Friday, 2 January 2009

Badminton Racket Shops

Badminton shops are everywhere on the internet, some are quite good and some of them are very lame. They all try to sell us the same thing, badminton rackets, but as i look at the listings on google it always seems to be the same companies doing all the advertising, day in day out. Here in the UK we have the big players in the online badminton market, namely central sports, uk rackets, tennis nuts, millets sports and sweatband. This lot are the main players, and it no doubt follows the 80/20 rule, whereby 80% of badminton rackets sold are done so by 20% of the shops.

Not only do these shops spend money to appear on google's sponsored listings, ie they appear on the right hand side of the search results, they also appear in the natural listings, the one's right in front of you on the screen. They do this by spending money omn optimising their websites for certain keywords, such as "badminton racket". This is the holy grail for any online shop, to be on the first page of results for that term, or others such as "yonex badminton racket", "cheap badminton racket" and so on.

This is very important if you want to sell more rackets. You need to be visible, you need people to know you exist. You can have the best online badminton shop around, that looks really great, and offers the best deals, but if nobody see's it, it is worthless. This is big business indeed, and the competition is fierce. The term "badminton racket", or badminton racquet, depending on how you spell it, gets around 40,000 searches every month, and if an online shop is ranked in first position it will take the lions share of this, it will have more visitors than any other shop.

Now how many badminton rackets do you think a shop could sell if it had 40,000 visitors every month? A lot is the answer. Now also, those sponsored results, the one's on the right hand side, these people have paid google to appear there. The number one position will cost more than the number two and so on. Every time someone clicks on their advert, they have to pay money to google for it. The cost can be up to £1 per click on google for the number one position. This money will be paid even if the visitor does not buy anything from the store. This is how google makes it's money.

The whole game is based around getting people to visit your store and buy badminton equipment. Another way is to have an affiliate program. This works by allowing website owners to advertise products for an online store. If someone clicks on the advert an then goes to the shop and buys a badminton racket, then the affiliate gets a commission of the price. The store gets a sale, and the affiliate gets a cut of the sale, everyone wins. The other big incentive for the shop is that it gets a backlink to their website. Backlinks help to rank websites, so the more backlinks that point to a site, the higher it will appear in the rankings, and the more rackets you can sell. This is how it works.

This ugly little blog follows a different path. I have around 150 people visit every day from google, sometimes more, sometimes less, but on average it is about 150. People find this badminton blog by typing things related to badminton rackets in google. I rank nowhere for the term "badminton racket" but i rank all over the place for hundreds of other keywords, such as "apacs badminton racket" browning badminton, badminton string tension, badminton racket guide, etc, these are the long tail keywords. I do this because i have a lot of content on this blog, with over 50 posts all related to badminton rackets, and google cannot help but rank me for obscure terms because this blog contains these words somewhere in all the text, on all the pages.

I get visitors by sheer content, and google loves content, the more i post, the more visitors i get, the more people can read what is on here, and perhaps learn something about badminton rackets. Can you imagine the complete horror if this blog was to rank in the number one position for the term badminton racket? Those online shops would be horrified. I would be taking away their business, instead of having their flashy looking website appear first, this ugly looking blog would appear, and they would not be happy at all.

I would then have 40,000 visitors every month and not them. Now in my opinion, this blog is more valuable to badminton rackets than some online shop is becuase there is information on here, and it is all independant. If a racket is crap, i will say so, but have you ever yet seen an online shop mention the fact that a racket is crap? They never will, because they are trying to sell you them, it is not independant at all, so what use are they?

If this blog ranked high for the main badminton terms then those online shops would be sending me e-mails asking if they can please advertise on this blog. The only reason they would do this is because i get visitors, and visitors means sales, and sales mean profits and money. The online shops don't really care about you and your game, they care about your money.

Central sports has cornered the UK market for Yonex. They are the recommended yonex retailer at the All England championships, and this really does stink. Why? because they have a total monopoly on what is sold at the all england. Yonex does not allow other retailers to even have stands at the all england, and central sports just cash in on this with yonex. This is a disgrace to me. When i used to go to the all england there where loads of stands with all kinds of different manufacturers selling stuff, and it was great for the badminton players to have the opportunity to see all the latest offerings from the manufacturers. These days it is just a big yonex selling monster, and it does the game no good at all. The badminton association of england should hang it's head in shame becuase it is just a yonex puppet, but does it even have a choice?

