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Second Serve - A Tennis Now Blog

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Is it wise for manufacturers to be expanding distribution of tennis gear during challenging times? What is the impact on retail partners when manufacturers expand distribution? What will the future of tennis retailing look like?

Many retailers, current industry leaders and former industry leaders are puzzled by the continued expansion of distribution among some brands. What is the long term impact?

Many manufacturers are selling directly to Amazon, Zappos and others.  These mega retailers do Not meet the basic dealer guildelines (carry entire line, ability to string and have demo racquets, etc.).

Recent research from the Tennis Industry Association indicates that the number of Frequent Players in the United States has dropped for 2 years.  The same research shows that the total number of plays in the US are down.

If a manufacturer is selling large quantities of tennis balls directly to Amazon, it is Not really increasing business.  But rather, taking sales away from existing tennis retailers.  With participation on the decline, most would agree that any increase in ball sales from Amazon must be at the expense of sales through the dealer network.

Both Babolat* and Nike continue to grow during this challenging economic environment.  Both are NOT expanding distribution of performance tennis products.  They are not on Zappos.  They are not selling directly to Amazon and other marketplaces. They are Not on ebay and other auction sites.

adidas recently took unprecedented steps to remove all products from online affiliate programs (commission generated sales via pay per click, coupons sites, etc.).  This will surely help adidas to better control their brand and keep their performance product elevated from a consumer perspective. Affiliate coupon sites are popping up across the web and retailers are looking to get the upper hand on these coupons sites (,, etc).

These are interesting questions. We each face multiple challenges in the short term. But, our decisions today will impact the future of tennis retailing.

Please forward me your thoughts and comments... [email protected].

Play Tennis, Be Happy,