With the recent boom in home exercise and increasing interest in combat sports, the Venture Forge team have delved deep into Amazon to explore just how successful boxing and combat sports are on Amazon and to see who are the fighters, winners and losers in this rapidly growing category.
Boxing and combat sports on Amazon – What’s it worth?
Our analysis looked at all the subcategories within boxing and combat sports on Amazon UK covering boxing gym equipment, gloves, pads and all the way through to boxing sets and shoes.
What our research has shown is that the boxing and combat sports category is worth in the region of £1.9m per month, across a total of 160,000 units of stock sold every 30 days.
Over a year, factoring in some seasonality, this category is worth in the region of £22m to £24m in sales.
The best selling brands in boxing and combat sports on Amazon
As we identified in our Activewear Category Insight, it’s pretty fair to expect the larger more recognised sports brands to dominate these categories – Adidas, Everlast, Reebok for example, but again this is not the case.
What we see in boxing and combat sports is the ongoing success, growth and dominance of the more niche brands that have made Amazon a clear focus of their strategy, or the success of Amazon only brands that have built a business purely on Amazon.
The Top 5 boxing and combat sports brands, by sales value on Amazon UK are:
Adidas is the first major brand to feature in our market share analysis, sitting at 10th in the market with just 2.2% market share, and Reebok features further down at 55th with very few products listed on Amazon UK and sales under £5k/month.
For such large brands, with a major focus on this category in other sales channels, this seems to be a missed opportunity for growth.
Best selling items in boxing and combat sports on Amazon UK
Sales in this category are heavily skewed towards two core categories, which account for over 55% of the total sales between them – punch bags and gloves.
- Punch Bags – £606k
- Gloves – £431k
- Protective Gear – £377k
- Pads – £150k
- Boxing Gym Equipment – £100k
Within these categories, the best selling 5 items are:
- Gallant 5.5ft Free Standing Boxing Punch Bag – £86k/month
- Dripex Adult Free Standing Boxing Punch Bag – £83k/month
- RDX Punch Bag – £75k/month
- ONEX Heavy Filled 11 Piece 4ft Boxing Punch Bag Set – £46k/month
- Sparta Boxing gloves and pads set – £35k/month
Amazon-first brands dominate through a clear Amazon strategy
As we continue to see in many categories on Amazon UK, it’s not the strength or maturity of the brand that drives the success or sales, but instead, it is the understanding of how to grow sales on the platform and an understanding of the Amazon algorithm.
With the exception of RDX and Adidas, 8 of the Top 10 brands are not brands that would be recognisable outside of Amazon and many brands that you would expect to be doing well on Amazon in this category do not even feature in our analysis.
What is different in this category when compared to activewear, however, is the reason why this is the case.
Do big brands see this category as important?
Whilst in activewear we saw big brands trying to sell on Amazon, but suffering due to a historical lack of strategy, what we’re seeing in this category is that the big brands don’t seem to be playing at all.
From the products we have reviewed from big brands, we see very little evidence of the brands themselves selling on Amazon and the few sales they are generating are coming through third-party sellers who aren’t doing a great job of selling the product or representing the brand.
Perhaps boxing and combat sports is seen as too small in the wider proposition of the likes of Adidas and Reebok and as such doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
Similarly, with Everlast, (a brand owned by Frasers Group/Sports Direct but operated on Amazon by Pure Tec) they have a great broad range with excellent brand and price positioning for the Amazon market, but they really underachieve when compared to other brands in the market with less brand recognition.
Despite having the right product at the right price, the quality and approach from Everlast to Amazon is sub-par and a real missed opportunity.
With great ranges and a growing category, these bigger traditional brands should be set to dominate boxing on Amazon but simply aren’t going after it.
Clear strategies win out
Where the winners are winning is with a clear Amazon-first strategy and treating Amazon as a core sales channel.
Across the brands that are succeeding, and in particular RDX, some trends are very clear:
- Exceptional listing quality – far above anything we have seen in any other category and across all points from images, titles, bullet points, descriptions and enhanced brand content (EBC/A+). RDX really lead the way here.
- Bundling to drive consumer value – to drive differentiation and perceived value from the customer, many listings in this category are now bundle-listings (i.e. punch bags, skipping ropes and gloves or gloves and hand wraps)
- Heavily price traded – this category is heavily price traded, with vast amounts of competition and price being a key factor and the brands that are winning are those who actively participate in this and aren’t afraid to trade on price.
- Great use of Enhanced Brand Content – RDX in particular does a great job of bringing the brand and product to life through great imagery and use of their brand ambassadors.
How boxing and combat sports are sold on Amazon
Three clear trends exist in boxing and combat sports in terms of selling models, and these are often the most common on Amazon UK.
