One year on from the UEFA European Championship, football leagues across the world have now come to a climatic end for summer. However, for sport retailers there’s no room for respite, as attention turned to the Nations League and UEFA Women’s EURO, before the 2022/23 season begins, and the excitement for the 2022 World Cup starts.
Football is well known to be the most popular sport in the world, with around 4 billion fans worldwide, and major international tournaments now taking place almost every year. For retailers within the sports industry, this provides a huge opportunity to expand their business and reach new audiences on a global scale. However, with big demand, comes big competition, and for independent retailers it can be hard to make an impression on the international stage.
UK Soccer Shop was set up in 2002 with a business plan to provide the biggest range of football shirts available to buy online. It’s founder, Simon Pretswell, initially had no intention of it being anything more than a side project, however, as football in the UK continued to grow in popularity thanks to the simplified access to live games on TV, and consumers became more experienced in the ecommerce world, UK Soccer Shop started to grow.
The business is now performing extremely well in the UK, and compared to its competitors it has one unique selling point – personalisation. The retailer is able to print any name and number on any shirt, helping them to stand out from the competition. This gave UK Soccer Shop a fantastic opportunity to join the international market. But by growing its audience, Pretswell and his team also faced new challenges.
Pretswell believes the toughest challenge is stock preparation. “Predicting stock levels is an ongoing and permanent challenge. All stock is pre-ordered far in advance, so we are vulnerable to unexpected transfers. Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona, for example, led to a huge reduction in their sales, as well as a massive spike in demand for PSG jerseys, which nobody in the industry was prepared for. Aside from Christmas, our peak trading is during the World Cup & Euros. Again, all stock is ordered in advance with no scope to increase stock so there is a huge amount of guesswork involved. A big nation going out early is disastrous.”
To support the UK Soccer Shop with this growing demand, the retailer joined online marketplace Fruugo. By joining Fruugo, UK Soccer Shop was given access to over forty new markets, which massively helped the business prepare for any unexpected product demand due to shifts within the football industry.
“Given the nature of our business, sourcing shirts from all over the world, joining Fruugo has been very helpful in helping us mitigate risk. For example, if we buy in a shirt for a French team, and it doesn’t sell as expected on our website, having access to Fruugo’s French market helps us get fantastic sales results whilst solving the problem of excess stock.”
Fruugo also gave UK Soccer Shop access to several seller benefits to help provide a smooth cross-border transaction, one of which being product translation. Fruugo will translate seller product details, convert currency and provide localised international customer service, helping retailers provide product transactions swiftly and smoothly. “Fruugo’s translation service has been invaluable to allow us to enter new markets whilst providing a hassle free, risk free service.”
By selling on Fruugo, UK Soccer Shop is provided a dedicated account manager who is able to support businesses with any advice or issues that arise. When UK Soccer Shop faces any unexpected stock issues, Pretswell is able to discuss the situation directly with Fruugo, and find a solution. “Fruugo adopts a seller first policy, which is absolutely not the case with some of its more well known competitors. If we ever have a problem or suggestion, we were able to speak to our account manager. If we have an idea to increase sales, we can run it through with them. It gives us a lot more confidence in the platform and as a result, we focus more of our energy with Fruugo.”
UK Soccer Shop is also able to benefit from Fruugo’s own positive performance, as seen before the 2022 Champions League final, in which searches for football shirts increased by 16% in May compared to the same timeframe in April. With the UEFA Women’s EURO a big hit, the 2022/23 season and 2022 World Cup all to come, UK Soccer Shop will only continue to benefit from these key footballing dates on an international scale.
Since joining Fruugo, UK Soccer Shop has gone from strength to strength, and by having access to new markets, new data, and dedicated support from Fruugo, Pretswell and the team could focus their own marketing efforts into building their business worldwide, which has seen a year on year growth since they began selling on the marketplace – and Pretswell has no plans of slowing down.
“We are constantly developing our product ranges and trying to continue to expand the range of shirts we provide. We are also moving into the vintage shirt market, as this is a booming sector which is continuing to increase in popularity and value.”
To help achieve these goals, UK Soccer Shop will continue to sell on Fruugo, to ensure they have access to new, growing and build on the positive relationship with their dedicated Fruugo advisor. “The expertise provided by such an experienced, seller centric marketplace should not be underestimated for even an experienced eCommerce seller. I have been doing this for 20 years and there will be few people with more experience, but the eCommerce world is changing at an ever-increasing pace.”