Sportler and the Covid-19 emergency: how did you deal with and manage the lockdown period? What is the scenario like that you are facing in phase 2? What are the main topics you are working on in terms of marketing? What strategic activities are you going to implement in the short term?
Like everyone else, we never expected something like this to happen and so it constituted a major shock for us. Our board -considering the dramatic evolution of the situation- made the decision to close all our stores two days before the official lockdown notice. We dealt with the forced closure by increasing the resources invested on our e-commerce platforms and by boosting our digital and social channels. With the social media pages ‘Learn-Move-Talk’ we tried to keep a close and constant direct relationship with our customers, by offering a programme of home workouts, training sessions, and product presentations as well as interesting talks with top athletes who collaborate with our premium brands. We have launched a new digital consultancy service that we now want to develop and implement in multiple stores. Moreover, we have managed to launch our new app in record time, it will certainly become one of the most important strategic channels for us in the coming months.
With the social media pages ‘Learn-Move-Talk’ we tried to keep a close and constant direct relationship with our customers
How has consumer buying behaviour changed (if you think it has changed at all)? What trends do you foresee for the future and what strategies is Sportler adopting to reformulate its offer from a commercial and communication point of view?
In this period of ‘forced introspection’ we came up with several possible scenarios and developed plans B and C, with predictions ranging from critical to apocalyptic… Well, many of these have been completely (and happily) discarded in these first 20 days of lockdown easing. We imagined a consumer who would have been afraid to enter the shop, instead we found a clientele anxious to get back to sports (bicycles more than anything else) and who at the moment does not seem to have changed their purchasing habits too much. The Sportler customer was already largely a multichannel consumer; and has clearly exploited the research and validation phase on our digital channels: the current conversion rate and the feedback from our teams tell us that those who enter our stores are much more decisive consumers, who are sure of their purchases. Obviously, the inevitable drop in in-store traffic also weighs on these parameters but – at the moment – we are far from the hypothesised pessimistic estimates. In terms of commercial proposals, the challenge will be to be more flexible in the range of products on offer so that we can quickly seize opportunities and trends as and when they come. As far as communication is concerned, the mix of medias we use will change – at least in this first phase – and probably so too will our investment in certain activities that are currently limited (e.g. events) to others that allow us to communicate in a constant and direct way with our customers (e.g. digital and social media, above all).
…the mix of medias we use will change – at least in this first phase – and probably so too will our investment in certain activities that are currently limited (e.g. events) to others that allow us to communicate a constant and direct way with our customers (e.g. digital and social media, above all).
Given the current situation that is full of unknowns, what will Sportler’s relationship be like with your main suppliers?
Ever since the first days of the lockdown, we have tried as much as possible to have a constant exchange with all our suppliers in order to find the best solutions to manage phase 1 and – above all – to better plan for our recovery.
In addition to taking the necessary measures to guarantee social distancing, will the layout of the Sportler stores be reviewed to take into consideration the new relationship that is developing with customers?
The first step was, of course, to prepare the necessary measures to ensure the safety of our customers and our team within all our 25 stores in Italy and Austria. For the moment, we do not foresee substantial changes to the layout of our stores. We had already started working pre-Covid to improve the shopping experience of our customers and we will certainly continue to offer consultancy services (that will, perhaps, be increasingly more personalised) and implementing all those omnichannel strategies for which we were already receiving very positive feedback, on all the click & collect services.