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Q&A: Prelli Tennis serves up an online retail offering

Prelli Tennis is a traditional bricks-and-mortar tennis retailer that in the past few years has expanded into online retail using a SecurePay payment solution. Marketing Manager Rick Presutto talks about how the business has adapted to making the move to online sales.

When it comes to tennis gear, Prelli Tennis’s passionate staff are experts in their field. Since 1983 the Collingwood-based company has been providing tennis racquets and equipment to players of all levels, from absolute beginners to the pros. Now it has an extra sales channel in the form of its website.

With more than 30 years’ experience stringing and servicing racquets, Prelli Tennis strings at the Australian Open and other major tournaments around the world and has provided stringing services for world-class players, including Novak Djokovic, Pat Rafter, Mark Philippoussis, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, among others.

In the past couple of years Prelli Tennis has launched, where it showcases and sells a range of tennis products, including racquets, shoes, balls and racquet bags.

Rick Presutto, Prelli Tennis’s Marketing Manager, explains how the traditionally bricks-and-mortar business has integrated online sales into its broader business plan, and what it has learnt along the way.

When did Prelli Tennis start selling online?

“The store has been around for 31 years, but we launched the online store just a couple of years ago – it’s still pretty new. We haven’t put a huge amount of effort into SEO or Google AdWords, but we’re … getting a new site built at the moment that will be done soon. The first site we had built was a custom-designed platform, but it’s not really upgradable and not very user-friendly. The new one is going to be a bit easier to use and will have more features, and then hopefully we can use that to see more online growth.”

What methods do you use to market to customers online?

“Mainly with emails through MailChimp, which hosts our online database. Social media is the other big one – mostly Facebook and Twitter.”

What are some of your most popular products?

“Racquets and footwear. People really want to come in and get what their favourite players are using. The three most popular players are probably Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.”

What are some of the challenges of selling sports equipment and clothing online?

“For sporting goods, you really need to see and try a racquet before you buy it, so we actually find more of our customers look at the products online and then come into the shop to buy it, rather than buying directly online. The website is really more useful to us as an online catalogue rather than an online store. But it definitely has brought more traffic into the shop.”

What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned about online retail?

“The biggest lessons are to do with the way our first website was set up – we could have done things a bit differently. That’s why we’re excited about our new one, and when it’s ready we’ll do a lot more with SEO. The new website has been about three months in development and it’s nearing completion now – it’s been quite a quick and smooth process.”

The Australian Open must be a busy time for you – how do you cope with the extra demand?

“January, February and March is a big time of the year for us. Everyone sees the tennis on television and wants to pick up the sport again, so we get a lot more customers coming through that time of the year. We really have to be prepared to handle a lot more business coming through. We get through it day by day – we’re all here, everybody pulls together and works hard and we get through it.”

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