Why Dick’s Sporting Items is betting large on bodily retail

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Lauren Hobart, President and Chief Executive of Dick’s Sporting Goods, recently spoke to investors about the new business as a testing and learning center during an earnings meeting.

“One thing that has become very, very clear to us this year is that our businesses are a tremendous asset to us as part of our overall omni-channel ecosystem,” she said. “And we see our store growth and our e-commerce growth as very symbiotic hand in hand.” Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to continue experimenting with prototypes of various stores.

This is the strategy retailers followed before the pandemic when they looked for new ways to connect with consumers and deliver unique experiences in the digital age. While the giant flagships of retail of the 90s are in decline as retailers re-evaluate their real estate portfolios, stores that sell more than just products are still valuable to a brand. The coronavirus hasn’t deterred such plans for some retailers, including Lululemon. Last year it said it was very committed to plans for adventure shops.

“Experience stores are still very important – customers know about it,” said Lee Peterson, executive vice president of thought leadership and marketing at WD retail consultancy, which has Dick’s Sporting Goods as a client. “Dick’s has a climbing wall, a batting cage … suddenly you want to go there.” He says while many of his customers are still thinking about their overall business strategies, he expects retailers to keep investing in the future.

In a survey last year, Shopkick found that 82% of consumers are more likely to purchase an item after seeing, holding, or trying a product in a store.

After the new store opens, Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to open new warehouse locations, experimental soccer stores, and a group of redesigned Golf Galaxy locations. A second House of Sport will open later that year in Knoxville, Tennessee. With consumers focused on outdoor sports and sportswear during the pandemic, the Pittsburgh-based retailer saw a sales advantage. Last year Dick’s Sporting Goods saw net sales grow 10% to $ 9.6 billion. E-commerce sales increased 100% over the course of the year.

Want to learn more about retailers’ post-pandemic strategies? Visit Ad Age Next: Retail, a digital event on April 20th. Buy your ticket here.

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