Shoe retailer City Gear uses push notifications to communicate with its app shoppers and to drive sales for its newly released products.

Shoe retailer City Gear is stepping up its online and mobile sales.

Online sales have increased roughly 30-40% in 2018 compared with 2017, says Chris Brigham, the retailer’s director of omnichannel. This increase in sales is good news for City Gear during this important back-to-school time period.  “Back-to-school time is one of the three big seasons for us,” Brigham says.

The holiday season and the tax return season are the other peak times, he says, noting that he hopes that this e-commerce bump will continue through the most important holiday season.

In the last year, City Gear has made updates to its e-commerce site, such as its colors, navigation and layout, that have contributed to the sales increase. In addition, the retailer’s digital marketing efforts via its mobile app have also helped increase online sales, he says.

City Gear has about 76,000 consumers who receive mobile push notifications in its app. The app launched roughly a year ago in August 2017. “It’s done really well and continually grows,” Brigham says.


City Gear uses push notifications—or alerts sent through the app to a shopper’s smartphone—to let consumers know of deals, new products or a new blog.

“We’ve been trying to toe the line between not enough communication and too much communication, which can be tough,” Brigham says. “Some users prefer to not be communicated with and some want all the details.”

City Gear plans the push notifications it sends in conjunction with its other digital marketing channels, such as email sends. The number of push notifications it sends per week varies depending on the number of events going on, such as new shoe releases, and can be one to three notifications per week, he says.

Typically 2-10% of consumers who receive a push notification open it, with a 10% open rate being very high performing, Brigham says.


City Gear does not have a specific revenue goal tied to the app, but when the notifications are done at the right time for the right products, they drive sales, Brigham says. On any given week, sales made in the app could account for anywhere from 10-20% of online sales, he says.

Each push notification send on average generates $2,000 in revenue, he says. City Gear measures this by if a shopper opens the notification and makes a purchase within that same session, he says.

“Timeliness of the push notification and content of the push notification are crucial to getting a return on that,” Brigham says.

For example, the retailer will send out a push notification just minutes after a shoe launches on the site, typically around 9:02 a.m. Central time.


City Gear uses emojis in most of its push notification, to help make the message more eye-catching and engaging, Brigham says.

City Gear can segment its app shoppers by geographic region or by information in a shopper’s account, but typically the retailer sends a blast to all of its app users, especially if it’s about a shoe release, he says.

Overall, mobile shoppers are “very important” to City Gear, and about 70% of its web traffic is via a mobile devices, he says.

“People have come to the realization that you have to engage with your customers [on mobile] because that’s where so many spend the majority of our time,” he says.


City Gear has sold online since 2008. However, e-commerce sales are less than 3% of City Gear’s overall sales, as it operates around 135 physicals stores, which are mostly located in the South.

Because its stores are regional, the e-commerce site is helpful to reach shoppers nationwide, Brigham says. Mobile app builder Shopgate Inc. built the app for City Gear and helps market it to generate more app downloads across the U.S. Shopgate mostly does this with Facebook ads, Brigham says.

Still, City Gear is working to get more of its store shoppers to be online shoppers with in-store signage about its app, Brigham says.