On a recent earnings call with investors, Dick’s Sporting Goods President and Chief Executive Lauren Hobart spoke about the new store as a test and learn center.
“One thing that has become very, very clear to us this year is that our stores are an enormous asset to us as part of our whole omni-channel ecosystem,” she said. “And we view our store growth and our e-commerce growth as a very symbiotic hand in hand.” Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to continue to experiment with different stores prototypes.
It’s a strategy that retailers were pursuing before the pandemic as they sought out new ways to connect with consumers and provide one-of-a-kind experiences in a digital age. While the huge retail flagships of the 90s are on the wane as retailers reevaluate their real estate portfolio, stores that provide more than just product are still valuable to a brand. The coronavirus has not deterred such plans for some retailers, including Lululemon, which last year said it was very committed to plans for experiential shops.
“Experience stores are still very important—customers are about that,” says Lee Peterson, executive VP of thought leadership and marketing at retail consultancy WD, which counts Dick’s Sporting Goods as a client. “Dick’s has a rock-climbing wall, a batting cage … all of a sudden you want to go there.” He says that while many of his clients are still figuring out their overall store strategies, experiential stores are something he expects retailers to continue to invest in in the future.
In a survey last year, Shopkick found that 82% of consumers are more inclined to purchase an item after seeing, holding or trying a product in a store.
After opening the new store, Dick’s Sporting Goods plans to open new warehouse locations, experiential soccer shops and a group of revamped Golf Galaxy locations. A second House of Sport will open in Knoxville, Tennessee, later this year. As consumers focused on outdoor sports and athleticwear during the pandemic, the Pittsburgh-area-based retailer has seen sales benefit. Last year, Dick’s Sporting Goods reported a 10% rise in net sales to $9.6 billion; e-commerce sales increased 100% for the year.
Interested in learning more about retailers’ post-pandemic strategies? Attend Ad Age Next: Retail, a digital event on April 20. Buy your ticket here.