August 5, 2009, 12:00 AM

Golfsmith tees up an e-commerce site redesign slices away shopper obstacles to key online functions by repositioning navigation and customer ratings and reviews and enhancing social media tools as the multichannel retailer looks to exploit its e-commerce site.

Golfsmith International Holdings Inc. has relaunched, its e-commerce site, to give shoppers easier access to products and information. The web site is a vital-and growing-part of the multichannel golf and tennis products retailer’s business, says Matt Corey, senior vice president of marketing and business development. Web site upgrades include a repositioned navigation tool, home and product page redesign that give greater access to customer ratings and reviews, and expanded use of social media.

Overall revenue was down 12% in the second quarter of fiscal 2009 ended July 4, to $114.8 million from $130 million in the prior year quarter. Direct-to-consumer sales were $16.7 million in Q2 2009, down 28% from $23.2 million in the prior year quarter, and down 27% year to date from $39.5 million in the first half of fiscal 2008 to $29 million.

E-commerce and catalogs comprise 20% of Golfsmith’s sales, with the other 80% coming from its stores. Corey wasn’t saying how much of the 20% was attributable to the web, but notes that the e-commerce channel is growing.

Helping to jump-start more direct sales, Golfsmith moved its global navigation from the left side of the home page to the top and now carries it through on all pages. Subcategories beneath six main tabs now pop up when shoppers roll over the headings, offering instant access.

Golfsmith moved its global navigation to the page top to increase exposure to its core business categories-golf products, club-making and tennis, Corey tells Internet Retailer. The retailer also repositioned its LiveHelp, shopping cart and store locator at the top of all pages., No. 172 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, decided it was time to upgrade based on several factors, Corey says. “It was a combination of adopting best practices from across the web retailing industry, feedback from customers through our contact center or other means, and our own usability team’s suggestions to improve the site,” he says. Most of the site upgrades were developed in-house.

Other site upgrades include repositioning customer ratings and reviews more prominently on the home page and all subsequent pages, and greater use of social media. An early user of customer ratings and reviews, now carries them through the entire site. “We dramatically increased exposure to the customer ratings and reviews because we know customers love them. They rely on the customer community to help them understand product benefits,” Corey says. Greater exposure to the ratings and reviews, built on technology from Bazaarvoice, has paid off: doubled the average number of reviews it collects daily since rollout. also added Ask & Answer, a social media tool also developed by Bazaarvoice, which enables shoppers to ask specific product questions of the retailer’s community of resources. The community includes other shoppers, golf and tennis product manufacturers and affiliate merchants.

The retailer has been using Facebook and Twitter sites since April, Corey says, and now has about 6,000 Facebook Friends and 1,000 Twitter followers. That’s all without any external marketing efforts, he adds. Corey expects those numbers to grow and that social media can drive sales. “We think social media is absolutely driving sales and retailers are just beginning to take advantage of it,” he says.

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