With many teams-based recreational activities on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some consumers picked up fishing—a hobby they could enjoy alone or with their families.

And Catch Co.—which is a consumer brand manufacturer and parent company to online merchants fishing gear e-retailer Karl’s Bait & Tackle Shop and fishing supplies subscription box retailer Mystery Tackle Box—quickly noticed an increase in online sales for its own ecommerce sites when stores shuttered in spring 2020.

At first, Catch Co. was concerned about sales dipping because it wholesales some of its products to sporting goods retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods (No. 29 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000) and Academy Sports + Outdoors (No. 129), both of which temporarily shuttered in the early months of the pandemic, says Geoffrey Champlin, chief strategy officer for Catch Co.

“But it went from very scary uncertainty to scrambling to keep up to meet consumer demand,” he says. “Then you saw UPS and the postal service getting backed up, shipping times extending. So, we went from uncertainty on the demand side to then having to meet the demand we were seeing.”

Catch Co. says consumer demand has tapered this year, causing its online sales and traffic to drop. “We’re seeing a lot of the COVID newcomers stick with the sport, but people are going to restaurants and the movies again while fishing was a more isolated activity,” Champlin says. “The retention is strong for the COVID cohort but we’re seeing a dip in [traffic and sales].”

Thus, the fishing supplies company wanted to find a way to draw shoppers back in and keep them on its site. To do that, Catch Co. needed to strengthen its personalization strategy. “Modern ecommerce requires personalization; it’s beginning to be the status quo,” Champlin says.

He adds that this is especially true in fishing. When shoppers are browsing its ecommerce site Karl’s Bait & Tackle, it’s important for them to be able to browse by the species of fish they’re planning to catch, the region in which they’re fishing and personal fishing supplies preferences.

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