Yonex are the big sponsors of the all england for god knows how long, and the ba of e needs yonex to keep sponsoring this flagship tournament, because i doubt that anyone else would. I am pretty sure that our association could have some say in the running of it to allow other companies to trade on the concourse, but they will not do it in case yonex pull out of the sponsorship deal. The real losers in all of this are us, because we have little choice but to contribute to the yonex machine at the all england.

Central sports must absolutely love the all england, this is the time when they sell most stuff, anf get their name out to the masses. This is why they can afford to promote their online business on google first page day in day out. Do have a problem with central sports? No, they are just doing their job, it could be exactly the same with any other shop. Do i have a problem with Yonex? No, badminton needs yonex, they have a total grip on badminton worldwide, they sponsor more international tournaments than any other company, if yonex pulled out of badminton, who would fill their place? I don't think there is anyone else to do it. So badminton needs yonex, but i just wish everyone would stop kissing their arse, and stop being their puppets.

And back to badminton rackets... So we have the main players all advertising on google for a share of the spoils. At the time of writing this the number one sponsored listing is, guess who? yep, it's central sports, and the advert tells us that they are the premier uk yonex stockist. They sell the yonex stuff. Also ranked high are sweatband badminton for the term "badminton racket". Sweatband sell cheap badminton rackets, but it is only very recently that they have started selling yonex rackets, they have concentrated on other brands such as carlton. So they are up there for badminton racket, however, they do not appear for the term "yonex badminton racket". Why is this?

Well if you go to their online store you will find they sell just 7 yonex badminton rackets. They currently sell the nanospeed 9000X for a whopping £135. Do they not know that you can now buy this racket for around £80? Of course they do, this is the reason that they do not advertise for the term "yonex badminton racket" because they know damn well that they cannot hope to sell many yonex rackets when their prices are so high. Us badminton players are not stupid, and when we go online to find our next racket we will do a bit of shopping around to find the cheapest deal, and £135 for a nanospeed 9000X is not a good deal.

So why do they do it? Why do they insist on trying to sell these rackets for a price that nobody will buy for? Or will they? there must be some people who just go online and see a price and then go and buy it straight away. These are the people that the stores are hoping to find, and they do find them, because they keep on advertising. They would not advertise for badminton rackets day in day out if they did not sell them, it works for them, so they keep on doing it.

So where the hell do you go if you want to buy a badminton racket online? Well there literally hundreds of online stores, but only a handful that will sell rackets at a decent price, and the one's that do this, are the big name shops who spend more money on getting their name known. Honestly, some of the online racket shops are total crap, and sell stuff for stupid prices. There is no way they can hope to sell much if they sell too high, yet they still insist on advertising these high prices. What is the point?

Let's break this down a little. You want to sell rackets online so you get someone to build you a website. Not any old website either, but a flashy looking one with all the bells and whistles, that looks appealing to visitors, that makes you stand out from the rest. This will not come cheap. So you spend a lot of cash on just the right design. You then need all the rackets in place, ready to sell, so you spend a whole lot more money on your stock, thousands probably, becuase the more stock you buy, the cheaper each item will be. But you don't want to go out and buy loads of stock just in case you can't sell enough of it. You will need to get the balance right on this one.

So now you have the website and the stock. Now you need to get people to visit your shop, and so you need to market your name all over the internet, and to do this you need to spend some more money. You need to advertise your shop, so you go to google adwords and start paying for your badminton racket shop to be listed on google's sponsored listings, and you also go to yahoo and msn, and to the other major search engines, and reapeat the process.

You also want to appear in the organic listings, so you hire an search engine optimisation company, to help you move up the natural listings for the main terms related to badminton rackets. This is not cheap either, not cheap at all. These companies will then go out and optimise your website for these keywords and get you some backlinks, to help you move up the rankings for badminton terms. So far you have probably spent a whole lot of money. You could perhaps go the ebay route, and open up an ebay store, just like racketworld, and sell your equipment through ebay, or amazon. This represents a much cheaper alternative, and puts you infront of a wide audience, but don't forget that ebay will take a slice of the profits, and paypal as well.

