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Through our extensive experience in order fulfilment, we have seen a monumental rise in online retail in the fitness industry. Products such as protein powders, treadmills, weights, and yoga equipment are increasingly being ordered, shipped, and delivered to global customers prioritising fitness and healthy lifestyles.
The expansion of the online fitness industry, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, has meant it is an increasingly competitive market. With brands vying for customers' attention, many have increased emphasis on ensuring that their customer service is market-leading and to the consumer's expectations. A significant focus for brands to elevate their customer experience is order fulfilment. Effective product fulfilment means a customer's order is stored, shipped, and delivered to the highest standard.
In this guide, we will explore the rise of the global fitness industry, what this has meant for product fulfilment expectations, and why using a 3PL order fulfilment provider could benefit your fitness brand.
The Rise in Popularity of the Fitness Industry
It is no secret that the fitness industry is booming. According to Statista, the global fitness industry was worth $96.7 billion in 2022. Its increasing popularity means it is expected to grow by around $35.2 billion by 2028, bringing it to an incredible total of $131.9 billion.
Brands such as ASICS, Decathlon, and Under Armour have led this revolution and amassed huge customer bases selling fitness products to consumers worldwide. Not many brands, however, highlight the extraordinary rise of the fitness industry and the opportunities for success and growth like UK-based Gymshark. It started in 2012 by two school friends supplying bodybuilding supplements through its website. Eight years later, in 2020, the company was valued at over $1 billion.
This sensational rise has been driven by several factors, including:
- Health benefits - The increased awareness of physical activity can boost self-esteem, sleep quality, energy, and mood and reduce the risk of clinical depression, Alzheimer's disease, and stress.
- The growing popularity of fitness-related products and technologies - Wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches can track a user's activity levels, heart rate, and sleep patterns. In addition, fitness products such as protein shakes and yoga equipment are highly desirable.
- The rise of online fitness courses and programs - The Covid-19 pandemic kept people out of the gyms and stuck in their homes. This led to personal trainers providing courses online so people could keep fit. This led to the online fitness market being worth $14.9 billion in 2022.
- Fitness as a social activity - Fitness sessions and classes of all varieties have become an activity where people can socialise and use the support of others to stay motivated and make health and fitness part of their lifestyle.
- Social media and the rise of fitness influencers - There is a growing community of fitness influencers on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok. Influences provide online fitness classes, diet plans, and health tips and can reach millions of users.
Fitness eCommerce touches virtually every area of the industry, from physical goods to virtual experiences. Brands that can find their niche, build a loyal customer base, and meet these growing demands are well poised for exceptional growth, now and well into the future.
This incredible rise of the fitness industry means that the demand for fitness products and supplements, such as protein powders, clothing, fitness trackers and watches, and gym equipment, is expected to continue for many years to come. Therefore, businesses within the sector must be best placed to capitalise on this boom to drive their success and growth.
One area which is vital to remaining competitive and maximising performance is providing an exceptional customer experience. One significant method of doing this is order fulfilment. The more the industry grows and new products are developed, the more pressure there is on brands to ensure that products are stored, shipped, and delivered to customers to the highest standard. Without effective product fulfilment services, your brand will soon fall behind the competition and develop a negative customer reputation.
Benefits of 3PL Order Fulfilment to Online Fitness Stores
Order fulfilment services for fitness brands go through the entire process, from storing and tracking inventory to managing the full lifecycle of product orders. Rather than a business having to spend time and money doing everything in-house, a third-party logistics (3PL) partner can take control of your process and provide expertise to ensure it sets you apart from your competitors in meeting customer expectations. Let's take a closer at the benefits of using a 3PL provider.
Customer Satisfaction and Reputation
With the growth of the fitness industry comes extra competition for businesses. When the competition increases, so do customer expectations. With sector giants such as Gymshark and My Protein setting the bar by offering next-day delivery, businesses to compete within the sector must also offer a quick and efficient delivery service.
Not meeting delivery expectations can quickly lead to customer dissatisfaction and lost profits. For example, suppose a customer orders a fitness product, which takes weeks to arrive. In that case, this will likely lead to frustration, causing them to cancel their order and purchase the product from a competitor.
Negative customer experiences can lead to a damaged business reputation. In an already crowded market and the ability to share opinions on social media and accessibility to review platforms such as Trustpilot, an adverse reputation can be fatal to a business's success and ability to attract new customers who may be put off by feedback from previously dissatisfied customers.
Businesses in the fitness industry are subject to several regulations, including many related to shipping and handling. A company that does not comply with these regulations could face penalties or fines. Third-party order fulfilment firms can provide expertise in complying with various shipping and handling regulations.
Compliance around shipping and handling can get rather complicated for businesses to do alone. This is particularly true if you sell your fitness products abroad, as you must ensure you comply with the rules of that particular country, for example, if tax is needed to be paid on shipments.
