City Sports Sets its Sights on Personalized Shopping Experiences

The sporting goods retailer uses customer profiles to individualize experiences across devices.
Customer Experience

Sporting goods retailer City Sports understands that winning customers is a marathon, not a sprint. And given the growing competition and array of prices for sports gear, company leaders understand that they need to find innovative ways to engage today's empowered and tech-savvy shoppers.

In July, City Sports partnered with BlueConic, an online engagement platform provider, to enhance its messaging with more relevant content and offers. 1to1 Media caught up with City Sports director of marketing Eve Bould to discuss the partnership and her plans for engaging shoppers across channels.

1to1 Media: What's the most challenging aspect of meeting the expectations of today's consumers?

Eve Bould: For us, it's personalizing the experience and making sure that we're serving up relevant content. Fostering an omnichannel experience is also a priority. For instance, say there's a new City Sports store opening near you. We want to let you know about that store opening as well as letting you know when something you purchased online is available to be picked up in the store. We're working on integrating all of those services.

Blueconic is helping us provide these personalized experiences. Soon we'll be serving up timely content to online visitors through the Blueconic platform. For example, if consumers go on our site and do a search for a Nike shoe, even if they're anonymous, Blueconic can analyze their interests, and the next time they visit or as they progress through the site, we can show them relevant content about the products they've expressed an interest in.

Are the personalized offers delivered as emails or do they appear on the site?

EB: It would be personalized messages or images on the website. The targeted messages are based on each visitor's search patterns or navigation on the site. We also have the potential ability to track mouse movements to understand when a customer might be leaving the site and offer up a limited time purchase offer or free shipping offer to retain the customer and drive a conversion.

What's your mobile strategy?

EB: Our first priority with this project is desktop. We do have a mobile site as well, but since the partnership is so new, I'll defer to [BlueConic CMO] Dan [Gilmartin], who can better explain how the mobile and desktop functionalities work together.

Dan Gilmartin: When we think about our partners' audiences, there's the known state when someone logs in with an email address. Then there's the anonymous user. What we do is build profiles for every user by tracking what they're clicking or swiping, which allows to understand the intent of users and how we can leverage that to deliver the right communication to the user.

On the mobile front, City Sports is focused on mobile browser and desktop experiences. When customers log in, we can identify them and connect that ID on the mobile device to the user session on the desktop. So over time as the profiles get built, we stitch them together with a user's known interests on the mobile web. This lets us transcend the device and deliver the same experience regardless of the channel. All the data that's collected is first-party data. We don't use third-party data to try to stitch things together.

Do you connect your online data with in-store data?

EB: We have an integrated CRM product [Epicor] that collects in-store as well as website transactions and integrates into Blueconic. Like I said, our first priority is personalization and so our plan is to also tie in information from our customers' in-store purchase history and loyalty program with our online data to provide our customers with relevant messaging.

Do you share the customer information with other departments like customer service?

EB: Yes, our customer service team is closely tied to our web team and marketing team. All of our customer information is shared among these core groups. What we're working on is relevant for customer service because it involves how we interact with our customers and so it's important for them to be aware of the more personalized messages that we'll be serving up.

What about IT, how do you collaborate with that department?

EB: Especially with the increased focus on omnichannel experiences, IT is integral to marketing. I end up spending a large part of my week with the IT group. It wasn't like that 10 years ago, but now we have much deeper data and it's more critical to provide personalized experiences and to segment and target our marketing.