Hibbett’s new omnichannel features are both good for shoppers, as it give them another option to receive the product quickly, and for Hibbett’s bottom line, as it saves the retailer on shipping costs.

Hibbett Sporting Goods Inc. is launching new features to enhance its omnichannel operations and cater to the important omni-shopper, says Bill Quinn, vice president of digital commerce.

Today, the athletic apparel and sporting goods retailer announced that it is rolling out buy online, pick up in store and reserve online, pick up in store at all of its approximately 1,100 stores.

Bill Quinn, vice president of digital commerce. Hibbett

Bill Quinn, vice president of digital commerce, Hibbett Sports Inc.

Reserve in store is a similar service to buy online, pick up in store, in which a store employee will hold products for a shopper, who will come to the store, and then decide whether to make the purchase. This service is convenient for a shopper who wants to quickly try on shoes for size, prefers to pay in cash, worries about package security at her home or prefers to see the merchandise in person before making a purchase, Quinn says. Hibbett will hold the product until close of business the following day from when the shopper made the reservation. For both services, Hibbett will have the product available for shoppers in store within 90 minutes.

While Quinn knows buy online, pick up in store is not a new concept, it was only a year ago, in August 2017, that Hibbett launched its e-commerce site. About 7-8% of Hibbett’s sales are online, he says.

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The new features are both good for shoppers, as it gives them more options to receive the product quickly, and for Hibbett’s bottom line, as it saves the retailer on shipping costs, Quinn says.

Holiday shoppers we believe are omnichannel shoppers.

Last year, in anticipation of wanting to roll out one of these services, Hibbett surveyed more than 1,000 of its loyalty program customers. About 60% of shoppers said they would prefer for Hibbett to roll out buy online, pick up in store, and 40% said they’d prefer reserve online, pick up in store. Although not the majority, 40% is still a sizable chunk of shoppers, Quinn says. And so, in January, Hibbett decided it would work to offer both of those services.

The first order of business was cleaning up its store-level inventory to ensure it was accurate, Quinn says.

“We audited our inventory looking for reasons why the inventory was off and found that there were a few root causes,” Quinn says. For example, now when a store receives new inventory, Hibbett employees are to verify it is the correct order and note any discrepancies into its inventory management system.

The retailer already has omnichannel functionality in place, including ship from store, which is when stores fulfill online orders, and shop your store, which allows shoppers to browse their nearby store’s inventory. From those features, the retailer learned a lot, including that its inventory accuracy could be improved.

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Because Hibbett already offered those omnichannel services, training employees didn’t take very long because the new features use the same system as ship from store, Quinn says.

Hibbett stores are about 5,000 square feet, and have only two to three employees working at any given time, Quinn says. Online orders that a store is tapped to fulfill–either by shipping, reserving or preparing to pick up—are sent to the computer behind the counter. The dashboard is color coded, so employees can see how urgent an order is. For example, a BOPIS order would be red if it was five minutes until the 90-minute window was up.

Once the employee marks an order is ready, the system sends that shopper an email that her order is ready, as well as a text message, if she has opted in for that service. Shoppers can pick up their order or reserved order from the normal checkout counter, Quinn says.

To work out the kinks before launch, Hibbett also conducted a usability study. Consumers shopped the site and used the BOPIS and reserve features, as well as provided feedback on how to make the experience cleaner.

Hibbett started piloting the service at a few of its stores near its Birmingham, Alabama, headquarters in August.

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Already, the pilot stores have a lower “reject rate” or a store saying that it can’t fulfill the order, than the initial ship-from-store reject rate, Quinn says. He attributes this to Hibbett’s work on cleaning up its inventory. He had no other results to share.

hibbett shop your storeThe retailer will measure the program’s success by customer adoption rate, a net increase in traffic from the feature and if shoppers who come into the store for a reservation or purchase make any additional purchases while in the store.

Quinn is especially pleased to have launched the feature before the holidays. This way, it can make sure that the program is running smoothly before the peak season hits.

“Holiday shoppers we believe are omnichannel shoppers,” Quinn says.

Hibbett used several vendors for this project since the changes impacted its e-commerce site, its order management system and its store order broker system, Quinn says. He would not reveal which vendors nor the retailer’s investment.

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