Adidas is now also an e-commerce giant. Source: Shutterstock

Adidas is now also an e-commerce giant. Source: Shutterstock

70 years on, Adidas re-invented itself as an e-commerce company

ADIDAS went into business 70 years ago, as a maker of sports footwear.

Today, the brand has established itself as an e-commerce player. According to a recent press release, the Adidas and Reebok websites are already the brands’ largest and most profitable own points of sale globally.

By 2020, the company plans to achieve EUR4 billion (US$4.38 billion) in sales coming from its own e-commerce platforms, compared to EUR1 billion (USD 1.10 billion) in 2016. That’s a 400 percent increase in just four years.

In recent times, the company has been working on creating new mobile and web apps, refining its digital experience, and connecting and nurturing its relationship with customers in the digital world.

Winning with e-commerce isn’t easy but it’s something that the company is focused on and it seems as though it believes a genuine connection with customers is what will drive sales forward.

The company’s CEO Kasper Rorsted told CNBC that Adidas believes e-commerce is a future for a lot of markets.

“We launched our own app last year, and it’s been downloaded more than 7 million times in more than 25 countries. We think e-commerce is still in its early days, and there’s going to be a tremendous opportunity […]. There is no doubt e-commerce and e-commerce through a mobile environment is the future of our company.”

More recently, the company announced that it will be re-jigging its apps (combining its running apps and membership program) in order to provide customers with a better experience and a better reward for their loyalty.

“By combining our sports apps with our membership program ‘Creators Club’, we are rewarding our consumers for their sports activities while creating an even more personal and seamless brand experience,” said Adidas Senior Vice President Digital Scott Zalaznik.

According to the company, this initiative will not only help users stay fit but also better engage them through rewards such as access to limited products or invitations to exclusive events.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees

In other words, don’t miss the loyal fans for the shoppers.

Adidas has been in business for 70 years because it is an amazing company and a massive innovator of sports gear. In the process, it has earned loyal fans across the globe.

The way that Adidas wins with e-commerce is by delighting those fans, engaging with them, and providing them with amazing experiences that embody the Adidas brand in the digital world.

The company doesn’t just see data when it looks at designing its experiences, it sees the people. Unfortunately, not a lot of brands do.

Sometimes, companies that build e-commerce platforms forget their legacy and provide experiences that fail to connect with customers. That’s why they fail — and that’s the biggest lesson.

Building an e-commerce experience isn’t really a technology challenge.

It does require a bit of talent and some intelligence, and a decent amount of creativity does take the platform up a notch. However, when companies are able to really provide a like-for-like experience to customers, from the store to the digital world, that’s when they thrive.

For businesses looking to go the e-commerce route, if there’s anything Adidas can teach, it is that the customer must always be first — and front, and center.