August 31, 2005, 12:00 AM

How multiple channels help refine its Internet game plan is using TV, catalogs and its relationship with Foot Locker to drive sales to the web and make the Internet the NFL’s fastest growing merchandising channel.

A diversified multi-channel platform and a database of 15 million customers are helping the National Football League drive more sales to, its six-year-old e-commerce site. Today, the web accounts for about 50% of all sales at the NFL’s direct marketing arm and in 2005, which draws more than 2 million monthly visitors, will generate e-commerce revenues of about $32 million.

The site’s main e-commerce customers are displaced fans who order their team-affiliated and NFL-licensed apparel and accessories at, says Perry Cooper, director of database and cross-channel marketing at the NFL.

To drive more sales to the web, the NFL closely studies the purchasing habits and buying intentions of its large customer base, which includes 13 million football fans who receive the NFL’s periodic catalogs. “We’ve always been a multi-channel retailer and we use our various channels to study our buyer behavior that result in improvements to our web store,” Cooper says.

For instance,, No. 186 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, recently simplified the process by which customers can order a personalized jersey, hat or other accessory. The ordering processing is the same online as in the catalog and shoppers can now use a catalog quick order feature to speed up their e-commerce transaction.

Because the NFL has integrated its various customer files into one database is also implementing new personalized cross-selling strategies, including a series of pop-up messages for different audiences. One set of pop-up messages will show related products a shopper might be interested in based on his purchasing history. Another set of pop-ups may be shown to a first-time shopper offering suggestions of other merchandise to go with their purchase of a personalized jersey.

In addition to its catalog and web site, the NFL also sells its licensed apparel on a weekly show during the professional football season on the Home Shopping Network and in Foot Locker stores. For the past seven years Foot Locker Inc. has operated’s e-commerce operations and performs certain marketing and merchandising functions.

As the result of being a diversified retailer, has an average online sales conversion rate that ranges from 6% to 8% in the off-season to about double those figures during the holidays, playoffs and Super Bowl.

“The web is our fastest growing channel,” Cooper says.



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