After shutting down its 720 U.S. locations in March, the retailer nevertheless saw both revenue and comparable store sales increase 23% in Q3. At CES on Tuesday, Lauren Hobart—the current president who will assume the additional title of CEO on February 1—talked about how the sporting goods retailer survived and then thrived in 2020—and what that means for Dick’s in 2021.
According to Hobart, Dick’s in-house technology team had been focused on optimizing the customer experience when the chain had to temporarily shutter.
“We were at a point where, thankfully, right when the stores closed, our technology team was able to spin up curbside within literally two days,” she said, describing the first iteration as “scrappy.”
“It was one of those things where you didn’t have mobile alerts that you were there—you had to call [on the] phone when you got there, but it did the job and it unleashed hundreds of millions of dollars of inventory that would have been otherwise stuck in our stores and it gave our team the opportunity to work,” she added.
From there, increased consumer interest in outdoor activities naturally benefited a brand like Dick’s.
“The consumer started to really become an outdoor enthusiast in every single way possible—so people started running, kayaking, biking, [golfing],” Hobart said. “All those outdoor activities became just so important and our stores were able to fulfill that need curbside.”
The new pickup option also helped Dick’s expand its customer base.
“Over time, [curbside] became an incredible consumer benefit that I think went more from safety requirements to unbelievable convenience and our stores honestly became the hub of this omnichannel ecosystem, which we’ve been talking about for some time,” she said.
Now, Hobart said, consumer behavior has forever changed and curbside is “absolutely here to stay.”
After the influx of millions of new customers, Dick’s challenge was then to get those consumers into its loyalty program, ScoreCard, to help understand who exactly they are and to nurture those relationships.
“Over 70% of our transactions go through that program,” Hobart said. “And so we’re used to trying to get people to join the program and obviously did that at length with our new customers.”
In addition, Dick’s hosted its first-ever “ScoreCard appreciation week.” The effort featured even more member benefits and launched another program for the brand’s most loyal customers.
“That is the engine of honestly all of our personalized one-on-one marketing,” Hobart added. “Our ScoreCard database—we use it to power everything from our digital media to even email and print direct mail. All of that comes out of the ScoreCard database and we’re very, very careful with it.”
Dick’s has one major advantage over other mall stores: exterior entrances and drive-thrus—even at its mall locations. Those areas gave Dick’s the ability to serve customers everywhere, even when malls were closed.
“The future of malls still obviously impacts us, but we’ve been thankfully sort of immune from that short-term effect,” she said.
And while she noted Dick’s is not planning “to be exploding a number of stores,” its stores are nevertheless “a critical part of our future” as “the hub of this omnichannel ecosystem.”