What health clubs look for when selling apparel

In the months gearing up to our pilots, we at Ziel spoke to many health clubs about their apparel retail needs. We learned a lot from those clubs and today we'll share a few of our learnings.

All clubs get regular requests from their members for active wear for many different reasons; members want to represent the community, members want to support their club, members want to find something unique and members might have forgotten their outfit.

More than half of the clubs are selling active wear or have tried. But none of them are happy with the situation. We heard stories about hiring expensive graphic designers that did not create beautiful designs, clubs that make a quarterly trip to Kohls and find sweaters on sale and then taking these to a local screen-printer to get a logo on it. Clubs trying to work with large well-known brands that make them buy very high minimum quantities and leave them to price and label the merchandise themselves. Clubs are having a hard time finding beautiful high value quality tanks and leggings that they can personalize to the brand - nobody wants to sell screen printed square cotton T-shirts. Then there are a number of variants of the story where a club with 500 members buys a 1000 tanks of which after months half is left, stocked underneath the detergents in the janitor closet.  

What we learned is that gym members really want to buy their club's gear, but they want high quality gear with something new to browse very regularly. The clubs want something their members will love, represents their brand and is super easy to deal with. Because health club owners already have a lot on their plate with teaching classes, managing trainers and keeping their facility up and running.

Adding retail to an already busy schedule can be too much if you have to go the traditional route of big brands or white labelled goods that are screen-printed. Managing stocks, managing designs, managing e-commerce, managing a screen printer or graphic designer, putting your retail into a point-of-sale system, and training your trainers on selling retail is a lot of work. This added burden is difficult to justify if at the end of the day you are stuck with 500 green t-shirts that have to be marked down to $5 to sell. This does not increase revenue and erodes the clubs' brand equity.

To sum it up, owners and managers of health clubs are juggling many different balls at the same time. Having to deal with many services that are not geared around their needs drains their limited time, money and space leaving clubs to either quit selling apparel all together or continue selling it, but without adding to bottom line revenue.

At Ziel, instead of making the clubs work to make it work, we make it work for the clubs and their members. More on how we exactly do that in the future!