After you have done all of this, the one thing you absolutely must offer to the customer is the best price, and best delivery, and best customer service, or else they will not buy from you. So why in the name of all that is holy do these shops still sell rackets at high prices? It defeats the whole object, and it does not make sense to me at all. If i had an online store i would be checking the other stores to see what prices they were selling rackets for, and at very least try and match that price. I would certainly not waste money on advetising, if my prices were too high, yet there are stores that do this. It is crazy. All this does is waste time, because you click on the advert, visit the website and then realise that you are not going to buy anything from them because of the price. They have lost money because they paid for you to click on the advert in the first place, and you have lost time by clicking through the website to find something you did not want to, ie a high price.

If i had a store i would only advertise for things i knew damn well i could sell cheaper, or as cheap as the competition, otherwise what is the point?

Here is another tip. If you buy a badminton racket and you get poor customer service, then go to somewhere like badminton central and name and shame them. Badminton central is a badminton monster, and by monster i mean that it is a big player in the online badminton world. It gets thousands of visitors every day, with very active forums. Badminton players go on these forums and have their say. It is mainly taken up with asian and north american players, but there are players from all corners of the globe on there.

The badminton companies also check out what is going on at BC, because it has so many visitors. They do look in the forums and see what is being said by the members, and all it takes for someone to sound out a certain company who has treated them badly and they are in there, offering an apology, because they know damn well that bad publicity will hurt their business. This is great because it helps to protect us badminton players, and also keeps the online stores in check. So next time you are not happy with a company just go on BC and let rip in the forums. It can also work the other way, if someone has a good experience with a racket and says so, or recommends a certain racket, then this will be good for business for the company, they will surely get some visitors from the BC community. The same thing goes with Badders in the UK.

I think this post has gone on long enough about nothing in particular without really achieving much! It has probably not helped in the slightest about choosing where to buy your next badminton racket, so my apologies.


apacs uk said...


What can I say other than I agree!

This is why we started Apacs UK, to offer an alternative.
Not wishing to take too much of an advantage of the blog, but I hope we have shown your members a slightly different approach to business

we are different and new!


antony said...

Hi Steve

Got any more rackets you want testing? While your here i may as well take advantage of you!

apacs uk said...

Hi Antony

Feel free to take advantage, its a two way street!

We have some new stock on its way. We have the new Nano Super Light, less than 74grams we are told so should be interesting.

The Tantrum Power 11 International Which uses new "arrow tapered fins" in the shaft to improve recovery and shmash speed.

We will send you some test rackets when they arrive.


antony said...

Hi Steve
Nice one, and can you string the rackets at about 28lbs, or very tight, i am now in a high tension frame of mind!! Also i think i should congratulate my old training partner who recently won the national mixed doubles title, and was runner up in the singles for his age group. Oh, and he did it playing with his Apacs Edgesaber 10, so well done to him!!

True Badminton said...

Anotony Ive decided to follow in your footsteps and also review the rackets that I borrow/buy from eveyrwhere. To help people choose another option , so they don't have to only choose one brand e.g yonex and have other cheaper options etc...

True Badminton said...

Sorry one more comment - do you get your rackets from some companies for free or do you buy most of them. It would be really helpful to get a few free rackets to review to help everyone.

Anyway thanks again , :D

antony said...

Hi True
I try to get rackets from companies, and i have a very good relationship with Apacs UK, who send me new stuff when it arrives in the UK. In return they get a bit of exposure from this blog. The other rackets are my own, or others i manage to get my hands on.

I wish you the best with your site, let me know the address so i can have a look.

cheeky said...

Dear Anthony,
I dont have comment here, but i have a question that i dont find the answer from all of your articles. Could you please tell me what do you mean by "lead tape"? is there any other name used instead of "lead tape" because i was trying so hard to search for it in the shops but i could not find it..can you please help me. I think i want to experiment it and follow your advice..
Thank you

antony said...

Hi Cheeky
Lead tape is just a kind of tape made out of lead, it is used to add some weight to your racket. You can get from sports shops, or on the internet. I got mine from ebay, just type in "lead tape" and see what results come up. Many players use this tape in tennis, but you can also use it for badminton rackets, and squash as well. It will come as a strip, and you just cut off what you need and then stick it to your racket. Try ebay first, i paid about £3 for mine, so it is not expensive.