"We want to win," "the opportunities are huge," "scale" - anyone who hears Jacqueline Smith-Dubendorfer speak immediately senses that the manager is on a mission. Or as Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted puts it: in "full execution mode."
As Vice President Digital Partner Commerce, Smith-Dubendorfer is jointly responsible for the digital offensive of the sports company from Herzogenaurach. While online sales with the company's own platforms amounted to 1.6 billion euros in 2017, this figure is expected to rise to four billion by 2020. Whether via its own online store, via partners such as Zalando, via social media or its own app: Adidas wants to sell as many products as possible directly to the end customer in order to increase margins.
Some stationary retailers are unhappy when, for example, the new jersey of the German national soccer team is initially sold exclusively on Adidas' own platforms. As part of the ISPO Digitize Summit, ISPO.com had the opportunity to hear Jacqueline Smith-Dubendorfer explain Adidas' strategic partnerships. Her area has been repositioned to promote exchange with retailers.
ISPO.com: Some of the smaller sports retailers fear that they won't be able to keep up with Adidas' digitization. Can you understand these concerns?
Jacqueline Smith-Dubendorfer: Of course. The large retailers also share these fears - after all, digitization doesn't just happen at Adidas. But I think it's important to look ahead. If retailers disregard the dynamics of the market and fail to meet consumer expectations, they will struggle to evolve and keep pace.
The speed at which retail is changing right now is enormous.
Absolutely. And if you're not adapting to it as a retailer or business, you're going to struggle. But the beauty of digitization is that everyone can participate. There are new entry points, new brands and new retailers. Digitization allows them to start small and grow quickly.
Please look back for us. What was it like when you expanded Adidas' online activities?
We started with our sales site in 2010, we were only in seven markets at the time. When we announced at the time that we were investing in our own online business to gain important experience, many people wondered: Why are they doing this? Well, from today's perspective, I can say: You can't have a say, you're not credible if you haven't tried it yourself.
And you should be right about that.
Suddenly we are in 2018 and talking about a few billion euros in sales. With that, we have shown: Yes, we are a big company, but a lot can still be done in a short time. That's what I call the "beauty of the digital world." Even if you're a small retailer or a small brand, you have the opportunity to grow quickly. But you have to create the conditions for it. And you have to know what environment you're in.
What is Adidas doing for retailers to bring them along on the digitalization train?
At the moment, we are focusing on our existing major partners and want to accompany them even more closely. We make sure they are successful and move from offline to online mode to attract consumers. But basically our expertise is available to all retailers. Our goal is to help in order to be successful in the transition to online business.
Is it mainly about website integrations or how can we imagine this help from Adidas?
We have systems in place today that allow us to distribute content anywhere from a single location. A one-stop shop online where retailers can order, reorder or reschedule products. We will continue to invest in these programs, which we originally developed for our own online business, to become even better.
If we imagine a small, traditional sports store whose owner wants to be actively involved in digitization. Can he contact Adidas and simply ask for support?
We don't have unlimited resources, of course, so we have to make sure that today's big players make this transformation first. But we still try to support small retailers as well. And it's not just about us, it's about the entire sporting goods industry. Ultimately, the most important thing is the consumer, who needs to know where they're getting the products from.
So your advice to this retailer would be to network and build up online activities together with others?
What is digitalization all about? It's about bringing people together in a community, and learning. Whether you're a big player, a start-up, or a traditional retailer, everyone has a responsibility to our industry, so we should be brave, share our knowledge, and actively shape the future. We live in a world of change. It always starts with attitude.
We heard a lot about the right attitude towards digitization at the ISPO Digitize Summit. How did you like this new format from ISPO?
I think it's a great investment. The sporting goods industry needs exactly this kind of thing: developing ideas, having open discussions, challenging yourself, getting food for thought, making decisions, going out and making it happen - that's how our industry stays profitable and in growth mode. Formats like the ISPO Digitize Summit create the right conditions to keep growing.
Let's imagine a small sports shop rich in tradition, whose owner wants to be active in digitization. Can he contact Adidas and ask for support?
Of course there’s not unlimited resource. So we have to make sure that the major players today make that transformation first. However, we also try to support small retailers. It is not just about us, it’s about the whole sports industry. The most important thing is the consumer who needs know, where he can get the products.
So your advice to this retailer would be to network and build something together with others?
What is digitization about? It is about bringing people in a community together to share and to learn. If you’re a big player, a start-up or a traditional retailer: Everyone bears responsibility for our sports industry, so we should be brave, come together, share our knowledge and actively shape the future. We’re living in a world of change. The starting point is the mindset.
We heard a lot about the right attitude towards digitization at the ISPO Digitize Summit. How did you like this new format by ISPO?
I think it’s a fantastic investment. The sports industry needs this. Bringing people together, creating ideas, having open discussions, challenging yourself, learning about tomorrow, making those decisions, going out and committing to do it – that’s how our industry stays profitable and stays in a growth mode. We’re one of few industries that are still growing. We’re lucky. And we need to keep growing. And formats like the ISPO Digitize Summit create the right conditions to continue growing.