Dick’s Redefines Community Service

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Community sports are interchangeable with the American spirit of resilience, optimism, and competition. Dick’s Sporting Goods knows the roles sports and fitness play in America’s communities and is deeply embedded in that world, responding in radical ways. The retailer is not only a smart operator, they are in a league of their own: empathetic and embedded in the communities they serve. What’s more, they are a 2023 Retail Radical in reinvention, transformation, and relevance over their 75-year history.

Dick’s is making a major investment in community sports, engaging local hockey teams through ice-time rental and family open skating on their stadium-lit, outdoor ice rink. Summer camp sports programs are also planned. In-store events include homeschool P.E. which speaks volumes to community outreach as well as building lifetime customer value. 

Manifest Destiny

So, what’s so radical about Dick’s is that it continues to serve its loyal customers and the community at large. Dick’s is sports and fitness. CEO Lauren Hobart (the first female and non-family member CEO in Dick’s 75-year-old history) and Chairman Ed Stack are strengthening Dick’s tradition of commitment to community, introducing Dick’s House of Sport in selected locations. The first Dick’s 100,000+ square-foot sports palaces, developed with WD Partners, opened in April 2021 in Rochester, New York. A month later the wraps came off the second in West Town Mall, Knoxville TN. The third iteration opened in suburban Minneapolis and all three are on sites of closed Sears stores.

This full-scale customer experience immersion is designed as “immersive product engagement.” Each is a super-sized 100,000+ square-feet shopping arena with hands-on testing and authentic sporting experiences, including an outdoor Olympic-grade running track, a soccer field and hockey rink as “testing ground, ” in-store gear repair and rental departments, individual shops for various outdoor activities including biking, camping, fishing, paddling, skiing, climbing, running, and hiking … and more playing fields that can be converted to ice skating rinks, rock walls, batting cages and all sorts of other immersive environments.

Providing an unparalleled customer experience is a top priority for Dick’s. They have made significant investments in training to provide an enhanced level of service to athletes/customers to ensure that Dick’s remains both a fun and rewarding place to work. They also leverage technology to provide access to unique in-store elements, such as HitTrax™ batting cages, TrackMan™ golf simulators, and premium full-service footwear decks.

The company has grown its loyalty program, ScoreCard, with a record number of members accounting for more than 40 percent of its total sales. The focus on in-store experience is the center of its omnichannel experience and in 2002, 90 percent of total sales came from the physical stores, including in-store pickup and curbside service.

In Service and of Service

Dick’s is making a major investment in community sports, engaging local hockey teams through ice-time rental and family open skating on their stadium-lit, outdoor ice rink. Summer camp sports programs are also planned. In-store events include homeschool P.E. which speaks volumes to community outreach as well as building lifetime customer value.

The latest center in Oakdale Mall in Johnson City, New York, now houses the country’s largest Dick’s Sporting Goods, with an ice rink and a large turf field.  Dick’s commitment to vastly expanding the Dick’s House of Sport concept is a validation of the importance of investing in immersive experiences.  Just as department store anchors were fundamental to the development of malls and centers of the past, these immersive branded environments are becoming magnets and destinations in these reinvented mixed-use venues.

The GameChanger app has become the premier scoring and statistics mobile app for youth sports and allows families and sporting communities to stay engaged in the game, even while away from home with its live sports feed. The app has also allowed Dick’s to strengthen its relationships with young athletes and their families.

These retail destinations are designed to get shoppers to purchase more of the products used in these activities and are also test labs to evaluate which elements can be rolled out to existing and smaller locations in Dick’s portfolio.

Purpose Playbook

The House of Sport supports Dick’s community and natural world commitment as it says, to help more people get outside and protect America’s public lands. The company says one percent of all sales will be donated back to local and national conservation efforts.

The Purpose Playbook highlights the efforts of employees across four major sustainability pillars. One of these pillars, Protecting Our Home Court, centers on protecting the environment, and Dick’s made progress in 2022 in its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Another pillar, Leveling the Playing Field, promotes inclusivity, and they have pledged to allocate $300 million of annual spending to diverse suppliers by 2025. Clearing Hurdles, giving everyone the chance to play, and Raising the Bar, providing customers with innovative and responsible products, are the other two pillars.

Taking a radical stance, Dick’s has also been active in social issues, establishing a foundation for athletic programs in 2014 and, more controversially, stopping sales of assault-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines in 2018 while raising the age to purchase other weapons to 21 at the same time.

Women in Sports

Dick’s has also made a commitment to champion women, highlighting the importance youth sports play in the lives of girls. Hobart says, “Dick’s is committed to championing girls and women in sports. We know that when young female athletes have access to the proper equipment and can look up to other female athletes, they are more likely to remain in a sports program and gain the skills to help equip themselves to be future leaders. We intend to stay at the forefront of advocating for female athletes and athletics.” Among several female-focused initiatives, Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation has donated over 100,000 DSG Brand sports bras to under-resourced female athletes across the country, partnering with Good Sports, a nonprofit organization that provides athletic equipment, apparel and footwear to young athletes in need. And the company’s first-ever Girls’ Power Panel for girls ages 13-17 gives a younger generation of females a voice to provide general insights on sports issues.

Brand Partnerships

Dick’s has made a number of acquisitions. Golf Galaxy (an immersive golf shopping experience with the use of golf simulators and in-store AI technology), Gaylan’s Trading Company, Chick’s Sporting Goods, the game-streaming company GameChanger Media and the intellectual properties of The Sports Authority. It has built out its DSG private label merchandise, targeting over $2 billion in sales.

Ahead of the curve, Dick’s has also been on the leading edge of omnichannel capabilities, launching ship-from-store back in 2013, BOPIS a year later and curbside pick-up in 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic.

Phenomenal Growth

While others in the sporting goods field have struggled — or even disappeared — Dick’s has prospered, which is even more remarkable as so-called category-killer formats have generally not done well for the past decade or so. Dick’s multiple formats are key; they are covering all bases and not letting anybody else edge into their business.

Dick’s vision and mission have paid off and delivered record sales of $12.4 billion. The ROA was 11.6 percent for the fiscal year 2022 compared to the category killer industry at 8.8 percent. The company’s compounded three-year annual growth was 8.2 percent.

All told, Dick’s is a 75-year-old radical doing well by doing good.



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