September 22, 2010, 5:45 PM

The Sports Authority checks in with a location-based promo

 The pilot program is just one element of a revised digital strategy.

Allison Enright

Editor

Lead Photo

The Sports Authority Inc. is testing location-based promotions by offering discounts to customers who check in at stores and sports stadiums using a location-based rewards iPhone application.

The rewards app comes from Loopt Inc., a social mapping company that allows users to check in wherever they are using their mobile phones and see where their friends are, similar to location-based services offered by Gowalla and Foursquare. The Loopt Star application, however, is a brand-driven forum where consumers interact with brands and get rewarded. The tagline for Loopt Star, to illustrate, is “go places, find friends, get stuff.”

The Sports Authority, No. 205 on Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, says participating in the Loopt Star program gives the multichannel retailer a new way to engage customers in a mutually rewarding way. “This is another way for us to interact with our customers outside of our doors,” says Jeff Schumacher, chief marketing and strategy officer at Sports Authority. The retailer already has location-based test programs running with Foursquare and Shopkick.

The Sports Authority program with Loopt Star provides $10 off any purchase to consumers who check in with the program while attending a professional sports event, or $10 off any purchase of $50 or more when consumers check in from Sports Authority stores. The vouchers, which are delivered directly to the iPhone, can be redeemed immediately in stores at checkout. They are not currently valid for online purchases. “We look at location-based offers as traffic drivers to our stores, so we can get a customer to our store more frequently or introduce a new customer to our store,” says Clay Cowan, vice president of e-commerce at Sports Authority.

The location-based mobile program is just one piece of a larger digital strategy for Sports Authority. Schumacher, who joined Sports Authority less than a year ago, says the retailer is redeveloping its iPhone application, mobile site and social media approach, as well as its offline marketing initiatives. “We’re completely revamping our marketing and digital strategy and are engaging a number of different capabilities, programs and partners as we expand our reach digitally,” he says.

Now that the company has brought more of its e-commerce management in house—it previously was managed by GSI Commerce Inc.—the company will be able to more easily control the look and feel of the online store and tie into the rest of its operations, Schumacher says. “We’ll be able to innovate far more rapidly than before. We’re planning game-changing capabilities for the site as well as the digital and social aspects around it,” he says.

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