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Intersport sets focus on digital transformation

Insights into Intersport Group’s digitalization strategy

Intersport, the world’s largest mid-sized buying group in the sports retail sector, is taking rapid steps towards digital transformation.

Rohrbach/Ilm, Mar. 19th, 2018: Every path begins with a first step. This is also true of the digitalization that almost all companies are going through today. Intersport, the largest mid-sized buying group in the sports retail sector, is taking rapid steps towards digital transformation. They have found their ideal starting point, which will bring them to the finish line in the best possible way and without major detours.

Why does an established company take this path to digitalization? The strategy that has been pursued so far has worked for 60 years – and successfully. Intersport is the market leader in Germany with 1,500 sporting goods shops. The sports retailer gains enormously from its geographical and personal proximity to its customers. So, why ecommerce?

As in many other sectors, declining frequencies are also being felt within stationary retail. Many purchasing decisions are no longer made in store, but online. Therefore it is necessary for Intersport to deal with the huge online market.

If you want to play in the Champions League, you don’t just meet fans, you have to be able to prevail against the competition. The sports market is highly competitive. Customers can purchase 600 different brands via Intersport – the large selection is a plus point in the stationary segment, however business partners suddenly become competitors when entering the online segment. Each of the brand manufacturers would also like to establish itself with its own online shop and not encourage customers to buy through an intermediary. In addition, online merchants such as Amazon and Zalando, as well as platforms such as eBay, are all vying for the customer’s favor. So the question that has to be asked is: where is there still room for Intersport in this market?

Carsten Schmitz, CDO at Intersport Germany, answers this question as follows: “One would think that the market is already full. But we believe that there is still room for us, because we have decisive advantages – firstly, in our variety of brands, secondly, in our daily customer contact, and thirdly, in our high level of credibility within the sporting goods sector.”

In 2013, the strategy with which Intersport embarked on its path towards e-commerce turned out to be impracticable. As a market leader, the company wanted to launch a multichannel concept with a central online shop for the entire affiliated group. The largest tools were barely good enough for that. With an Enterprise Shop System, Enterprise PIM, EDI wholesale processes and experienced implementation partners, they felt well-equipped for the online business. However, with systems that were too large and didn’t have enough user-friendliness or agility, it turned out that the systems were not suitable for the requirements of the e-commerce environment.

Intersport has learned from this. Anyone who wants to run a marathon as a non-athlete should first set realistic milestones on the way there. In the case of Intersport, that meant going back to square one, with new systems and a new strategy – no longer a central online shop, but a cooperative dealer platform. In June 2017, they found the ideal solution needed for meeting today’s e-commerce opportunities: With its Product Information Management (PIM) system, Contentserv provides exactly what is required for agile work. The software was individually customized and specifically adapted to the requirements of the Intersport Group, which is reflected in the system’s special focus on serving end customer processes. Through smart tools, Contentserv makes Intersport more adaptable and provides innovative solutions that offer the fast response options and flexibility that are required for e-commerce.

In conjunction with Contentserv’s software, Intersport is now able to perfectly utilize its decisive advantages. Because of its accumulation of warehouses via 1,500 connected affiliates offers a product variety that is difficult to surpass. The PIM system now helps to collect the content provided by more than 600 brand manufacturers, such as Adidas, Puma or Nike, centrally in a single location and distribute it from the so-called Single Point of Truth to various channels.

By bundling product data in one central location, the basic prerequisite for successful e-commerce in sports retail can also be ensured, namely high-quality content that turns interested parties into customers. Because product data is not only needed for the central online shop, best data quality is the be-all and end-all, especially for affiliated groups. If errors creep in here, it also affects stationary retail and its 1,500 shops, which create offers and advertising campaigns on the basis of this data.

In addition to its still strong stationary retail, after short detours, Intersport has now also found its ideal starting point towards the digitalization marathon to successfully master online business. The right equipment, with smart IT solutions, paves the way to milestones, which can now be reached more quickly and easily.

Find out more about Contentserv’s innovative solutions at www.contentserv.com.