Ecommerce Lessons from Sports Authority Closing

What’s “the hottest trend in retail” these days? Store closings.

This retail industry prediction for 2016 is sorely coming to pass. Sports Authority, the second largest sporting goods retailer in the U.S., recently announced its shuttering of 463 stores. Sports Authority closing comes despite increased sales in the sporting goods and athletic wear categories.

Sports Authority Logo

The reason? USA Today points to ecommerce: “The growing number of consumers doing their shopping online has roiled brick and mortar retailers across the board, whether they sell t-shirts or tennis rackets. And Sports Authority has acknowledged that online competition played a key role in its demise.”

Sports Authority Closing Despite Industry Growth

Sports Authority Closing SignThe sporting goods industry was valued around 64.8 billion dollars in 2015, according to Statista. That’s a gain of 11.24 billion dollars in just five years.

As a distribution channel, the internet itself has the highest growth in market share for the industry. Online sales for athletic and sport equipment grew from 11.8% in 2010 to 15.8% in 2014.

While brick and mortar isn’t exactly dead, it does cost more to start and maintain physical retail stores. Building out ecommerce is a smart way to gain more sales and support physical store sales. Think of the ROPO effect, showrooming, and other cross-channel consumer shopping .

Dick’s Sporting Goods, currently the top sporting goods retailer, is already on the ball. Internet Retailer says Dick’s is bringing “e-commerce operations in-house as it moves toward its goal of doubling e-commerce revenues by fiscal 2017.”

Tips for Staying in the Game 

At content26, we’ve noticed a growing interest in online strategy development from the sporting goods sector. Here’s what we suggest to get started:

  1. If you’re not already selling online, take the time to develop a digital strategy. Learn how some of our most successful, forward-thinking clients deliver a great digital shopping experience.
  2. Before you make great content, you need to know what makes it successful. Learn the difference between essential and enhanced content. Define why content fails and how to fix it. Create strategic content within your retail partners’ guidelines.
  3. If you’re selling on Amazon (or plan to) check out Amazon Marketing Services. AMS will help your product stand out from the millions of products on the site.


About Sports Authority closing, Katie Nemec, spokeswoman for the National Sporting Goods Association says, “Every retail industry is dealing with its own set of challenges. I certainly don’t think the sporting goods industry is the only one.’’

To stay alive in the changing retail market, all manufacturers must learn to sell online—through their own brand sites and third-party giants.

Let's work together.