels. It was also an opportunity to prime Golf Town consumers by promoting items relevant to conversations that were happening, such as a wedge with the floral pattern of flowers found at Augusta National.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 11.42.03 AM

LeCoq describes its approach to holiday promotions as a series of “promo drops” over four weeks, as opposed to one “promo carpet bombing” the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“[The] objective was to flatten the traffic curve and spread sales over more than 20 days.” He adds that this is likely an approach many retailers will take again for Boxing Day.

The approach to the Masters is also an example of a perspective shift from ecommerce to “discovery commerce” – inviting consumers to discover products and brands where they are, LeCoq says. While that may have been on the course or in the clubhouse in another year, right now, Golf Town’s customer is mostly on social.

“Discovery commerce is a step further than ecommerce and turns our social media into an extension of our websites,” he says. “Our social media channels should act as a shopping trigger, an invitation for new customers to engage with us.”

Another example of this is a livestream shopping party that’s part of its “Give The Gift of Golf” holiday campaign. Influencer Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk will livestream from a Calgary Golf Town, letting customers connect with her over social channels while she’s shopping.

The shopping party will be streamed on Facebook Live, but LeCoq says Golf Town is also finalizing the implementation of its own shoppable live streaming solution, which the retailer will use to connect shoppers with staff to replicate the in-store shopping experience through their web browser.

LeCoq says the pandemic has put “a lot of pressure” on Golf Town’s sales and it felt there “was very little chance” it could achieve the same sales with foot traffic being down, some stores being closed and other locations maxed at 25% capacity.

As a result, Golf Town made some technological pivots and investments to support its online business, where consumers have come to expect same or next-day delivery. That includes improving its servers, using its stores as fulfillment centres for click-and-collect and curbside pickup orders and finding a last mile delivery solution to support its existing delivery solution, which LeCoq says seemed to have reached its “max capacity.” Staff in closed stores have also been re-deployed to support online business.

“Their understanding of how people shop in physical stores is precious when trying to bring this to life in your webstore or helping with customer service,” LeCoq says. “This year more than ever retail, operational excellence is key – or should I say, omnichannel operational excellence.”

On the marketing front, it has shifted its marketing budget to channels that will help drive online conversion instead of in-store visits. It has been emphasizing more products as being “online only,” which, for the holidays, is being positioned as a way to make gifting easy and fun in a year when LeCoq expects golf gear to be in high demand, due to the number of new players that have picked up the game this year.

“We’re in a read and react mode. As customers are shifting their behaviour towards more online buying, we need to redeploy our marketing touchpoints.”