Joscha Thieringer
Joscha Thieringer

Adidas Symposium at ISPO Digitize: This is how digitization is changing the sports business

Adidas is back at ISPO Munich – “because ISPO is walking new paths”

“Digitization influences every person and every branch of industry” – Roland Auschel, Joseph Godsey and Günter Althaus could only underline this statement from Trade Fair Boss Klaus Dittrich. The representatives of Adidas and Sport 2000 presented their vision for a new, digital world in the sports business at the Adidas Symposium in the ISPO Digitize Area. The event was very well received by industry experts. With its return to ISPO Munich, Adidas wishes to “show our solidarity with specialist retail trade”.

Adidas Executive Board Member of Global Sales Auschel explains how Adidas is driving digitalization forward - and why the sporting goods giant is back at ISPO Munich. "We want to show our attachment to the specialist trade."

According to its own information, Adidas already employs 1300 digital and IT experts. The sports giant, which invests enormous sums into digitization, is nevertheless back at ISPO Munich, where people meet face to face. How does that fit together? Above all, “because ISPO is walking new paths and today offers much more than the opportunity for a physical product presentation.”

These words come from Roland Auschel, Executive Board Member Global Sales at Adidas. The manager is convinced by the digital offers that ISPO, as a sports business network, offers alongside its trade fairs in Munich, Beijing and Shanghai. After all, along has reached more than 7.5 million people with its over 6500 articles since January 2016.

“ISPO is a forerunner in digitization”

Digitization is a reason why Adidas and ISPO are reviving their coopoeration again. A cooperation within the scope of ISPO Digitize; an area in Hall A4 is dedicated to the sports network’s latest initiative. Right next to it, the Adidas symposium took place. “I would like to thank Adidas for shaping this area together with us,” says Klaus Dittrich, Chairman of the Management of Messe München.

“Digitization changes the future and has already disruptively influenced numerous business areas,” said Dittrich and highlighted the significance of ISPO also within Messe München. “In digitization, ISPO is a forerunner in our portfolio.”

No data, no business

It is the time of people - such as Joseph Godsey. Ten years ago, the young manager would perhaps still have been laughed at for his approaches; today he is the Head of Digital Brand Commerce at Adidas. Anyone who is not open to new ideas endangers their company’s fitness for the future. An example: “Hardly anyone thought that it would so quickly be possible to make online shopping with smartphones so simple,” said Godsey in his exciting talk.

By now, 70 percent of Adidas’ online traffic is mobile. In 2020 it will be 85 percent, Godsey believes. For the success of e-commerce it is fundamentally important to collect user data and to create an individual user journey. “Before a transaction is made, the consumer has been in contact with us an average of four times,” reports the Adidas Manager. And anyone who does not know who they are dealing with will not sell anything, either: “It’s no use offering a yoga fan new soccer shoes.”

Zwischensohle aus dem 3D-Drucker: Mit dem Futurecraft 4D geht Adidas revolutionäre Wege. Bald kann ein passgenauer Schuh innerhalb eines Tages individualisiert hergestellt werden. 
Adidas is leading the way in terms of digitization. Examples: the Speedfactory and the new Futurecraft 4D. Adidas Executive Board Member Roland Auschel explains in an interview what this means for production and processes.

Adidas is focussing on progressive retailers

Not everyone likes the way Adidas promotes its own E-commerce. “Of course I am familiar with the arguments, concerns and problems of the stationary retailers,” says Roland Auschel. “In the past year I spoke with many of them. For many, the online purchaser is still an opponent who steals their sales.” But the train is unstoppable. “We are simply there, where our consumer is,” said Auschel. “And because our consumer has obviously chosen the digital sales channel, we are also systematically driving direct sales through our E-commerce platforms.”

The market price of Adidas’ shares proves Auschel right: “Even today, E-commerce is the strongest growing sales channel. We will disproportionately increase our sales in this area to four billion Euro by 2020.” And nevertheless there is room for retailers, Auschel stressed: As experts for trust, as experts for communication and as experts for awareness of life. “Adidas focuses very clearly on only those retailers who do not doubt themselves in the matter of the internet, who orchestrate and encourage, advise competently and create an atmosphere that stands for sport, team spirit and passion.”

ISPO: “Our business is creating valuable connections”

ISPO therefore demonstrates passion. On the path to the digital platform for sports professionals, errors have also been made. Tobias Gröber, Director of the ISPO Group, openly admits this. With a wink of his eye, he thanks his superior: “Thank you, Klaus Dittrich, that I can still stand on this stage.”

Gröber has already been working at ISPO since 1997 – since then, the business model has fundamentally changed. “Our business is no longer selling square meters, but creating valuable connections.”

Analog and digital – both can work. “We must build bridges between the old and the new world,” stresses Trade Fair Boss Klaus Dittrich. “And both areas must show respect for the achievements of the other.”

Sport 2000 meets the challenge

There, Günter Althaus could only agree. By his own admission, the CEO of the ANWR GROUP, the parent group of Sport 2000, is faced with a particular challenge: “Imagine that you had to teach a one hundred year old society how digitization works,” said Althaus on the ISPO Digitize Stage.

The most difficult step is the “cultural change: We believe that we can only cope with digitization if we try things out. And part of this is also falling on our faces three times. And only after that will it be really good.”

Joscha Thieringer
Joscha Thieringer
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