Ecommerce Panel: ASICS, Sea Bags & Pure Hockey Share Digital Experience Insights

We got the opportunity to speak with a panel of marketing and ecommerce leaders to discuss strategies for getting closer to your customers, especially during this difficult time with the COVID-19 pandemic. We partnered with e-Spirit to host the event and the panel included: 

  • Melanie Sisk, Director, Global Marketing Technology, ASICS: Asics is a footwear and sports equipment company that is also expanding into services with the acquisition of Runkeeper (fitness tracking app) and RaceRoster (race registration software). 
  • Laura Hnatow, VP Marketing & Ecommerce, Sea Bags: Sea Bags is a 20 year old company that makes handcrafted totes from recycled sails. 
  • Matt Rosenthal, Director of Marketing, Pure Hockey: Pure Hockey is the largest retailer of ice and roller hockey equipment in the USA. 

See what they had to say below or watch the full panel discussion here (you can skip ahead to 47:15 in the video).

Q: What is your mission as a company? Does it go beyond the bounds of product transactions into “experiences”?

ASICS: We aim to better the lives of our customers. To deliver connected experiences and better understand our customers, we acquired Race Roster and Runkeeper. If you map out the customer journey, usually you can only touch a sliver of it – but through these apps we can be a part of the entire experience, from the apparel, to the training, to the races. We are able to own the entire ecosystem and now have the responsibility to deliver connected experiences and not just funnel people through to a conversion. It’s all about asking ourselves, how can we elevate the entire experience?   

Sea Bags: Our recycled products had entire lives on the water before we got a hold of them. Our flagship retail store is on a wharf so you get that full experience. We make the bags there onsite and you can even see people coming in to sell their sails. The whole environment breathes our brand experience and people want to see that.

Pure Hockey: We aim to match the level of commitment that our customers give to the sport. Hockey requires a lot of travel, early mornings, hard work – it’s a huge part of our customers’ lives. We need to match that level of commitment in every part of the experience. Finding the right gear requires understanding their position, style of play, skill level, etc. Understanding all this allows us to offer a more personalized and memorable experience.  

What are two or three important steps that your company has taken as a result of the COVID-19 crisis? How are your organizations striving to create that same brand experience online? 

ASICS: In response to COVID-19, we’ve removed things like paywalls and made our content more easily accessible to help ease the current burden. We’re also starting to roll-out virtual races in Runkeeper to keep people engaged in collective activity. Our focus is on what we can do to help better the lives of our customers during this difficult time.

Sea Bags: Happy to say that our skilled taskforce is now making PPE that we’re able to donate to organizations that haven’t been able to get enough. Like most, we’ve also had to close our retail stores but we’ve opened curbside pick-up. Our retail stores are in destination locations that have some seasonality to them so there are times of year where we already had to rely on our online store to connect with us with our customers. We connect online via the usual channels like social media but have also added new online technologies to connect with customers. We’ve embedded a technology into our website to host an online auction every couple of months for “vintage bags” with the original insignia. This creates a wonderful, engaging experience on our website, and starts a dialogue about customized bags with our customer base. They can then move on to the custom visualizer tool on our website, personalize a bag, and see customizations right on screen. 

Pure Hockey: We’re normally a very rink–centric company, but in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve been focusing on our home-centric products like training items. We want to enable hockey players to stay engaged with the sport even when they can’t go to the rink. This has meant a shift for every part of the business, from supply chain, to marketing, to fulfillment. We’re also encouraging our customers to share their at-home hockey set-ups – in the garage, on the driveway – on social media to keep them engaged and connected with the community. 

What strategies do you leverage to better understand your customers and how do you ensure that gets applied to the digital experience? 

ASICS: We started with a complete replatform to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, from there we were able to marry all our customer data in one seamless view. We combine that with qualitative and quantitative data from our customer insights group to deliver what we’re calling microtargeting or enhanced segmentation. We’ve enabled 50 attributes that we’re computing everyday from across multiple touchpoints and then we’re able to really fine tune where people have genuine interest. We let people tell us what they want through their actions, and then give that data to marketers to inform what they do. 

Sea bags: We’re in the process of migrating to Salesforce Commerce Cloud, part of our hope with that is that we will be able to leverage the data that we’ve gathered over time as well as new data to start to respond to customers in a more dynamic way using tools like AI, some of the personalization tools, and machine learning. Those are things we’re looking towards the future for, trying to use business intelligence tools to respond to our customers in a more dynamic way and do segmentation to deliver experiences. 

Hockey: The key for us is using all the customer data that we have, whether they’re telling us themselves or we can infer it from their actions on the website, to make the best possible experience. We can think we know what’s best but then onsite behaviour shows something different. We leverage on-site testing and A/B testing tools and gather as much data as possible rather than guessing what we think is best. There are so many tools out there now that enable data collection and really meaningful insights that lead significant lifts in conversions, revenue, and retention.

What indicators of success or KPIs do you use to measure your company’s success in creating a better experience for your customers?

ASICS: A key metric for us is customer lifetime value (CLTV). We marry that with repeat purchases, brand love, and more central metrics that are tracked within our Asics loyalty program. It’ll be interesting to see how important engagement metrics become. It’s about more than the just transactions now, and I suspect engagement metrics will bubble up as primary metrics. 

Sea Bags: We use the usual suspects like conversation rate, traffic, AOV, but also put a lot of weight on ratings and reviews on our website. About 4% of monthly orders will come back and leave a review. Last month our average star rating was 4.88/5. This reinforces the fact that we are delivering value to our customers, that we’ve met expectations, and that they will come back. We’re about to launch a loyalty program and I believe that will increase the volume and engagement on our ratings and reviews.

Pure Hockey: Our loyalty program is a huge driver of success for us. We look at enrollment in the loyalty program because it indicates if they will shop with us again. We inherited the loyalty program from a company that we acquired and we removed the fee, added a gift to join, and now give members incentives to keep shopping with us in the future. We can also market to this group more cheaply and directly compared to channels where we’re trying to broadcast our message and cut through all the noise.

You can watch the full on-demand recording of this virtual panel here

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