August 23, 2006, 12:00 AM

SportsAuthority.com isn’t playing games with its customer personalization

Now that The Sports Authority Inc. has consolidated four retail e-commerce sites into one web store and completely redesigned SportsAuthority.com, it’s game time for the retailer’s next major emphasis: more personalization and multi-channel sales.

Now that The Sports Authority Inc. has consolidated four e-commerce sites into one web store and completely redesigned SportsAuthority.com, it is game time for the retailer’s next major emphasis: more personalization and multi-channel sales.

The Sports Authority has outsourced e-commerce platform management, fulfillment, customer service, online marketing and other functions to GSI Commerce Inc. since 2001, which frees up the retailer to focus on brand management, says Christy Clark, a Sports Authority e-commerce consultant and president of MCR Corp., a San Francisco retail consulting firm.

The Sports Authority and Gart Sports Co. merged in 2003 and for awhile operated four web sites, including SportsAuthority.com, GartSports.com, Sportmart.com and Oshmans.com. But a year ago SportsAuthority and GSI Commerce overhauled SportsAuthority.com and retrofitted the site with a cleaner layout, enhanced graphics, faster search and other upgrades.

Sports Authority, No. 140 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites , also added comparison charts, customer reviews, more detailed product specifications and other content. Today SportsAuthority.com carries more than 200,000 SKUs and recently added Nike shoes, clothing and accessories to its online inventory. The next major step is adding more personalization programs and achieving more multi-channel sales. For instance, the company is looking at introducing a buy-online/pick-up-in-store program in 2007 and adding more content and microsites that help customers make better buying decisions. “If a customer wants to spend $2,000 on a treadmill, we want to give them very specific information that talks about how the treadmill fits in with their goals, objectives and personal lifestyle,” Clark says.

To better understand buyer behavior, Sports Authority and GSI Commerce will be installing a new web analytics program from Omniture Inc. later this year or in early 2007. The retailer also recently expanded its payments options by rolling out PayPal and Bill Me Later from I4 Commerce. By the end of the year, SportsAuthority.com and GSI Commerce will also introduce Google Checkout.

“The redesigned web site will be the launching pad for doing more going forward with personalization and building up Sport’s Authority’s multi-channel strategy,” Clark says.

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