One of the most challenging industries for a supply chain within the Lifestyle industry is Sports & Outdoors given some particularities that drive its business model: seasonality and the technology adapted to each sport.

How is seasonality challenging supply chain planning?

Seasonality in sports can be understood in different ways; there are the seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, and autumn but there are also the different annual competition seasons that differ depending on the sport and the country. Therefore, sports brands must be ready all year around, adapting their collections to the different seasons and adapting them to ever changing elements, like the beginning of the seasons, playoffs, finals, local and international tournaments, friendly matches, unofficial cups, etc.

Professional athletes are constantly trying new outfits and are regularly changing equipment, which results in new sports trends and demands among the fans. For example, if Cristiano Ronaldo changes his soccer boots, the market will request them immediately. If brands can react and cover this demand quickly, it is possible to take advantage of the momentum and remain at the top of the consumer’s mind.

Amateur athletes and those practicing a sport leisurely have an impact on trends: they want to practice their favourite sport all year long, no matter the weather conditions. Even if the sport is the same, different outfits will be required depending on climate, location, and seasons of the year.

Including “demand sensing” in a brand’s supply chain planning and strategy allows them to anticipate consumer trends and pivot quickly to meet market demand each time an athlete breaks a new record or creates a new trend.

Brand’s main challenges in this is ensuring that they can reach the end-user in timely fashion or else they stand to lose the momentum of the trend. This can only be achieved with a perfectly designed and structured end-to-end supply chain solution with the right technology so they can detect any change in consumer behaviour and adapt the logistic flow accordingly. This is what will give brands a competitive advantage with the end-user, improving their positioning when it comes to sponsorship activities.

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man running in sports clothing

Technology adapted to each sport, the second challenge

The sports industry is constantly evolving. New specialities appear, new star athletes emerge, or new trends become apparent (think of #workout from home trend, which appeared during the pandemic), compelling sports retailers and manufacturers to create new products.

In many cases, products are not launched globally at once, but rather, debuted in more mature markets first. However, thanks to social media, digital platforms and influencers have democratised the process, making products visible everywhere. No longer are consumers only affect by the commercialisation strategy. They are now able to purchase products immediately, thanks to global online retailers.

Whilst this strategy may have been favourable before, with hopes of avoiding inventory excess and being forced to sell off the products at the end of each season, what if it were possible to supply the demand with more accuracy in each market in real-time? What if it were possible to react to changing consumer behaviour in real time? This would ensure an optimised inventory management and at the same time the right infrastructure in positioning in each of the markets.

woman buying sports shoes

Integrated logistics and solutions: the best option for sports & outdoor brands

Making these logistic solutions come true requires moving goods with higher accuracy; there will need to be a single information platform that can detect consumer patterns in each market and develop a connected end-to-end logistic process to react to changes in real-time.

Imagine this example

  • Goods are shipped from country of origin
  • Marketing and advertising campaigns start to promote the new products
  • Demand is tracked through technology so consumer trends can be detected in the different markets
  • Goods are redirected to each country while in transit based off of consumer interests in each of market (Hub in transit)
  • Market demand is covered with more accuracy and agility

This example represents the perfect combination between logistic infrastructure, demand sensing and an end-to-end supply chain solution and visibility that can only be achieved with a 100% integrated and simplified supply chain that connects all the players.

Sports and outdoors brands need to find the perfect partner who can create integrated supply chain solutions to meet the demand in real-time, across all markets.

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