March 27, 2014, 2:58 PM

A sports merchandise retailer scores a 10-fold conversion boost with new mobile sites

Gameday Merchandising, which manages web sites for the NCAA, NBA and other sports groups, launched 10 tablet sites and 10 smartphone sites with the help of vendor Shopgate.

Lead Photo

Screenshots from a few of Gameday's new mobile sites.

E-commerce site operator Gameday Merchandising’s mobile conversion rate increased 10-fold after launching new mobile-optimized sites for 10 of the sports merchandise stores it manages, according to director of e-commerce Victor Rubio. Gameday, whose clients include the National Basketball Association and National Collegiate Athletic Association teams, selected m-commerce technology vendor Shopgate Inc. to build the 10 m-commerce sites for smartphones and 10 tablet-optimized sites last summer.

“We opened up the last two stores the Friday before Black Friday last year,” Rubio says. Gameday e-mailed customers in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, announcing the availability of its sports merchandise on special sites for mobile devices. “It helped tremendously—we had a very successful weekend,” Rubio says. He also gives partial credit to the new mobile sites “for a very healthy double-digit increase in our December 2013 sales over December 2012.”

Today, mobile sales on average account for 20% of Gameday’s sales, with some team stores’ mobile shares reaching as high as 32%, he adds.

The retailer previously had only desktop sites. But, with about one-quarter to one-third of visitors shopping from a smartphone or tablet, those sites were increasingly proving inadequate for meeting shoppers’ needs, Rubio says. “Not having mobile optimization was detrimental to the business," he says.

After talking to all the m-commerce vendors at last year’s Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, Rubio says he chose Shopgate because it was neither too big nor too small, and one of the few that could deliver all the features and functions Gameday required. For example, the retailer allows pre-ordering, and offers special packaged promotions around events like championships, he says.

Gameday maintains separate desktop, tablet and smartphone sites for the stores it manages. However, all the sites share the same order management and payment systems, as well as product and customer information databases.

Shopgate also offers a capability Gameday found especially intriguing, Rubio adds—an image-recognition promotional tool. The vendor is now building for Gameday a mobile app that will a consumer at a sports event to snap a picture of a logo or ad on the back of the seat in the row in front of her, for example, to purchase or pre-order a hot item. That could be, for example, the championship T-shirt that has yet to print because the game she’s attending will determine the champion. The item will then ship to her home within a few days.

Gameday is also considering how this mobile purchasing technology could be incorporated into a sports team’s existing mobile app to make it more appealing, Rubio says.

Shopgate charged Gameday an initial fee to set up the sites plus an ongoing monthly fee for maintenance and continued improvements, Rubio says, without giving the specific costs. The technology has “by far” paid for itself in the increased mobile conversions, he adds.

While none of Gameday’s college teams are still alive in this year's men’s college basketball tournament, Rubio is looking forward to four pro team clients potentially making the NBA playoffs this April—and seeing how the their merchandise sales trend on mobile. “I’m very curious because we didn’t have this option last year,” he says.

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