The Challenges of E-Commerce for Sporting Goods Retailers
Ten billion dollars. That was the aggregate spending on sporting goods online in 2015. For several years, the sporting goods industry has been one of the top industries involved in online purchases, according to US Department of Commerce. And there’s no sign of that slowing down. That means sporting goods retailers will be shipping a lot of athletic footwear, exercise equipment, licensed sports merchandise and athletic apparel in the years to come.
Sporting goods retailers will be sending those goods to some of the most finicky customers there are; the young, tech-savvy, and restless members of Gen Y and Gen Z. These consumers want today’s hottest athletic wear and trendiest sneakers. And they want them now. Hence, the expanding role of e-commerce sales in this sector.
The sporting goods industry is one of the most competitive and dynamic industries. Those involved must keep up with constantly changing models of sports equipment, rising competition and consumers who are both cost-sensitive and tech-savvy enough to shop for the best deals. Not to mention the seasonality of the market.
Shipping such high-priced, theft-worthy and sometimes heavy items requires a secure carton. One that can pass through the supply chain intact. One that can protect against the twin hazards of theft and environmental conditions. That’s where water-activated tape comes in.
Let’s take a look at each of these hazards and ways to cope with them:
Theft Thwarted – The lure of getting their hands-on today’s hottest sneakers may be too much to resist for someone in the supply chain. To make sure that hot pair of sneakers makes it to the customer who ordered them online, shippers will need a theft-resistant box. One that can’t be easily opened without leaving evidence. Water-activated packaging tape is tamper-evident and forms a complete bond with the carton itself, allowing for maximum strength and security. Because the adhesive actually bonds to the carton, once someone tries to remove it there is very visible evidence of their attempts.
Supply Chain Endured – Moving from warehouse to truck and hand-to-hand means a carton filled with baseball caps and baseballs needs to be tough. Water-activated tape can be reinforced with fiberglass fibers. These give extra strength to the seal. So, no matter how high those boxes are stacked in the truck or how many times they are exposed to the environment, the tape’s seal holds. It holds through the cold of winter and the humidity of summer. This means the Red Sox fan will get a cap that looks as good on his head in Fenway Park as it did on the retailer’s website.
Heavy Cartons Sealed – Many sporting good items ordered online are heavy. Whether it’s a set of kettle bells for someone’s at home workout or 40 hockey sticks for a varsity hockey team, the pressure put on the box can be significant. When testers stressed cartons sealed with water-activated tape, it took 60 pounds of pressure for the cartons to break. By contrast, when the cartons were sealed with pressure–sensitive tape, it took only 16.8 pounds of pressure to open them. Those were the conclusions of an industry-leading testing and verification company, SGS North America. Intertape Polymer Group (IPG) and its brand, Better Packages, commissioned the tests to help customers compare the performance of water-activated tape and pressure-sensitive tape.
And there’s another benefit for shippers. Water-activated tape offers e-commerce shippers a way to support their brand. In a sector as competitive as athletic wear and equipment, your brand is everything. Why shouldn’t the box that brings those yoga pants promote the brand that brought them to the customer? It can. Water-activated tape can be custom-printed to show off your logo, your slogan, seasonal offerings or even messages that encourage your customers’ fitness journeys. It’s a branding opportunity that many online shippers miss.
The growth of e-commerce in the sports and fitness arena shows no sign of slowing. And chances are you’ll be challenged to meet the demands of these increasingly sophisticated customers in new ways in the coming years. Doesn’t it make sense to seal those orders to protect the excitement and happiness you created them to deliver?
Like to learn more about tape performance and shipping?
Better Packages | Water-Activated Tape Dispensers and Tape
Better Packages offers a complete line of water-activated tape dispensers. Its parent company, Intertape Polymer Group, sells a full line of Central® brand water-activated tape, including reinforced and non-reinforced tape. In addition to providing products for packing stations, the companies help their customers analyze and solve their packing station challenges.
About Better Packages
Founded in 1917, Better Packages is a leading manufacturer of tabletop water-activated tape (WAT) dispensers used in carton sealing. Better Packages’ product line includes auto-dispensing electric machines that are used in high volume fulfillment centers, as well as manual dispensers. In the U.S., Better Packages sells through multiple channels that include industrial and packaging distributors and catalog wholesalers, as well as direct to end-user customers. Its distribution network consists of over 160 authorized distributors including Tier 1 shipping and packaging. Better Packages also has another 50 international distributors that service over 70 countries. Better Packages is a wholly owned subsidiary of Intertape Polymer Group (IPG), an acknowledged leader in the packaging industry. IPG sells a full line of Central® water-activated tape, as well as many other premier packaging products.