Abstract / Resumen
Sports in general, but also specifically how we are active in sports, has changed significantly over the last two years. Since the start of the pandemic, millions of people have been confined to their homes, without the usual possibilities of leaving home, going out on the street or getting involved in common sports practices at gyms and the like. So, many people discovered new ways to stay fit at home, thereby creating numerous opportunities for businesses wishing to import sports equipment of all kinds.
A simple walk (or jogging session) out on the street will show us that many citizens are active now, particularly first thing in the morning or, especially, during the weekends, in all kinds of sports activities in which they weren’t involved at all before the pandemic hit our day-to-day lives.
As pretty much any trend nowadays, also in these new ways the use of apps on our smartphones have become the new normal; in fact, the downloading of health and well-being related apps has increased by 40% during the pandemic, especially in countries like Italy, Spain and France.
This new trend has not only affected those who already had a healthy habit of regularly doing sports, but it actually specifically involved many people who tended to be more ‘sedentary’ in their lifestyle and who now also ‘got out of the sofa’ and started doing sports anywhere.
In this context, businesses focused on sports and fitness equipment have a great opportunity in this niche market: beyond their usual customer segments, there is a new target market where people have decided to take better care of their health and get in shape, even at home; and they need equipment, often even very basic types of equipment. Therefore, importing sports and fitness materials is a fantastic business opportunity and will surely remain so in the coming years.
Bye, bye, gym! Hello, sports from home or in the open air!
Without doubt, so far, the gym industry is one of the most affected by the pandemic. In fact, until the middle of 2021, statistics indicate a loss of turnover of nearly 64%.
But the trouble for gyms goes well beyond the loss of turnover due to pandemic-related restrictions. The difficulty comes from the fact that many of those regular users who stopped going to the gym won’t come back, since they focus more on social media and apps in order to get in shape at home or in the open air, allowing them to save time and, of course, money.
This change of ‘scenery’ directly also affects the purchase of sports materials, due to two main reasons: on the one hand, those people who used to pay a monthly gym fee, now have more funds available for equipment; on the other hand, there is an entire new segment of sports practitioners who are totally new to this market.
Data confirm the above and although for now the most recent figures are for 2020, this new trend is becoming very visible. Although most winter sports brands have lost turnover, the overall sports equipment industry has seen a rise of 11% for 2020, specifically in anything related to fitness, cycling and outdoor in general.
Main tips for importing sports equipment
The process of importing sports equipment from China or any other Asian country is actually quite similar to any import process, although obviously the differential characteristics of the products involved will be relevant for the steps to be followed.
In the first place, we need to be sure about which products to import and what are their specifications or characteristics. Among the most commonly imported sports goods we can see the following articles:
- Resistance bands and straps
- Yoga mats
- Sports outfits
- Indoor and outdoor gym equipment
- Nutritional supplements
Once we know which products we want to import (and what are their characteristics), we can move on to one of the main phases: selecting a supplier for our import process for sports equipment, making sure they comply with all safety and labelling standards.
As in any kind of import process, quality inspections are crucial, but it is additionally worthwhile to remember that, in this case, the use of sports equipment may directly affect the safety and well-being of the customers, which is why we recommend you to focus on additional, voluntary quality inspections.
In terms of the final phase of the import process – logistics and transport – this has to be well planned and we should take into account that some of the products involved may be very large in size, making it more complex and expensive in terms of logistics management.
Do you need help when importing sports equipment?
The difficulties one may encounter when importing sports and fitness equipment depend, as is usual, very much on the experience the buyer has, although the specific characteristics of these products may add even more complexity to some of the above-mentioned steps.
For this reason, counting on the services of a sourcing partner, who can help your company in part of the import process (e.g., supplier selection, quality control, logistics, etc.), is key for the whole operation to be a success.
At S3 Group we have accumulated over 15 years of experience, specialized in importing products from China and other Asian countries. This experience in international purchasing, or sourcing, has allowed our customers to have more profitable – and healthy – businesses, which they value now more than ever.