November 21, 2009, 12:00 AM

Toys / Hobbies / Sporting Goods

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Content rides high

Performance Bicycle had a full agenda when it redesigned its web site this year: It wanted to tie the site to its stores as well as create a good shopping experience for its variety of bicycle-riding customers. On the cross-channel front, Performance made the store locator more prominent and added ship-to-store. On the shopper front, it now hosts nine self-produced videos on how-to topics (“How to change a tire”) with more in the works. “Our shoppers range from avid elite riders to families with kids,” says Lynnette Montgomery, vice president, direct marketing. “There are basic things we had to explain to some of them.” In addition, it beefed up its PDF how-to library and will add more. “We’ve had a huge focus on content,” Montgomery says. “The conversion rates on content have been very good.”
Game changer

As anyone who has ever played serious baseball or softball knows, the right glove is crucial to playing well and enjoying the game. But finding the best mitt isn’t always easy, whether it’s for a high school ace, an adult league player or a fledgling Little Leaguer. Rawlings Sporting Goods makes the search for a glove a whole new experience on Shoppers can search by criteria such as a player’s age, skill level and field position to find a glove in stock, then view their chosen mitt from multiple angles. They can also use the retail site’s Glove Design Tool to choose the type of leather, color, and style of webbing between the thumb and forefinger. “This gives our customers the ability to build their own custom gloves just like the pros,” says marketing manager Suzanne Weschke.
Sport biker’s edge

Brian Van loves to ride sport bike motorcycles, and his passion shows throughout the web pages of three-year-old Sportbike “I didn’t know anything about e-commerce when I started-computers weren’t a part of my life,” the former Cadillac car mechanic says. But Van-who rides his Yamaha YZF-R6 on motorcycle tracks across the country-learned how to write software code and develop images in Photoshop, and built a team of experienced motorcyclists to rev up an e-commerce site catering to sport bike enthusiasts and on course to do more than $7 million this year. Key to driving growth are some 500 online videos-all developed in-house and featuring Van himself demonstrating products. “We try to put a face on our business that makes customers more confident in making a purchase,” he says.
Serious about toys

Toys ‘R’ Us may market fun and games, but the retailer is serious about its web strategy. Recognizing that its site attracts more than just parents buying toys for their little ones, it recently launched an innovative online gift finder tool to help friends and extended family find the perfect present for a child. Shoppers can list attributes, such as age and gender, and characteristics, like sporty or creative, and the tool will produce suggestions. Beyond its own retail site, Toys ‘R’ Us purchased the web domain and relaunched it as a portal where consumers can find out about deals on and at the company’s other e-commerce sites:, and While promotes the latest deals, consumers must go to the other sites to buy.

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