Omnichannel. What is it?
Gym operators are finding new ways to future-proof their businesses, and omnichannel has become the most important. Here Mendel Witzenhausen shares unique insights and actionable recommendations for those who want to keep up with the competition.
From hybrid gyms to multi-channel business models. What does omnichannel mean in the fitness industry?
Omnichannel means that your business is fully customer-centric. You don’t wait for members to reach your gym; instead, your gym is present and open 24/7. In this omnichannel model, members are at the center.
The retail industry is a good example. Most brick-and-mortar businesses also sell online, because that’s where Millennials and Generation Z like purchasing. And they do it while walking, traveling or commuting.
Another good example is the health industry. They are developing sophisticated databases and offering different omnichannel solutions and personalization at scale.
Unfortunately, in the fitness industry, we are behind. It was only during COVID-19 that fitness professionals realized they needed to adapt.
Member engagement tactics. How can omnichannel help?
First, we see a strong correlation between member engagement and loyalty.
But many gym and health operators still believe their two-month-onboarding plans are enough to retain. Research shows that when members rely solely on gym facilities to train, they will visit the gym once a week. That’s not enough.
With the help of digital fitness content via the member app, gyms are now better equipped to help members commit to training at least three times a week. As a result, only those who are engaged with their training plans will stay for the long run.
Personalization is another essential benefit of omnichannel fitness. Just like when people turn on Netflix and find the perfect recommendation, members should be able to access tailor-made training programs and receive guidance starting at home and following in the gym.
Does omnichannel support smart fitness?
Yes. In the era of smart fitness, omnichannel definitely helps. There are three benefits: retention, flexible membership packages and real connection between gyms and members.
However, more often than not, I see that gym and health operators still need to assess the scope of an objective omnichannel approach.
For instance, some club operators rush to choose a member management system (MMS). Only later do they realize that they will also need fitness content. When they find out that the MMS is not open to integrating and working with other providers (e.g. content providers), it’s too late.
That’s also why Ernst de Neef and I decided that Funxtion, a digital content platform, would offer API integrations and adopt a plug-and-play model. As a result, our content is white label and open to integration with any system. But I know that’s different from how it usually works in the industry.
What is the best digital fitness content strategy?
That’s a good question. I’ve been in this industry for twenty years and have seen how analogue and digital functional training work on the gym floor. I’ve also noticed that gym-goers tend to use a mix of settings, including outdoors.
If we take those needs into consideration, then gym operators should build a model that feels unique for their members. For instance, a combination of short single exercises, including gym equipment tutorials for in-gym visits, audio for those who like training outdoors, and video-on-demand or virtual classes. Offering the right documentation is also important, like infographics.
There is also the quality factor. You need high-quality digital content and world-class instructors.
Are gym operators using the right technology?
I don’t think operators are leveraging technology to its fullest.
For example, the latest EuropeActive report showed that 94% of gym operators in Europe have a proprietary app as an add-on to the company’s core business.
Yes, these apps allow their members to book a class, look at a class schedule, check in and check out from the facility. But that’s purely transactional; it lacks engagement.
The most efficient technology should focus on member engagement: personalization, tailor-made training plans, and actual member data and support. In other words, it should be more than a nice add-on.
What is the next step for gym operators?
Gym operators may need to redesign their business strategy. From implementing multi-screens in the gym to making the training more organized and efficient using virtual classes and training plans that members can easily access at home or outdoors.
For instance, the Funxtion team now uses Unreal Engine in content production to create more interactivity and immersive experiences. We are actively looking for new ways to make members engage with their gym’s content offerings. In addition, our product teams are making integration easier for everyone involved.
With that being said, enabling an omnichannel member journey is no longer a tick-on-the-box exercise; it’s a must-have.
Funxtion is the world’s leading B2B digital fitness content platform that has helped enterprise gym operators achieve high records of member retention since 2011. By delivering fitness content in the gym and on the go, Funxtion has helped increase gym group class attendance by 220% and engagement to a higher level.
In 2022, Funxtion raised EUR 5.8 million in equity capital to accelerate the innovation of its platform and fuel rapid international expansion.
Talk to our team. You will receive a personalized plan adjusted to your business that will foster new levels of success.