Lars Becker

"No one can stop us"

Agility and Omnichannel: The future of sports retail

Agility, (virtual) customer proximity and omnichannel - these are the most important success factors for sports retail during and after Corona. The experts at the ISPO Re.Start Days are very optimistic about the future of the retail sector.

Retail Panel: Die Zukunft des Handels während und nach Corona
Retail Panel mit Jost Wiebelhaus (CEO Frankfurter Laufshop), Jan Maurer (Bächli), Michael Benner (Director of Purchasing Internetstores), Frederic Hufkens (CEO A.S. Adventure Group), Richard Thomas (Vertriebs- und Marketingleitung Endura) und Bettina Beringer (CEO  Beeathletica). Moderatorin: Anny Cardinahl (Head of #ODLX OUTDOOR DELUXE)

Despite Corona - the core sentence of Stefan Herzog at the ISPO Re.Start Days was almost euphoric. "If we keep the agility we developed during the crisis, nobody can stop us", said the president of FEDAS, the Federation of European Sporting Goods Retail Associations. Agility was the most frequently used word in the panel discussion and the workshop on the topic of the "Future of Retail".

"Tremendous boost for digital transformation"

Holger Schwarting, board member of Sport 2000 in Austria, for example, explained what this really means. During the Corona period, the long-awaited online store for members of the sports retailer network was rolled out. "We had the courage and said: We'll just do it now. In one fell swoop, 100 retailers said they were going to join in. Such numbers would have been unthinkable four months ago." Not only because of this, Stefan Herzog explained that "the Corona crisis was a tremendous boost for the sports retail industry when it comes to digital transformation".

Jost Wiebelhaus from the Frankfurt Laufshop also saw the crisis as an opportunity for change. He had to close his running specialty shop in the heart of the metropolis for five weeks because of the pandemic. However, his team did not waste time complaining during the crisis, but launched new business models. "After all, we don't have an online shop, so we offered a delivery service from the first day of closure. Customers could order via Whatsapp. And instead of the video run analysis in the shop, customers could send us a video of themselves and photos and we would then pick out the best shoes together over the phone. That was a huge success," reported Wiebelhaus at the digital live lead conference for the sports and outdoor industry.

Megatrends sport, outdoor and sustainability accelerated

Direct contact with customers was also maintained via social media with seven specially produced videos. The result. After the reopening of the running shop, Wiebelhaus was downright overrun by interested people: "And the demand continues to grow. Of course, the running specialty store also benefits from the megatrends in sports, outdoor activities and sustainability accelerated by COVID-19. Especially the topics running, biking and camping holidays are experiencing a real boom, as Michael Benner (Internetstores) confirmed. That's why his company, just like Jan Maurer of the Swiss family business Bächli Bergsport or the "yoga queen" Bettina Beringer (Beeathletica), "looks very positively into the future".

"Very important role" for ISPO Re.Start Days and

However, it is important "not only to sell, but also to build relationships with customers," as Richard Thomas, Head of Marketing at Endura, noted. The magic word here is omnichannel - whether virtually via social media or personally in the store. According to Schwarting, this approach is "important to remain successful. According to Michael Nendwich (Managing President of FEDAS), events such as the ISPO Re.Start Days or the portal could "play a very important role in this".

After all, the Corona crisis has also shown that the sports industry can only be successful in the long term with the joint efforts of associations, brands and retailers. "Cooperation is the most important thing. Otherwise, at some point we will no longer be important to consumers," said Michael Benner. Jochen Schnell, former board member of Intersport and member of the vds competence team, therefore warned that the right conclusions must be drawn from the crisis: "Everyone must consistently work together openly with their data. Only in this way can the flow of goods be organized more efficiently. The motto is: Act and not react.

Winter sports: Thinking about suitable concepts already now

With regard to the subject of winter sports, for example, this means that suitable concepts have to be thought about now. Alpine skiing is likely to face more difficult months. On the other hand, sports such as cross-country skiing or touring, which do not take place in large groups, could benefit. "In this case, the specialist sports trade must already start thinking with the tourism authorities about how to organise groups of beginners for tourists", demanded Peter Bruggmann, Vice-President of FEDAS. With such agile ideas, the specialist sports trade could become one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Corona crisis, under the motto "Sport stays"...

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Lars Becker
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