Adidas Group Goes Beyond Clicks And Bricks

Abhishek Lal, Adidas Group India, talks about Omni-channel strategy
Adidas Group Goes Beyond Clicks And Bricks

Adidas Group to bring in ‘endless aisle’ technology as part of its Omni-channel strategy

In a recent exclusive interview with Retailer magazine, Abhishek Lal, eCommerce Director, Adidas Group India, talks about creating an effective online channel model that complements offline sales at the stores. Adidas’ Omni-channel strategy is to integrate 200 of its 750 stores by the end of 2015 with shopper-friendly ‘endless aisle’ technology, and taking it to cover all the stores by 2016.

What is your current role as an eCommerce director at Adidas?

My current role is basically to create an eCommerce presence for the Group, and to link up all our sales businesses to create one big Omni-channel ecosystem. The Group has always believed that shopping for a customer should be a seamless experience, whether he is online or whether he wants to shop at a store. And it is a pioneering thing; we have started implementing it in our system. Nobody in India has done it yet.

How are you implementing the Omni-channel strategy and integrating the stores with shopper-friendly technology?

The basic, most important element of the strategy is that the customer today should be able to reach out to the brand across multiple channels. It could be anything: Social media, physical stores, online. The brand has to make sure wherever the customer wants to interact and communicate with, it is there.

So, what we have done is we have developed an in-house technology and we have linked the POS systems in our stores to our website and to the mobile, and all three systems are linked and they speak to each other. The idea is that we want to reach a level where we would create a unique user-case of everybody who walks in at our stores. We want to basically know our customers better, know their preferences and know what they already expect from the brand.

What is the ‘Endless Aisle’ technology?

‘Endless Aisle’ is a part of the technology ecosystem we are building. The idea is that when a customer walks in and suppose he does not find the right product or the right size of a selected product, he should not walk out without making a purchase. He should get what he came for. So we have these tabs installed at our stores which can help them make a wider choice and browse through and order for articles that are not on display. So, there are about 4,000 products available through the endless aisle tab in the store, in addition to the online offerings.

But, this is just the first step. We are deploying many more applications in tablets which would increase the user engagement even further. There are some exclusive brands that retail do not sell and are only available online. So, when a customer walks into a store, his experience should match his expectations that he has from the brand. A lot of engagement apps are being built in the back-end and we’ll roll them out very soon.

Up to what percentage do you think it’ll help affect the revenue at Adidas?

We have already rolled out in 60 (plus) stores across North, East and South of India. We have seen that the business from the stores has increased from 10-15 per cent.

What’s the strategy behind launching Adidas Neo?

Adidas Neo is a very youth-oriented brand and Selena Gomez is promoting the item. It is a lifestyle footwear. The strategy is to reach to a wider customer base that can afford it and find it in line with their expectations.

What is the difference in the range of product pricing at stores and online?

There is none, actually! We work very closely with our partners, namely Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and Amazon. And for them Adidas actually sells quite well even at non-discounted, full prices. So, there is complete price parity in our products, whether it is stores, or its partnering websites or other online channels. Now, if you see a discount offered on the site, you can be 100 per cent sure of finding the same item at a discounted price elsewhere. It is not that they are discounting full priced items. And our retail sales never get negatively affected by that.

How, according to you, online sales affect the sales at physical stores?

We see online and offline as complementary. How eCommerce provides scale is that it connects the nook and corner of the country where retail cannot reach. And these customers have both the purchasing power and aspirational level to buy from and connect with us. It does provide an effective reach and I think there is where the bigger scale comes in. Some customers want to shop at the stores after looking at the product online, or they order online and collect at physical stores, so we would like to reach the consumers whose buying preference today is mainly online.

What are your future plans?

We have an eCommerce and a mobile site today run by our franchise partners. Going forward, we would like to definitely have an app in place. And also the endless aisle, which would be 200 stores at the end of the year, we would like to take it to all the 750 stores that we have (including Adidas and Reebok) by 2016.

Abhishek Lal