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  • Emmanuelle Serrano

Intersport, with its digital feet firmly on the ground, tackles the Go Sport integration project

After taking over the Go Sport chain in April, which had been in receivership since January, the Intersport France group of sporting goods shops has a major integration project ahead of it. Of the 72 shops taken over, 50 will become Intersports by 2024. This represents an investment of €60 million over the next 5 years. In addition to this ambitious project, the cooperative is also investing to strengthen its logistics and omnichannel model around sales staff who are increasingly connected and have become ship-from-store pros.

The contribution of e-commerce to Intersport's sales is not negligible. It fluctuates between 5 and 10%. Depending on the product category (e.g. football, rugby), this can rise to 20%. Overall, Intersport's digital sales are doing rather well, up 15% on last year.

"The number one mission of is to create traffic that will benefit physical points of sale", says Philippe Muhr, digital and e-commerce director for the brand, which relies on a powerful website and a large distribution network (700 shops in the lowlands and 200 in the mountains). The site receives around a hundred million visits a year, including around 30 million unique visitors. According to a study carried out with Kantar, 70% of visitors to the shops have previously visited, reflecting the group's omnichannel strategy. almost one hundred million visits per year. A single visitor is divided by 3. We're talking about a million unique visitors a year to

The product sheets available on the site attract a lot of traffic. Consumers prepare for their in-store visit by reading the technical specifications of the equipment and benchmarking it. "Our customers can chat with online operators who have the same level of training as our in-store sales staff," explains P. Muhr. In the face of inflation, Intersport is reaffirming its determination to ensure that sport remains accessible to all. "Our free loyalty programme, which has more than 12 million registered customers, enables us to keep our prices low despite the price rises we have seen from our suppliers," says P. Muhr. Thanks to this loyalty scheme, customers earn a kitty with every purchase and can cash in their kitty (maximum 30 euros) in April and October.

Omnichannel: a sine qua non condition

"Part of our e-commerce flow comes from traditional warehouses, but the vast majority - almost 85% - of our orders are processed on a ship-from-store basis from more than 420 shops", explains P. Muhr. For the expert, this is the e-commerce model that best suits a cooperative like Intersport. The ship-from-store model took off before the Covid health crisis broke out. This was a godsend for the shops, which were able to save part of their turnover during the pandemic. The methodology is simple: digital, and in particular, acts as a business generator for the shops. The teams and the entire IT infrastructure send the order directly to the shop where the customer is registered. If the customer is not registered, the shop closest to the delivery point is contacted, for obvious CSR reasons, to minimise the distance travelled.

Shipping orders from shops has completely transformed the work of our shop teams. They pick the product in the shop's stockroom and then prepare the order for the transport partners, who collect it every day from Monday to Friday. "Thanks to this, the product is delivered to the customer within 24-48 hours. It's a real success for us. We've proved through and through that we have a totally omnichannel model", adds P. Muhr, who notes that this organisation has helped to bring the head office and point-of-sale teams closer together.

AI and Metaverse, promising tools but still maturing

2022 may have been the year of the metaverse, but the enthusiasm has now died down a little. At Intersport, P. Muhr is responsible for informing the strategic committee about the concrete applications of these technological advances to the cooperative's retail activities. "As far as the metaverse is concerned, I think it's still a bit early to be seeing concrete applications in retail, but it will happen. This year, we're focusing more on artificial intelligence. In around twenty pilot shops, we are in the process of developing a connected sales assistant project", explains P. Muhr. The company has provided the teams with smartphones, which also have a "walkie-talkie" function, so that they can tag customers, have visibility of stocks on the move and all the Group's stocks at national level. Tomorrow, they will be able to order products directly from this "connected sales assistant". The aim is to add intelligence, reduce the number of tools and, in so doing, make life easier for sales staff.

"Small" product sheets: AI is your friend!

Product sheets are one of the main applications of AI in retail. With over 100,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs), this is a huge undertaking. The group is also betting on a tenfold increase in team productivity thanks to AI. As well as higher added-value tasks being carried out more quickly, in-store purchasing forecasts should also be refined and accessible more quickly. "Tomorrow, we may go even further by covering categories that are not yet in our catalogue. A connected sales assistant will be able to connect directly to our suppliers' stocks to order products that are not visible at the point of sale, but can be delivered in shop or to the customer's home", describes P. Muhr.

A robust investment policy for logistics and shops

The earthworks for Intersport's second logistics platform, due to open at Autrèche in Indre-et-Loire, were recently completed. It is due to open in 2024. Just as the cooperative has invested in digital technology to ensure it is totally omnichannel, the works and extensions to its logistics centre reflect its growth. "This warehouse will essentially be used to improve BtoB flows to shops, although we will also be doing a little e-commerce directly from this new 84,000 square metre site", promises P. Muhr.

In terms of shops, Intersport opens and/or extends an average of 20 to 30 shops every year. The year 2024 will be no exception, with one priority: to transform Go Sport shops into Intersport, particularly the flagship shops located in the Paris region, such as those in République and Châtelet-les Halles. "We're going to renovate them to turn them into flagship stores with an omnichannel approach, bringing digital and in-store together and vice versa. This should be done by April-May 2024. We really want to break down the barriers between online and offline. We'll be promoting on the front of the shop; we'll be present via screens inside the shop itself, but also to bring added value to surfaces that are a little large, since we're talking about shops that are between 2,000 and 3,500 m²."

Digital technology will be omnipresent in these future flagships, with QR codes linking to shopping guides, the printing of which is destined to disappear for ecological and economic reasons. These points of sale, which will be veritable innovation laboratories for Intersport, will also provide an opportunity to deploy "connected sales staff" on a pilot basis.

E-sport: customers who are also gamers

Intersport's clientele is young, and to keep up with this family of consumers, the group has also turned to esport by getting closer to the world of competitive video games. "We're very proud to have been the first French retailers to distribute this type of product successfully, since we've marketed several shirts in the colours of various French e-sport teams, including Karmine, Vitality, BDS, Joblife and Izidream," says the digital and e-commerce director. Twelve pilot shops (see list below) took part in this adventure. As the results have been extremely conclusive, the retailer will be distributing these products in as many shops as possible from 2024.

The following shops have distributed the E-sport collection:

  • Rots (14 - Caen)

  • Gonfreville (76 - Le Havre)

  • Pace (35 - Rennes)

  • Lomme (59)

  • St Genevieve (91)

  • Champagne au mont d'or (69)

  • Herblay (95)

  • Bonneuil (94)

  • Plaisir les Clayes-sous-Bois (78)

  • Chambourcy - Orgeval (78)

  • Marseille Plan de campagne (13)

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