By Reggae Elliss

Retailers and the surf industry as whole can never over emphasise the importance of staff training and customer service.

Another successful SBIA industry round table was held at the Stamford Plaza Airport hotel in Sydney on March 19, 2015. It was well attended with 50 people from across the industry, including a solid number of retailers. The day was broken into two sessions, with a board update and general discussions prior to lunch followed by an energetic round table session in the afternoon.

The board update from SBIA president Anthony “Macka” Wilson focused on the results of the SBIA consumer survey, which will be distributed to all members this week. The collection period of the survey was September 2014 to January 2015, and given it had 4783 respondents its results are very relevant to every surf and boardsports retailer. Some of the key findings concern the frequency of visits to a surf/boardsports store and the store factors they rate as most important. Almost half of the respondents visit a store every fortnight or more, which highlights the need for retailers to freshen up stock offerings and re-merchandise regularly. The most important factor for customers when visiting the store was customer service including the staff’s product knowledge, followed by the range of products the store carried. The survey also shows that the majority of surf and boardsports consumers prefer the overall experience of shopping in store to online purchasing. Retailers and the surf industry as whole can never over emphasise the importance of staff training and customer service and this was the key factor that came out of the afternoon session.

Once again the round table discussion was facilitated by Clinton Fraser from Davidsons Accountants and Business Advisors, the overall subject being what we can do to improve our industry. Picking up from the last round table in October, Clinton asked what brands can do for retailers and also what retailers can do for brands.There were a lot of good ideas thrown up for discussion and with the following emerging as the top three factors to improve our industry:

  • Staff training/skills of staff/customer service
  • The concept of a “Service Agreement” where retailers and reps/brands agree on service levels
  • Retailer to reinvest in store fit-outs, POS systems and in store experience

Again it isn’t surprising that staff training and customer service is right up there and that’s an area we will be focusing on through the SBIA website, with brand members sharing their training and product knowledge on

The “Service Agreement” concept will be further developed and a survey sent out to retail members asking for feedback on what they feel is important. Things like how often they would like to see their rep instore, help with visual merchandising and point of sale material, reviewing indent orders and best sellers.

The next Roundtable conference will be held on the Gold Coast on June 11, 2015, the afternoon before the 2015 SBIA Surf Industry  Awards night. It a good opportunity to share ideas with other retailers and network with industry members, and it’ll be part of a fun day.