Intersport Group: Challenge of changing mindsets

Developing a seamless experience for customers across multiple channels is a technological challenge for retailers but the biggest hurdle they face is often changing employee mindsets to operate within this new environment.

Speaking ahead of taking part in a panel discussion on omnichannel retailing at RetailEXPO Thomas Just Rasmussen, COO of Intersport Group Denmark, says: “To actually make store staff aware of the opportunities is a little tricky. We’ve iPads for them to check online stock and place orders for customers but even with this system, trying to get them to remember to use it is hard. It’s not like they are not aware of it.”

Rasmussen has found a successful strategy to overcome this issue is adopting “old retail tricks” whereby KPIs have been introduced to measure the use of the devices and to compare employees in each store and also store-by-store comparisons to encourage the use by initiating competition.

Such moves are necessary as he says the customers are ready for such digital purchases in-store – especially in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries where smartphone adoption is advanced compared with even in the UK and Germany.

To satisfy this demand Intersport is working hard on giving online shoppers visibility of stock levels at local store level, which will support its developing click & reserve proposition. ”We’re testing it right now and it’s a big opportunity for the seamless experience [we’re building],” says Rasmussen, who adds that even something as simple sounding as this represents a tough challenge.

To calculate local stock is complicated by things like stolen products, incorrect sizes being sold and barcodes being mixed up. There is also the issue of people in a busy store could have items in their baskets but they have not yet gone through the checkout. “It could still be shown as available online so how do you tell the customer that it might have just been sold?”

Intersport is building a buffer for each product line through algorithms on its e-commerce platform. The quicker selling lines will be taken out from the online stock faster. “Algorithms are built around what’s selling fast and what’s not moving,” says Rasmussen.

Such algorithms are created by the team that works across the international platform that supports the Intersport business. He says the expertise is dispersed but can be called upon and fed into the relevant developments. This international connected platform helps with accessing to the necessary resources when they are needed. The company also has a centre of excellence in Amsterdam.

These initiatives to create a seamless experience for its customers are a challenge for the company, but Rasmussen says they also ultimately represent a major opportunity: “The quicker you can do them then the sooner you can take advantage of them because the consumers are ready. They want more seamless and more convenient experiences so if you can give them this then you will attract more of them.”