The retailer looked to non-sporting goods e-retailers to inspire the design and functionality of its new site.

When sporting goods retail chain Hibbett Sports Inc. was preparing to launch its first e-commerce site earlier this year, it knew it wanted to leverage its 1,082 stores to fulfill online orders.

But Hibbett initially opted to only offer ship from store and not a buy online, pickup in-store service because the retailer wanted to make a positive initial impression on online shoppers, says vice president of digital commerce Bill Quinn.

“[Buy online, pick up in store] relies heavily on inventory accuracy and to come out of the gate with BOPIS being enabled would have been a big risk for us,” he says. “We want to make sure our inventory is as accurate as possible. Ship from store is a lot more forgiving because if one store doesn’t have it, you can kick [the order] to another store. There’s a lot around execution from stores when you do BOPIS, and we felt that that would be too much to handle currently.”

Hibbett’s e-commerce site went live late last month. Quinn says the site is built on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, formerly known as Demandware, and utilizes Radial for order management. Shipping online orders from stores didn’t require much of an adjustment to store layouts because late last year, Hibbett upgraded its order management system that allows stores to more easily transfer inventory from one location to another if a particular item is out of stock.

“By the time we rolled out e-commerce, there wasn’t much left for us to do because all the technology and training was there,” Quinn says. “We had eight different types of boxes and different types of bags [to ship] for the apparel, but all of that had been worked out ahead of time. When we tied ship from store into e-commerce, the stores were already trained, it was just more volume for them.”

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In addition to its 1,082 stores, Hibbett utilizes a distribution center and drop-shipping to fulfill online orders. Quinn says he and his team used responsive design techniques to ensure the site adapts to the size of the screen it is being viewed. That’s important because roughly 70% of the traffic to its previous website, which was not commerce-enabled, came from mobile devices.

“We knew that we had to deliver that full experience to customers,” he says. To make it easier for mobile shoppers to convert, Hibbett accepts Apple Pay and PayPal to reduce friction at checkout, he says.

Hibbett has about 20 employees working on e-commerce at its Birmingham, Ala., headquarters, Quinn says. During the 12 months from the start of the design process to the launch of its site last week, the retailer took inspiration from other, non-sporting goods retailers to add features and functionalities to ensure its e-commerce site stands out.

“We’ve got shop the look. We brought in models and we shot models and you can buy the shorts and the sneakers,” he says. “That’s something we borrowed from fashion. Our merchandisers will take a shoe and say ‘Here’s what’s sold with that shoe,’ and you can add those items to your cart right off the product detail page. We borrowed that from the furniture industry.”

The ability to incorporate some of the best features from other retailers’ sites is one advantage to being late to e-commerce.

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“We’re up against people who have been doing this for 20 years,” he says. “We know what we’re up against and we know we have to provide a better experience in order to do well, especially coming up on the holiday season.”

Hibbett is just now getting into e-commerce at a time when Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, is expanding its sports apparel offerings. A month and a half ago, Amazon began selling Nike Inc. (No. 37) shoes directly through a brand registry program. Nike competitor Under Armour Inc. (No. 36) already sells on Amazon.

 

There were 69 sporting goods retailers in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000 which generated a combined $6.546 billion in online sales in 2016, according to Internet Retailer’s Top500Guide.com,

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