May 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Under Armour bulks up web sales with a new design and social features

Under Armour bulks up web sales with a new design and social features.

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Keeping its e-commerce site and Facebook page cool and trendy for its core shoppers of young athletes is paying dividends for Under Armour Inc.

E-commerce sales at the athletic apparel and accessories manufacturer increased 59% to an Internet Retailer-estimated $122.4 million in 2011 from $77 million in 2011 as the company drove growth through a series of new web site design and social media initiatives, says vice president of global e-commerce John Rogers.

In November, Under Armour launched a completely redesigned e-commerce site that features bigger images, more new products such as shoes, athletic bags and hats, an updated live chat application from Needle and RightNow Technologies, and a new site search engine from Oracle Corp. Oracle acquired RightNow Technologies in January for $1.43 billion.

Under Armour, whose online marketing targets up-and-coming male and female athletes in middle school, high school and college, worked with Huge Inc., a New York web site design and consumer market research firm, to rebuild its e-commerce site. The upgrade included a customer review tool that lets visitors rate products on a sliding scale for size, fit, comfort and performance, and share the results with family and friends on Facebook and elsewhere.

Under Armour also launched a new version of its e-commerce site that's optimized for the iPad, the hot-selling tablet computer from Apple Inc. Since launching its optimized site for iPad users in November sales from consumers using tablets as a portion of total e-commerce sales are now in "the single digits," Rogers says. "Everything we do online is all about the brand," Roger says. "The new site tells and sells our story to our core customers who are always digitally connected."

The company's Facebook page also recently surpassed 1.5 million fans. "We've done a pretty good job with social media to engage our customers," Rogers says. "We've learned to listen really well."

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