- Small low-value items are sold on Amazon through Amazon Vendor. These are typically less than £10 in price (i.e. a gumshield) and from a unit economics point of view don’t typically stack up to sell through FBA or simply can’t be traded competitively as merchant fulfilled.
- Heavy and large items (i.e punch bags and weights) are sold through merchant fulfilled, as Amazon FBA would not prove cost-effective in spite of benefitting from the Amazon Prime badge.
- Everything else is sold and fulfilled via Amazon FBA, and this category, in particular, seems to be very mature in its use of Amazon FBA on almost all successful lines.
The costs of selling boxing and combat sports on Amazon
Boxing and combat sports come under the wider Sports and Outdoors category on Amazon UK and therefore operates on their standard referral fee structure of 15.3% of gross sales value with a minimum fee of 25p.
How to win at boxing and combat sports on Amazon UK
With what is such a mature and competitive category, dominated by brands that have made selling on Amazon a core part of their overall e-commerce strategy, competing and winning here is going to be tough for anyone new to the category.
Exceptional listings and imagery are a minimum requirement
Listings quality is exceptionally high in boxing and combat sports, especially amongst the best sellers.
Building great listings from the outset is always the best starting point for any listing, but is often something that gives you a competitive edge. In this category, we’d describe it as more of a basic requirement that you simply have to do in order to stand any chance of competing and winning in other areas.
- Deep keyword research, including reverse engineering of your competitors’ listings to find open niches and ways to take market share.
- Intelligent copy on your titles, bullet points, description and back end keywords, striking a balance between keywords for ranking and persuasive copy for driving conversion.
- Maximising all image and video opportunities to really sell the quality of your product, plus all the unique features and benefits when compared to those of the competition.
- Engaging EBC, calling out all the usual features and benefits of your products but also conveying the strength of your brand positioning in the wider boxing market. For example, your brand ambassadors and sponsorships will set you apart as an authentic boxing brand.
Trade on price
Price is a key factor in this category, and unless you’re willing to step into the arena and play the same game as everyone else you will struggle to cut through.
Many brands quite rightly look to maintain a high price point on Amazon and are reluctant to trade heavily but in this particularly price-sensitive and heavily trade category won’t be an option.
- Daily monitoring of prices on competing lines.
- Implementing price monitoring and management tools to trade automatically when competitors shift their prices.
- Regular use of deals (i.e. Prime Deals, lightning deals, vouchers, was/now pricing) to drive conversion.
- Creating unique value bundles to reduce the impact of price as the only differentiator between you and the competition.
- Elevating your brand to a more premium and trusted position to compete against the many “me too” Amazon brands.
Be an already recognised brand
Easier said than done, but one of the easier opportunities to unlock in this category is for one of the many well-recognised brands that are not taking this category seriously to come in and compete.
With elevated and trusted brands, strong and well-regarded ranges and the ability to back an Amazon launch with a good advertising budget (see below) they could take some market share relatively easily.
Everlast, Reebok and Adidas – we’re looking at you!
Develop product specifically for Amazon to compete
To succeed in a highly competitive category, you’re going to need a competitive edge on product and we see opportunities in two areas:
- Unique product bundles that give both pricing and product differentiation. Boxing and combat sports is already heavily bundled, but with very little differentiation from one brand to another.
- Creating FBA friendly versions of products where subcategories are dominated by FBM listings. This is easier said than done, but by placing an FBA product into an FBM heavy category, customers will benefit from next day Prime delivery and lower delivery pricing, whilst the seller will gain a ranking advantage. Some of this is starting to be seen in punch bags with self-fillable punch bags being sold on FBA against pre-filled punch bags on FBM.
Invest heavily in PPC and external traffic to catch up with the market
In a mature market dominated by exceptional Amazon sellers, with good sales velocities, great listings and high reviews; one of the biggest challenges is playing catch up.
With minimal scope for beating the competition on the quality of your listings, catching up with the competition on sales velocity remains one of the few true levers for Amazon growth and advertising both on and off Amazon is your best option.
- Heavily investing in on-Amazon advertising to generate sales, reviews and ratings in the short term, rather than profit. With a long distance between you and the established competition, focussing on profit in the short term will hamper your long term success in this category.
- Driving off-Amazon traffic from your own advertising channels through to your Amazon listings or storefront will add additional brand loyal traffic to your listings, generating sales, ratings and reviews and shortcutting the growth of your brand.
Want to find out more?
We’re able to generate deep insight into every category on Amazon in the UK and around the world. Our data here on boxing and combat sports is just a snippet of what we have available.
If you’d be interested in seeing insight specific to your brand or category and ideas on how to grow your sales on Amazon, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.