Brooks Koepka wasn’t the only winner at Erin Hills this past weekend. Mary Lopuszynksi, senior director of licensing and U.S. Open merchandising for the United States Golf Association, successfully executed on the 39,000-square-foot tent that included a product selection of over 400,000 items. How do you prepare for a store of that scale that has to launch and sell through in only 11 days? For one, it can’t be done alone. Lopuszynski and her team of over a thousand volunteers worked to make sure the operation ran efficiently. It took a balance of data analysis, merchandise presentation, inventory management, logistics, and more to provide a seamless shopping experience.
Lesson 1: With so many factors in play, it’s important to have a multi-faceted team.
With the Open taking a rare midwest stop, fans were eager to take a piece of the championship home with them. For their benefit, Lopuszynski made sure they didn’t worry about missing any action. The store featured giant screens broadcasting the tournament live both at checkout lanes and throughout the store.
Lesson 2: The shopping experience should compliment the event rather than compete with it.
With each day’s attendance exceeding 30,000 fans, how could Lopuszynski and her team predict the need for 100,000 hats? “We really look at the numbers closely,” Lopuszynski said. “We spend probably four hours a day every morning — at five in the morning — looking at the numbers.” The team expected to sell at a rate of 15 hats per minute!
Lesson 3: Make data-driven decisions.
As a merchandiser, it’s not enough to just study the history of your event. You need to research the community you’re entering. “We ordered more red than we normally do because of the Badgers,” Lopuszynski said. “We do a lot of research whenever we go to a new market in particular.” Even further, the US Open integrated local artists in the area of the championship for the third consecutive year.
Lesson 4: Integrate the local economy to ensure an authentic experience
While your next event may not have the budget or the attendance of the US Open, you can emulate the strategies used by one of the largest sporting events to make sure attendees both have an enjoyable experience and make a purchase!