Case Study: Road Runner Sports Keeping Pace
Well aware of the roulette of buying running shoes, Gotfredson created a catalog model that improves a shopper’s odds.
His first step was to offer shoes at a discount. Next, he and his team test every single shoe for size, fit, wear and other attributes—such as whether the shoe is good for long distance, racing or rough terrain; and whether the shoe offers cushion, stability or support. He provides runners with detailed information about what size to order in relation to their street shoe size, such as the Avia 2079, which runs a full size small. He backs every purchase with a 30-day guarantee and return policy if the shoe or merchandise hasn’t been worn on the street. But RRS’s ultimate service option is the Run America Club (RAC).
RAC Members spend $19.99 annually for a 5-percent discount on all purchases, shipping upgrades and a 60-day unconditional guarantee and return policy. So, a runner can try the shoes for two months and if they don’t work, the customer can return them for a full refund. At first glance, it seems like an opportunity for abuse. But most shoppers use the policy legitimately and the annual fee helps negate the cost of the program. The return policy is an expensive one, but Gotfredson has found a solution for that, too. He resells the previously worn shoes in the RRS retail store in San Diego.
More than 500,000 of RRS’s 2.4 million customers are RAC members.
“In 2000, 14 percent of business came from runners who joined RAC in 1988. It is the number one [marketing initiative] we have done over the years,” says Gotfredson.
RRS sells more than 250,000 pairs of shoes a year. Frequent, quality communication with its customers has paved the way to success. What is most important in RRS’s communications is how they speak to runners. Every bit of copy is written with a runner’s psyche.