Almost half of online traffic to BSNSports.com was coming from mobile devices, but the distributor wasn’t converting enough of those visits to sales. To convert more mobile visitors to buyers, BSN Sports redesigned its e-commerce site last year with responsive technology. A responsive website adapts to fit the screen size and functionality of the device on which it’s being viewed, including smartphones and tablets.
Since the switch, BSN’s mobile conversion rate has doubled for both smartphones and tablets according to Paul Kruger, BSN’s vice president of e-commerce. “We saw that over 40% of our traffic was from mobile and we weren’t doing everything to cater to that type of user,” he says. “We have been very satisfied with the results since we switched.”
BSN sells sporting goods, from uniforms to scoreboards and bleachers, to schools, government agencies, community centers, and municipal parks and recreation departments. The company generated $750 million in sales in 2015 and Kruger estimates that more than 95% of its sales are to businesses and organizations, and the balance to consumers. BSN’s team of sales reps process the majority of orders either in person or over the phone because, according to Kruger, most of their orders require customization for items such as uniforms. BSN also has a call center through which it processes orders. Online sales through BSNSports.com account for 5% of B2B sales, Kruger says, or an estimated $36 million in 2015.
BSN moved its B2B e-commerce operations to an e-commerce technology platform from Magento Inc. in January 2013 and its online sales doubled in the first year, Kruger says. It deployed Magento’s Enterprise Edition version 1.12 after 12 years of using an internally developed platform. “Our old system caused a bottleneck of production for our coders and was almost invisible to search engine spiders and SEO,” Kruger says. Search engine “spiders” go through web pages to determine their contents so that websites like Google and Bing can direct users to the content they seek. “We needed a platform that was search engine-friendly and had a development team behind it that we could rely on and, for us, that was Magento,” Kruger says.
BSN also engaged Perficient Inc., formerly Zeon Solutions, to help integrate BSN’s SAP pricing logic from its old system into the Magento platform. Kruger says the new platform cost less than $500,000 to implement.
BSN is still using the Magento 1 platform despite Magento rolling out its updated Magento 2 in November 2015. Kruger says BSN is comfortable with its current platform but the company will look into an upgrade in the spring of next year. Magento has stopped selling the 1.x version and will stop supporting it permanently in November of 2018. In the meantime, the technology vendor will roll out its second update to the 2.x platform, Magento 2.2, at the end of the year, which will have a heavy focus on B2B functionality according to Magento.
Buyers can purchase as a guest on BSNSports.com but they can also register for free and receive discounted pricing based on the type of organization. “Once a customer places their first purchase with us, it is reviewed by our internal team and they are placed into a customer tier depending on if they’re a YMCA or a high school or another type of organization. They receive preferred pricing as determined by our system,” Kruger says. The company’s target market is coaches and athletic directors for schools and youth sports organizations.
BSN also reaches customers through mail order catalogs, and prints 3 million copies each year. Those catalogs help drive buyers to the site where they can browse the company’s 25,000 SKUs, Kruger says. In addition to the catalog, BSN works with U.S. Communities, a purchasing cooperative through which schools, government agencies and nonprofits can submit bid requests to vendors like BSN, which then respond with bids. Kruger says that BSN has been working with U.S. Communities for four years but declined to provide financial details on the arrangement.
BSN acquired sportswear retailer Lids Team Sports from the Lids Sports Group in January 2016. BSN is part of Varsity Brands, which also operates Varsity Spirit, a provider of cheerleading clothing and accessories, and Herff Jones, which sells rings, trophies, and caps and gowns. Varsity Brands is owned by private equity firms Charlesbank Capital Partners and Partners Group.
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