A New Retail Disruptor – How Cadi Plans to Change ‘Try Before You Buy’

  • Golf’s gains during the pandemic have many searching for clubs that match their skill set.
  • Pro golfer Paul Casey lends his endorsement to a multi-brand autonomous retail platform focused on letting players try clubs before buying.
  • Proprietary tech may hint at a broader future for Cadi.

Through the pandemic, golf’s popularity has reached new heights. More people play the game both recreationally and competitively than ever before. Most figures place the golf equipment market to be resting at $8.5 billion in annual sales since 2020. However, many players experience issues sourcing new clubs, from purchasing online and not receiving the best club for their skill sets (or sometimes counterfeit clubs via online purchasing), to attending a fitting day at a local course only to be shown one brand of club. 

The golf consumer is limited in their options to purchase new clubs. Most local courses no longer carry much inventory, but still offer custom order services for members or a fitting day with one brand. Brick-and-mortar big box and smaller retailers no longer maintain an extensive inventory of golf clubs and, in most cases, only carry accessories such as shoes, golf balls, tees, and apparel. For some retailers, such as specialty shops that carry an extensive selection of drivers, hybrids, irons, and putters, the only option to ensure that the clubs purchased work best for the player is to test the club inside the shop, with a net and simulator. While many golf simulators have improved, it is still not as informative as actually trying it on a golf course.  

So what technology is available for golfers to confirm the new golf clubs they purchase are the best fit for their skill set? Some major big-box sports retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Academy Sports and Outdoors, and others have online retail platforms, offer generous return policies, and provide promotions for the major brands. Others, such as Worldwide Golf Shops, Nevada Bob’s, and PGA TOUR Superstores allow players to receive one-on-one consultations and the ability to use a simulator to test clubs. Country clubs, while perhaps not as stocked with inventory as in previous years, do offer consultation with a golf professional. A new start-up wants to bring the benefits of all of the above options, and merge it with the convenience and practicality of trying-before-buying to the golf course. 

Try Before You Buy Comes to Golf

Cadi Kiosk, a new startup based in Carlsbad, CA, is hoping to provide golfers with the opportunity to test out clubs on the course before the final purchase. Similar models have been offered by companies from Amazon to running shoe brands like Hoka. Cadi is developing an autonomous retail platform in order to bring this solution to golf. 

Cadi’s plan involves both an eCommerce presence and a unique kiosk shopping experience. The eCommerce platform uses a collection of data and cross-platform integration that they state will add layers of depth to the club selection process. That data is then presented to the player with recommendations based on the club and player. Their kiosks will allow players to do the same thing – choose a club, try it out on the course, and return if it’s not the best fit for their game.  

The Tech Behind the Swing

To accomplish this, Cadi is undertaking a significant endeavor. The company is building out micro warehouses equipped with proprietary technology that tracks and manages the distribution of all clubs in the Cadi system, including clubs previously used or tested. Cadi can distribute clubs to any kiosk or ship directly to customers. Why is this important?  Product loss for traditional retailers typically accounts for their highest costs, outside labor and overhead. Most retailers report inventory accuracy as low as 60-70%. 

Cadi is aiming to have their internal systems achieve as close to 100% accuracy as possible before launching the e-commerce and kiosk platforms. Beyond the apparent gains of reducing backorders and sales losses through improved inventory controls, Cadi also aims to offer better delivery of the ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience and move products through their supply chain quickly. 

Beyond the 18th Hole

Cadi successfully raised over $2 million in crowdfunding, with the second round that began in January 2022. Along with online crowdfunding the company also attracted attention with the inaugural “Cadi Week’ at the Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale earlier this year. In March, the company announced that PGA pro golfer Paul Casey endorses the brand. Casey has not endorsed a major club manufacturer to date, instead preferring to use a mix of brands while on tour. In his endorsement announcement, Casey noted that Cadi would allow him to try multiple brands as golf equipment continues to evolve. Amidst this praise Cadi aims to complete the crowdfunding campaign by May of 2022, and also plans to launch the eCommerce platform in 2022.

Their supply chain and fulfillment model along with their proprietary analytical software may very well position Cadi to offer similar service for enthusiasts of other pursuits. What else might this start-up have in their bag?