Purchase Path Deep Dive: Dick's Sporting Goods
Even as cities continue to open back up, curbside, pick up in-store (BOPIS), and alternative fulfillment solutions are far from getting kicked to the curb. In fact, retailers like Albertsons reported its fourth consecutive quarter of digital growth of over 200% in April, largely attributed to their delivery solutions, curbside pickup capabilities, and innovative apps.
This is why retailers are investing heavily in optimizing for a seamless, fast, easy online and in-store experience. A misstep anywhere in the customer buying experience will cause cart abandonment, miss picks, or customers arriving at the wrong pickup location - all resulting in frustrated customers.
So as retailers continue to double down on these fulfillment strategies, it’s important to reflect on some of the successful tactics retailers have put into place and consider where you can iterate on your own.
Over the last year, few companies have rolled with the punches like Dick’s Sporting Goods. In April, Dick’s announced a whopping 70% of their online orders were fulfilled at retail locations. In 2020, digital sales accounted for 20% of total sales, up from 13% in 2019. Over the last two years, sales were up 52%. Which is why we took a look at them as part of our new series analyzing BOPIS strategies of major retailers.
So let’s play a little game of Monday morning quarterback and see what we can learn from Dick’s eCommerce strategies.
Online Shopping Experience
Upon first landing on Dick’s website, it’s not immediately clear that they offer BOPIS or curbside options. When I began my deep dive, there was no easy-to-miss green banner advertising BOPIS, much less their one-hour promise advertised - both of which have been added and pictured, below.
Fortunately, as I began shopping, it became very clear what items were available for pickup. Each product page came equipped with store-level quantity information and delivery options - shipping and store pickup.
Ease of Shopping
I had a couple of issues while shopping on their website. If you’re shopping specifically for in-store pickup, then the shopping experience is a little clunky.
As you browse through their website, the fulfillment method defaults to “all” every time you search for a new item. The reason for this is likely so Dick’s can get as many products as possible in front of the customer before making them make a decision about how or how fast they’d actually receive it. They’re making the bet that if they can get the consumer to fall in love with the perfect pair of running shorts they won’t ultimately care it gets in their hands in two days instead of one.
But that makes for a really confusing and frustrating experience if they actually need those shorts today.
In addition to defaulting my fulfillment preferences with every search, I didn’t find that the filters worked perfectly - frequently yielding results with items not available for pickup at all. After some time investigating, it appears the issue occurs when there are multiple variants of an item available.
- I search “running shorts” and spot a pair blue shorts that are in-stock for pick up at my preferred store
- I pull up the product page so I can select the size and color
- My size isn’t available at a location near me, so I click around to see the other colors, sizes, and in-store availability
- There were 20 colors, so this actually took some time
On the plus side, once on the product page, it was really easy to navigate and see which items were available, their quantities, and what local stores I could pick up from.
Overall, Dick’s checkout experience was exceptional. At every step it was incredibly clear how each item was going to be fulfilled (pickup vs shipping) and created urgency by showing low item quantities. It was refreshing to see, considering other companies we’ve reviewed - such as Office Depot - that have really dropped the ball on this step of the purchase process.
The entire process was seamless, clear, and simple - making it clear why they’ve seen so much success over the last year!
Managing inventory across multiple channels has been a longtime challenge for many retailers. With the increased complexity BOPIS and curbside has brought to inventory management, retailers have been reckoning with increased out-of-stocks and ad-hoc substitution strategies that frequently rely on employee best judgment.
To stress-test Dick’s inventory management and substitution strategy, I intentionally ordered items that were low in stock, but to my pleasant surprise, they were able to fulfill everything!.
Because they were able to fulfill my entire order, and I couldn’t find any FAQs on the website that outlined what happens in the event of an out-of-stock, I couldn’t test their strategy for it. My guess would be that they simply partially fulfill the order.
It was, perhaps, a little bit more difficult to navigate filters and view item variants on mobile, but for the most part, the mobile experience was par for the course.
Post Purchase Followup
Dick’s confirmation and follow-up emails were exceptional - balancing informative with their playful brand. As soon as I placed my order, I received an email confirmation with the subject line, “Don’t leave yet! We’re processing your order.” Here I could view my order, order status, and delivery method.
When my order was ready to be picked up, I got an email saying, “ready when you are!” with store hours and instructions for curbside and pickup - including an option to check in to speed up my visit.
Like I mentioned before, when I first placed my order, there was no explicit promise on how fast they would fulfill my order. Upon revisiting the site to write this article, I see they did add a “one hour pick up" promise.
With that being said, I did get an email saying my order was ready to pick up within 11 minutes of placing my order - which is the fastest fulfillment I’ve experienced to date.
When pulling up to Dick’s Sporting Goods, there were clearly marked parking spots for curbside pickup. Walking into the store, however, I was accosted with a wall of signage - none of which told me where I could pick up online orders. Fortunately, the staff immediately greeted me and asked how they could be of help.
Picking up the item was fast and simple - the checkout associate asked me my name and turned around to find my order on a large shelf with bins which I searched for my order number. Within a few minutes, she scanned the barcode on my order and sent me on my way.
Opportunities & Takeaways
Dick’s Sporting goods really didn’t pull any punches when it came to their eCommerce and fulfillment solutions. From online to in-store, the purchasing experience was seamless and fast - it’s no wonder sales have gone up 52% over the last two years.
- UI/UX improvements for in-store pickup shoppers - while this could be a corner case, I found it very frustrating to filter and shop for in-store pick-up-only items. All-in-all it required a lot of bouncing around and frustration.
- Inventory management and visibility - while this has been a major hurdle for most retailers, Dick’s has a lot of confidence and transparency in their systems’ ability to monitor and update quantities. Despite ordering four items with one or fewer remaining quantities, they were able to fulfill every item without issue.
- Post-purchase communications were clear and actionable - Dick's did an exceptional job with this. I was never left wondering what my next steps would be or what to expect when I arrived at the store.