“You could have the world’s most functional website, but if what you have on it isn’t beautiful and popular and selling well, and you’re not merchandising it well, it doesn’t matter,” said Stephanie Linnartz, president and CEO at Under Armour Inc. In a one-on-one interview with Digital Commerce 360 at Under Armour’s Michigan Avenue store in Chicago, she explained where she wants to take the 27-year-old sportswear company, both as a business and brand.
Linnartz joined Under Armour in February and is the company’s first female CEO. In her previous role, she served as president at Marriott International. She said that she has a vision for where she wants to take Under Armour’s website and app. To start, she believes the sportswear brand has “a lot of work to do” to improve its ecommerce functionality and how it sells its merchandise.
Under Armour is No. 97 in the Top 1000. The Digital Commerce 360 database ranks North America’s leading online retailers by their web sales.
Under Armour focuses on ecommerce platforms
Ecommerce at Under Armour represents “a mid-teen percentage rate” of global revenue, Under Armour shared with Digital Commerce 360. Under Armour also shared that ecommerce represents about 40% of the brand’s direct-to-consumer business.
The brand defines direct-to-consumer sales as those that originate in its physical stores or on its website or app. It also sells wholesale through merchants including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon and Foot Locker.
Under Armour already uses artificial intelligence on its website for search and for personalization, Linnartz said. It also uses AI in its supply chain for end-to-end planning. And whereas many retailers have jumped to implement generative AI into their technology suites, Linnartz wants her company’s investment to be intentional and impactful.
“Whether it’s AI or anything else, you need to be very purposeful in the use case,” Linnartz said. “I think companies can run around trying to do a gazillion things. We’re going to be very focused. Where does this technology, AI or otherwise, help us drive our business results?”
Under Armour’s holiday sales numbers are not public yet, but the attention paid to its website in advance can be seen in its load times. Web performance vendor Blue Triangle found that Under Armour had a strong day among online retail’s best performers during the Cyber 5. Blue Triangle bases its website performance ranking on metrics such as Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures the time a website takes to show a user the largest content on the screen, complete and ready for interaction.
Under Armour ranked No. 11 among Top 1000 retailers for best LCP on Cyber Monday, according to Blue Triangle data. The retailer’s LCP was 0.452, according to the platform. The retailer with the fastest LCP was Thread Pit Inc., at 0.200, according to Blue Triangle. According to Google’s Core Web Vitals Team, an LCP of 2.5 seconds or faster is considered good. An LCP between 2.5 and 4.0 seconds needs improvement, and greater than 4.0 seconds is considered poor.
Ecommerce growth plans start with youth, digital marketing
Under Armour’s target audience is 16-to-24-year-old team-sport athletes, according to Linnartz.
“We want to appeal to that target consumer across every demographic, across every religion, across every part of the world,” Linnartz told Digital Commerce 360. She added that Under Armour wants to “focus on being a company that values diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Linnartz said more than 75% of Under Armour sales are to men. Among her goals at Under Armour is to increase the brand’s sales to women. Part of that comes with effective marketing. She explained that the way Under Armour markets and speaks to women is different than how it does to men. She also said Under Armour inventory will begin to appear in more boutiques and department stores to help grow the brand’s presence.
To reach more women and youth, Linnartz stated, Under Armour is going where they are. Social media plays a large role in that, specifically Instagram and TikTok.
“A lot of 16-to-24-year-olds are not watching linear TV,” Linnartz said. “It’s not that we will do nothing on TV or outdoor or any of that, but we are really shifting our marketing spend to more digital, to more ‘always on.’ Furthermore, more product-based marketing, really using our assets.”
Loyalty program boosts digital expansion
Linnartz said engaging Under Armour customers where they are is a “top priority with web and app engagement.” Included in that push for engagement is the late-July launch of Under Armour’s loyalty program, UA Rewards.
“The launch and success of our loyalty program has been an important piece in engaging new and existing customers, where results have shown increased engagement and conversion levels,” Linnartz assessed. She added that Under Armour is “always looking for additional ways to drive omnichannel value.”
In the retailer’s 2024 fiscal second quarter ended Sept. 30, 2023, Under Armour reported that UA Rewards had surpassed 1 million members in its first few months.
“So far, UA Rewards members are almost twice as likely to make a repeat purchase and return to the brand within 90 days. So early points on the board in building greater brand love and loyalty,” Linnartz had said in an earnings call with investors at the time.
When the brand launched UA Rewards, Linnartz told Digital Commerce 360, “a lucky winner got to take an all-expense-paid trip to Baltimore to spend the day with Steph Curry. So it’s all about experiences. Of course, you get points for every dollar you spend, but it’s also, ‘How can we have lucky winners go to a Notre Dame game or meet with one of our athletes? How can we give points for challenges or exercise? How can we do exclusive drops for our loyalty members?’ You’re going to get first, early access.”
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