Stores at the Center of Hibbett Sports' Digital Strategy
Hibbett Sports, an athletic-inspired fashion retailer that operates 1,100-plus stores in smaller markets across 35 states, was decidedly late in building an e-commerce business. The company didn't launch an e-commerce site until late 2017. Despite its late start, however, Hibbett Sports has successfully grown its e-commerce business with the help of an unlikely source: its brick-and-mortar stores.
"We were 20 years late to the party, so you better be good when you walk in," said Bill Quinn, vice president, digital commerce, Hibbett Sports, in reference to the company's late, but strong, entrance into the world of e-commerce. Quinn was speaking during a session yesterday at IRCE @ RetailX in Chicago.
While prepping to launch its e-commerce business, Hibbett Sports sought out the feedback of its customers to determine what features they wanted from the online shopping experience. Specifically, Hibbett Sports wanted to learn the demand for two programs: buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS); and reserve online, pick up in-store (ROPIS). What the retailer learned was that there was significant demand for both. Sixty percent of customers preferred BOPIS, with the other 40 percent preferring ROPIS. In order to please all of its customers, Hibbett Sports decided to offer both BOPIS and ROPIS.
As Quinn noted, the launch of Hibbett Sports' e-commerce business had a decidedly omnichannel flavor to it. From day one, the retailer offered the following services:
- ship from store;
- the ability to check store inventory in real time on product pages;
- the ability to return online purchases to store locations;
- store locator pages for all 1,100-plus stores; and
- a fully integrated loyalty program.
Quinn's philosophy is that if you have a great system with the right technology underpinning it, such as he believed Hibbett Sports had for its BOPIs, ROPIS and other omnichannel programs, then don't wait to roll it out. Which is what Hibbett Sports did.
Specific to BOPIS, which was launched roughly a year after the e-commerce site went live, Hibbett Sports guarantees that its products will be available to customers for pick up in 90 minutes or less. This system is supported by a robust email and text communication stream that provides customers with a real-time monitoring of their order status, Quinn said.
"We didn't want to do BOPIS just to check the box or to be able to tell management that we had did it," said Quinn. "We wanted to provide a service that was a real value to our customers."
Selling to 'Sneakerheads'
A growing part of Hibbett Sports' business, as it is for many athletic brands, is the sale of in-demand sneakers from brands such as Nike and Adidas. The retailer saw that new sneaker launches were generating a high percentage of sales for both the e-commerce site and physical stores. The challenge was having the supply to meet the overwhelming demand from "sneakerheads" to have the latest and greatest sneaker on the market. Hibbett Sports had a unique solution to this challenge: it created a raffle system within its mobile app, with the raffle winners given the opportunity to buy the sneakers at the retail price.
Quinn put this in perspective with a recent example. He cited the recent launch of the Jordan 1 Retro High Off-White University Blue sneaker from Nike. The retail price, which raffle winners were given the chance to purchase at, was $190. For those unlucky enough to win the raffle, they were looking at spending more than $1,000 on secondary markets to get the sought-after sneaker.
"Demand typically outpaces supply, which causes pricing to escalate quickly on secondary markets," Quinn noted. "It's an emotional roller coaster for 'sneakerheads.'"
The "sneakerhead" segment is growing, upwards of 30 percent of Gen Z males and 20 percent of Gen Z females, said Quinn. Therefore, Hibbett Sports thought it was worthwhile to create a program that caters to this audience, helping attract them to the brand.
"They're looking for clarity on the process, communication to be really good, and fairness [they have a fair shot at getting the shoes]," Quinn said. Hibbett Sports believes it's giving them that via the sneaker raffles it conducts within its mobile app.
Defined Approach to Strategic Projects
Launching an e-commerce site, as well as ship from store, BOPIS, ROPIS and other programs all within a year was a massive undertaking, conceded Quinn. However, to help manage the various projects, Quinn and his team relied on a defined process: Start by gathering voice-of-the customer data and benchmarking data; create best-in-class design, such as Hibbett Sports did for its mobile app; conduct informal user testing, such as asking employees and family members to test; conduct a test pilot; if the pilot proves successful, quickly roll out across the organization; and lastly, continually monitor, refine and improve upon.
This process has worked exceedingly well for Hibbett Sports. Quinn wrapped up his presentation by sharing the following results from Hibbett Sports' digital transformation:
- e-commerce sales accounted for roughly 5 percent of total company sales within the first 90 days of the e-commerce site going live;
- e-commerce sales account for roughly 10 percent of total company sales 18 months post-launch;
- 50 percent comp growth in the last three quarters; and
- in-store traffic from BOPIS and ROPIS has produced a 20 percent attachment rate (i.e., additional purchases made while in-store).