The University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas has long been recognized for its successful and innovative pro shop performance, which has grown to include a robust online presence during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
By Kayli Lopez • Casita/Online Store Manager
The University of Texas Golf Club, Austin, Texas
The COVID-19 pandemic may have provided a boon to rounds played at golf clubs across the country, but clubs’ pro shops—like many dining options—were saddled with requirements for limited or no occupancy. That meant clubs had to find new and creative ways to move merchandise—and now, with the fall and spring buying seasons disrupted, they are being forced to shift on the fly once again.
Kayli Lopez has been in her position at The UT Golf Club, which has long been recognized for its successful and innovative pro shop performance, for five years. But 2020 has been unlike anything she’s experienced. Here are her thoughts about the additional challenges her shop has faced this year and how the club has responded to keep its loyal patrons fully outfitted, Longhorn-style.
How have sales at the UT Golf Club been impacted in the immediate wake of the pandemic and subsequent safety precautions?
As in-person sales declined, our online sales increased! We saw around a 20% increase of online visitors in March when stores were forced to shut down, and then about a 30% increase in May. The number of visits to our site has continued to rise each month, as an option to safely shop from home.
How did you initially address the decline of in-person traffic?
We promoted to our members the option of shopping online in conjunction with curbside pick-up, as the safest options.
Online sales are still fairly uncommon in the club industry; what’s been your thought process in emphasizing them?
As the University of Texas has alumni all over the U.S., we knew we had to promote online to garner the attention of our nationwide network. And in this pandemic, you have no choice but to reach your audience through online promotion.
What are the most effective ways to increase online traffic?
We are in a new age where information travels faster than wildfire. On top of increasing our digital presence, we also have great members who are out there representing and promoting our brand by word of mouth. We have also established a presence on social media through which we enjoy sharing our content with all of our followers and fans. They get to keep up with what’s new, along with restocks as soon as they drop. We send a weekly newsletter and e-blast to our members with any and all updates, to ensure our network base is most informed. You can follow us on @shop.utgolfclub & @utgolfclub.
Do you offer online exclusives?
While we do have a few items that we carry both in-store and online, we offer exclusives in both realms from time to time, favoring both types of clientele.
How are you striving to increase in-person traffic?
We continuously update our pro shop with fresh merchandise so our members always have new items to pick up. On top of this, our golf tournament and club events tend to draw the social members to the club. Everyone knows where to get the hot gifts!
In the absence of in-person shows, how do you plan to keep up with the latest products that are being introduced?
We are proud to work closely with our reps; we’ve had to rely heavily on them during the past few months and plan to continue to do so. We’re always looking for the next big items in each area.
What other advice would you offer to clubs looking to bolster their pro shop sales?
Listen to your crowd and keep your eyes peeled for what’s new to come. It’s best to be ahead of the curve if you want to build your network and increase traffic.
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