This is why many companies choose to use third-party order fulfilment companies, as they are experts in what can be a complex area and can guarantee that your fitness products are stored, handled, and shipped in accordance with regulations both locally and internationally.
Supports Scalability and Seasonal Demands
Fitness brands often experience fluctuations in demand based on seasonal trends, promotional campaigns, or product launches. For example, many people set fitness goals as part of their New Year's resolutions and look to online brands for their fitness equipment and supplements.
A 3PL order fulfilment brand offers scalability, allowing your business to handle increased orders during peak periods without significant investments in warehouse space or additional staff. They have access to resources such as additional warehouse space, expert personnel, and equipment that can help them adapt and handle these fluctuations in demand. This ensures that your fitness brand can fulfil orders efficiently, maintain inventory levels, and meet customer demands during peak periods, minimising the risk of stockouts or delayed shipments.
Increases Geographical Reach
Brands like Peloton and Lululemon have shown the potential for fitness businesses to go global and reach new markets worldwide. If you plan to expand your customer base to different regions across the country or even internationally, partnering with a 3PL with a widespread network of fulfilment centres can be hugely beneficial.
A 3PL's network of strategically located fulfilment centres enables your business to position inventory closer to end customers, reducing transit times and shipping costs. Proving faster and more cost-effective shipping will improve customer satisfaction and give you a competitive advantage in global markets.
Focus on Core Business
By outsourcing to a 3PL, your brand can focus on its core competencies, such as product development, marketing, and customer engagement. As a 3PL takes care of the operational aspects of warehousing, order fulfilment, and shipping, you can shift your resources and attention to areas that drive growth and differentiate your brand from your competitors.
Climate Controlled Storage and Shipments
Many fitness products and supplements, such as protein shakes, must be stored and shipped in climate-controlled environments. In business, especially in an uber-competitive market, every penny counts. Therefore, it is vitally important that products remain in the correct conditions at all times, as it is highly frustrating to lose quality products due to shipping or storage errors.
A 3PL firm has the facilities and expertise to understand and provide the specific conditions your products need to remain safe. They will ensure that your materials and products are kept in these conditions right through the order fulfilment process, ensuring that customers receive their products to the standard they expect.
One key focus for any business is reducing costs in all aspects of their operations. Engaging with a 3PL can improve cost efficiency and save money in several ways, including:
- Staffing costs - Managing your own warehouse and product fulfilment operations requires hiring and training staff, managing schedules, and providing employee benefits. These costs can add up quickly. When you use a 3PL, they have the experts already in place to carry out the storage and shipping of your fitness products, meaning you avoid unnecessary costs from employing and training staff.
- Shipping and Carrier Negotiations - 3PLs often have established relationships with shipping carriers and leverage this to negotiate discounted rates, helping you to reduce your shipping costs. Their expertise in logistics also allows them to select the most cost-effective shipping methods and optimised shipping routes, further lowering transportation expenses.
- Reduced Errors and Returns - In such a competitive industry where customers have a vast amount of choices of where to purchase their products, it is imperative that orders are accurate and of the required quality. 3pls have established processes and quality control measures in place to ensure accurate picking, packing, and shipping. By leveraging their expertise, you can reduce errors, such as shipping the wrong product products, damaging goods during shipment, or incorrect quantities, leading to few returns and associated costs.
- Operating costs -Running an efficient warehouse and product fulfilment operation requires ongoing costs, including utilities, maintenance, insurance, and security. When you work with a 3PL, the costs of the day-to-day running of a warehouse and shipping products are included in the service agreement.
The fitness industry continues to grow worldwide due to people's increased focus on their health, the availability of online classes, the increasing amount of physical gyms in local areas, and the influence of social media personalities. With this rise is the extraordinary demand for fitness products, from protein shakes to Peloton bikes. For online fitness brands to compete in an incredibly competitive market, they must build a reputation for providing an elevated customer experience and order fulfilment service.
An effective product fulfilment service is vital to building a loyal customer base, scaling your brand to fluctuating periods of demand, growing regionally and internationally, quality control, and saving money. Whilst this can be done internally, a 3PL order fulfilment provider will provide dedicated expert support to ensure high standards are kept and allow you to concentrate on what's important: growing and developing your business.
Ready for your Online Fitness Store to Use 3PL Order Fulfilment?
With the boom in the fitness industries expected to continue well into the future, your brand needs to capitalise on this trend and ensure you are best placed to grow and expand your business into new markets and customer bases. One of the most significant ways to do this is by providing an exceptional customer experience, which effective order fulfilment is the foundation of.
At Core Fulfilment, we are committed to serving your customers better. We support businesses of all sizes, and our inventory management solutions will help you grow and scale your eCommerce business. Contact us today for more information.
We look forward to starting our order fulfilment journey together.