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JD Sports vs Sports Direct: how to shout about smart technology

Chris Field
Chris Field

News that JD Sports has piled on the profits while Sports Direct has watched them slide has thrown the media into a frenzy of guesstimation over why two supposedly similar retail brands can record such different results.

Their analysis has mainly focused on the fact that the former is more on trend with athleisure items than the latter. However, as is so often the case when a retailer just gets its head down and stays focused on growth, the real story goes unreported, predominantly because JD Sports is a notorious non-sharer.

I can’t name names, but I can at least give you an insight into what JD does well by working with some smart tech vendors.

First of all, the way JD processes merchandise is incredibly efficient. It can manage an entire order and allocation lifecycle from a single worksheet, which cuts the time per item from hours to minutes. This has the additional benefit that merchandisers can spend the majority of their time analysing the performance of categories, enabling them to identify opportunities in season and plan effectively for next season.

In short, JD can read and respond to the market more quickly, by deploying its stock more dynamically.

Secondly, JD has been working with a high-end ecommerce provider for a number of years now, with a solution that gives the retailer a huge amount of control and easy integration across all its main online activities – merchandising, marketing and promotions, order management including returns, integration into Amazon and eBay and so forth. It also gets access to every single innovation coming out of the ecommerce supplier’s ecosystem.

JD’s privacy policies prevent me from sharing more, but there are plenty more examples not just within their business, but across the whole industry, of retailers doing great things as a result of their work with technology vendors.

The sad truth is that a lot of this goes unreported – and that doesn’t have to be the way. Case studies really are a critical tool for tech vendors, who otherwise have only their thought leadership to rely on in order to get them noticed by prospects.

Typically, the first three things a retailer wants to know about a new technology company is who they are, what they do, and who they work for. Don’t underestimate the importance of making a noise around the latter when filling your pipeline; having a well-known customer opens doors.

I’m not saying it’s always easy to get retailers to agree to publicity; there are companies like Disney that will never give permission. However, retailers will often agree to participate in something where they can see what’s in it for them. Even if getting them to sign off a formal case study for your website will take some warming up, they may participate in an industry award, a charitable activity, or speak at a suppler user day. These ‘softer’ activities may be a way to skirt around a no publicity policy, and ease them into the prospect of a press release further down the line.

To make some noise around your key customers, Fieldworks can manage your case study project. We’ll interview the customer, create the case study for your website, build a PR proposal and secure coverage of your story in media titles. We can also support with creating award entries.

Email me or give me a call on +44 (0)777 5760876 to discuss case studies for your business.

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