Tag Archives: distribution

Experience Sports in the Store

Ever go shopping for athletic gear and get frustrated that you can’t try it out fully? Curious about how that bat swings? Or if that driver will help you hit a clean line? Want a quick run around the track while you wait for friends to finish on the climbing wall? You’re in luck if you go to one of the new Dick’s Sporting Goods concept stores – House of Sports.

Going to a sports gear store just got a little more interactive. Working to lure customers back to the store and linger awhile, the new Dick’s stores offer a 20,000-square-foot outdoor turf field and running track, rock climbing wall, batting cages, hitting bays, and golf simulations.

Dick’s isn’t the only company getting into experiential stores. Bauer Hockey, a leader in hockey gear, has stores with a full-sized ice rink. And, North Dakota-based Scheels sporting goods has a superstore with a saltwater aquarium, mini-hockey rink, coffee shop, candy store, archery lanes, and indoor Ferris wheel. And, let’s not forget about the Canada Good store in Mall of America that has a cold room for trying out gear in temperatures as low as minus-13 degrees (a typical Minnesota winter).

Many sporting goods stores saw increased sales during the pandemic. And with increased customers, increased experiences for customers followed. These enhanced experiences – a type of experiential marketing – are designed to immerse customers with a product. Not just see it or touch it, but actually experience something physically.

Who wants to go play at the store?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where do they buy athletic gear? Why there?
  2. Discuss the changing customer experiences in retail.
  3. Discuss experiential marketing and how it involves the customer.
  4. Show House of Sports site: https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/s/houseofsport
  5. Scheels Web site: https://www.scheels.com/stores/minnesota/eden-prairie/features/eden-prairie-attractions-entertainment.html
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a retailer they like. Then, have each team design how to incorporate experiential marketing into the store.

Sources:  Norfleet, N. (17 March 2022). ‘House of Sport’ goes beyond shopping. Minneapolis Star Tribune.  

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Electric Bikes Take Off

The pandemic created a great deal of pain and turmoil for people as they worried about health and jobs. And, people made a lot of adjustments in their daily lives during, and now after, the pandemic. There have been supply chain disruptions in all industries, making it hard to get inventory to the customer.

Despite all the strain, one of the positive impacts in the past two years has been the uptick in sales of electric-bikes. In 2021, more than 880,000 e-bikes were sold, far surpassing the units sold of electric cars and trucks (at 608,000). Industry experts predict that more than one million e-bikes will be sold in the U.S. in 2022.

And why not. E-bikes are easy to use and greatly increase the speed of regular bike trips. No more huffing and puffing up a hill, only to arrive sweaty at a destination. And instead of driving, the e-cargo bikes can make the trip and haul groceries as well as the kids. Finally, let’s not forget about rising gas prices! (The more expensive gas gets, the better my e-bike looks.)

Many new e-bike firms are taking to the road by selling only online. However, buying online has one big flaw – the inability to touch and test the product before buying. There are plenty of testimonials and videos, but nothing beats actually experiencing an e-bike.

One solution from Belgian e-bike company Cowboy, is to take the bikes to the prospective customer. In ten cities in the U.S., prospects can request Cowboy ‘ambassadors’ to bring the bikes to them for a trial ride. A similar approach is being used by Rad Power Bikes. In addition to several stores, pop-up events and test rides bring the e-bikes to more places. Pedego e-bikes uses a different model and has more than 200 distributors where riders can try the e-bikes before they buy.

Ready to ride?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Have they ridden electric bikes? Where and how?
  2. View Cowboy bikes: https://us.cowboy.com/
  3. View Rad Power bikes: https://www.radpowerbikes.com/
  4. View Pedego bikes: https://pedegoelectricbikes.com/
  5. In order to be successful, companies must be able to physically get a product into the hands of the customers. Discuss how a distribution channel works.
  6. For Internet-based e-bike companies, what distribution channels are used now?
  7. How can the channel be expanded? What approach could be used?
  8. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a flow chart for the distribution of the product.

Sources:  Boudway, I. (18 April 2022). E-bike online startup lets you ride before you buy.  Bloomberg News.; Hurford, M. (27 April 2022). New research shows that e-bikes are outpacing electric car sales in the U.S. Bicycling.com.

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Drone’s Place in the Supply Chain

How long have we been writing about drones? Probably around 10 years or so, and we are still asking “Where are they?” It’s been quite a while and drones from companies such as Google, Amazon, Zipline, UPS, and more have evolved in shape, size, and scope, but they are all still vying for attention and deliveries.

Well, perhaps delivery drones are finally ready to take-off (and land). A number of companies have been testing drones around the nation and the globe, and a handful are ready for commercial operations in the U.S. at last.

Among the contenders are company Zipline, which is now working on deliveries for Walmart and has delivered medical products for years in Ghana and Rwanda ; Flytrex, from Israel, is focused on local food delivery, and Wing (from Alphabet) has increased deliveries of medical supplies due to the pandemic. And of course, there is always Amazon waiting in the wings to launch its drone delivery services to millions of consumers!

Why the interest in drones to deliver products? Speedier deliveries for one, plus lower transportation emissions, less traffic, and that ever-elusive instant gratification! Many companies see it as solving the “last-mile” delivery problem. However, the use of drones still faces in-depth examination and regulation from the FAA. Because drones are an unknown  commodity and can operate autonomously, regulations are needed to prevent accidents or over-crowding in the skies over densely populated areas.

Drones themselves come in different shapes and sizes. Zipline has logged millions of miles of flights for commercial deliveries in Rwanda and Ghana. It is now teaming with Walmart and testing deliveries in Arkansas. Zipline drones are 11-feet wide, fixed-wing drones that launch from a steel rail and land using a hook to grab a wire.

Flytrex from Israel has been making deliveries for Walmart as well. It is also in partnership with Brinker International to deliver food to local restaurants. It’s drones look like the ones hobbyists use and can carry six pounds (or 33 chicken wings).

Amazon has lately been more secretive than when it first announced its intention to use drones a decade ago. However, the company plans to operate 145 drone stations and deliver 500 million packages within a year. It uses a more radical design with hexagonal wings and onboard systems for detecting obstacles. To deliver, it flies a few feet from the ground and drops packages.

Wing has yet another design. It’s drones are made from carbon fiber and injected-foam, weigh only 10 points, and lowers a hook to pick up and deliver packages.

What do you see in the sky?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students about drones. What are the opportunities? The threats?
  2. What are their opinions about deliveries to their homes via drones?
  3. Bring up companies’ websites and show videos from each:
    1. Zipline: https://flyzipline.com/
    1. Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Prime-Air/b?ie=UTF8&node=8037720011
    1. Flytrex: https://www.flytrex.com/
    1. Wing: https://wing.com/
  4. What are advantages and disadvantages of each company?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team do an environmental analysis for drones: technology forces, social forces, economic forces, competition, and laws/regulations.
  6. How is each company poised to address the opportunities and threats?

Source:  Mims, C. (2 April 2022). Amazon, Alphabet, and others are quietly rolling out drone delivery across America. Wall Street Journal.

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