Dick’s Sporting Goods is leveraging its store investments to communicate product demand levels with suppliers in a new way, as well as investing in machine learning models to predict store sales down to the SKU level.
The athletic retailer features tablets in its stores loaded with inventory monitoring technology it calls “Shoe Runner.” Consumers can scan a shoe on the tablet to see if the size is in stock; if it’s not, they have the choice to order it from their phone or see other shoes that are in stock in that size.
Having visibility into the shoes that are scanned, the inventory rates, and the conversion rates is providing the ability to track unfulfilled demand for the very first time, and this information is changing the conversation with its partners, said Steve Miller, senior VP strategy, e-commerce, and analytics of Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“Our vendors have found this very interesting as we talk to them about ensuring that we don’t let down that customer.”
[First Look: Dick’s Sporting Goods’ House of Sport]
Dick’s boasts a customer database with about half of the U.S. adult population, said Miller at Shoptalk this week. The company recorded about $12 billion in sales last year, from around 30 million individual customers, with about 80% of the business in stores and 20% digital. The company’s digital properties near 1 billion visits per year.
During the pandemic, Dick’s acquired more than 16 million new customers, the majority of whom were women, as well as younger and more urban than its typical customers. As e-commerce has accelerated, the company’s stores now fulfill 70% of its e-commerce demand, and the company view these stores remaining a critical fulfillment method moving forward.
“The hard part about using your stores as a fulfillment method is you have to plan for both the e-commerce demand and the walk-in brick-and-mortar demand,” Miller noted. “So, to that end, we’ve invested a lot of time and money and building machine learning models for our merchandising team to accurately predict what the SKU store sales are for each product.”
It’s rolled out these capabilities for a few categories and is optimistic about its progress to serve both physical retail and digital customers.
[See also: RIS News’ Store Experience Study]
The retailer is also bullish on the opportunities unlocked by GameChanger, the youth sports scoring platform it owns. With 7 million users, data from GameChanger is enabling Dick’s to connect in new ways beyond straight transactions. For example, in addition to recommending products when it’s time for new equipment, they can serve up training content when a player’s stats are suffering.
The insights are also leveraged to predict demand. When youth sports resumed in certain areas in California but not others, the company used the first-party data to ensure the right stores had the right stock.
“It’s exciting for us,” said Miller. “We still have a lot of work to do to fully leverage that data asset, but being on the field for us is very important.”