February 22, 2006, 12:00 AM

Bodybuilding.com to get personal after beefy 2005 sales

Bodybuilding.com is strengthening its personalization features to foster routine relationships with customers and implementing tactics including additional community-oriented features.

Bodybuilding.com is getting bigger. It’s building on the personalization features of its web site to foster routine, one-on-one relationships with existing and prospective customers. The company is implementing tactics outlined in a recently completed strategic plan that calls for increased site personalization and additional community-oriented features.

Making the online experience as personal as possible is a way to earn the confidence of shoppers and cultivate customer retention, says CEO Ryan DeLuca.

“Customers have to trust experts to tell them which workouts are best and which supplements work. The problem is that many experts are not there to offer truth or really be helpful-they’re there to make money,” DeLuca contends. “Bodybuilding.com always has had the philosophy that people deserve to know the absolute truth. This is one of the main reasons we have an open forum and allow many people from around the world to contribute articles. This year we will take this to a whole new level and give more control of the site to the customer.”

The enhanced site will enable customers to sign up for free accounts. The site then will use information they enter and data on how they use the site to customize customers’ site visits. Once signed in, Bodybuilding.com will offer such personalized features as order status, product recommendations, replies to questions asked in the discussion forum, reminders to post personal pictures in the forum gallery to be critiqued by other members, and personal workout information and reminders.

Bodybuilding.com is a bodybuilding and fitness web site with 17,000 pages of content and more than 5,000 products, including supplements, meal replacements, clothing and accessories. The company, No. 160 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, carries more than 300 brands, including EAS, Prolab, Optimum, South Beach Diet and others. Its online library includes nearly 10,000 articles on health, nutrition, weight training, bodybuilding and other topics.

In 2005 online sales grew 43% to $46.6 million compared with $32.7 million in 2004. Total sales in 2005 grew 41.2% to $46.8 million compared with $33.1 million the previous year. The average ticket at Bodybuilding.com is $79.

Last year the company launched a bodybuilding radio show and podcast, along with a web-based video program. It also upgraded its shopping cart, site search and back-end systems.

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