There’s no getting around it — sports gear is expensive. With consumers spending up to 500 dollars or more on full sets of equipment for sports like baseball, lacrosse, golf, and hockey, it’s easy to understand why some athletes can’t afford the hefty price tags at retail stores. Worst of all, prohibitive pricing can push out lower-income kids from certain sports.
Brendan Candon, the CEO of SidelineSwap, is bringing his vision to life: he and his team have created a simple, effective way for sports families cash in on their extra sports gear, and gives those looking for more affordable options a safe and easy way to access equipment. Candon, a former Division 1 athlete and coach, created a bustling online marketplace where athletes at all levels buy and sell their gear. Here are a few ways he has gained so much success.
Increasing Access To Affordable Equipment
The simplest — and possibly most important — strategy Candon follows is creating a platform that fills a need. In fact, SidelineSwap fills multiple needs: athletes who are looking to save money on quality new and used equipment, families who have a pile of old equipment that needs to be sold, and Generation-Z’s preference for social, mobile commerce.
The expense associated with sports equipment and the fact that many parents don’t have room in their budget to buy new gear has created a large group of young athletes needing less expensive options. However, many brick and mortar sporting outlets are struggling due to the popularity of ecommerce for used goods. Many individuals and families don’t buy and sell on outlets like eBay because the platform is dominated by high-volume, professional sellers, and platforms like Craigslist can lack quality assurance.
Candon, seeing this need, created a platform that simply makes it possible for individuals to post and search for used sporting equipment – providing lower prices and a better shopping experience. SidelineSwap avoids outpricing their target market by keeping fees low (9% from the seller after a sale). Sellers receive a pre-paid shipping so all they need to do is print, pack, and ship. And buyers receive a tracking number along with a buyer guarantee that promises the item they ordered or their money back. In doing so, he has set up a strong, financially-sustainable platform that sports consumers find useful.
Keeping Up With The Times
Along with capitalizing on the potential of ecommerce for used sporting goods, Candon keeps up with emerging trends to build a community around SidelineSwap and promote its success.
SidelineSwap’s appeal to youth audiences — 80% of its users are under the age of 22 — is a significant draw for young athletes. For instance, the listing process is closer to posting a picture on social networks like Instagram than to websites like eBay or Craigslist. The site’s image-focused, clean design attracts young users who appreciate the ease of posting and seeing photos of what they’re trying to buy or sell. Uploading pictures and writing descriptions takes only a minute, and its iOS app appeals to the smartphone-wielding generation.
Perhaps even more importantly, SidelineSwap employs tenets of social networking to appeal to young audiences. Along with keeping up regular social media presence on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, Candon has set up SidelineSwap as a sort of social media platform of its own.
With over 100,000 users, SidelineSwap has become a community in which people can create virtual “lockers” to display their gear, as well as send messages and post comments on each other’s items. By keeping up with the latest technology and online trends, Candon has ensured the company’s staying power.
Many athletes struggle with sports-related expenses, all while working to excel on the field and in the classroom. Not only does SidelineSwap allow kids to find affordable equipment options, the marketplace also sponsors scholarships for deserving student-athletes.
The company’s #GearForAYear scholarship awards athletes from grade school through college with $500 worth of sports gear. In this way, Candon is able to further his mission of providing more access to athletics for deserving kids, while also establishing relationships with those his brand is trying to attract. The authenticity of this message has certainly contributed to Candon’s achievements.
The innovation and sincerity behind SidelineSwap are strong markers for its current and potential success. With Candon and his team at the helm, making sports affordable and accessible is getting easier – and more kids are getting the opportunity to get on the field.