Managing the world’s largest online Football, Tennis, Rugby and Cricket stores comes with its own set of unique challenges. We caught up with Nick Marlow – Project Manager of Platform Operations at Pro:Direct Sport – to find out more.
From Humble Beginnings
“Starting life as a sportswear goods store in Torquay in 1981, Torre Sports served customers in the local area for 17 years before re-branding as Pro:Direct Sport. Fully embracing the dot-com boom, the online business was launched in 1999 – and has since become a household name and the go-to place for many sports enthusiasts.”
Aiming specifically at the exclusive sportswear market, Pro:Direct Sport now hold the largest market share in the UK for this sector. Through a mixture of exclusive products, the latest available technologies, brand positioning and excellent customer service – the company has been able to achieve their growth objectives.
Keeping up with the ever-changing trends online as well as customer preferences takes a lot of work, planning and system flexibility. Nick continues “We use email extensively when communicating with our customers – and we are careful to tailor our messages appropriately to the customer’s gender and sport interest – as well as taking account of their brand and range preferences.
Communication is not just limited to emails and visitors to the site. We have channels on all the popular social media platforms to help us engage with as wide an audience as possible.
Interviews with sports stars, ‘unboxing’ exclusive products and training tips are just a few of the 1000+ videos on our YouTube channel that has over 50,000 subscribers.”
Accurate, Flexible, Managed
Having exclusive products and the largest range of sports apparel online is a key factor in customers choosing Pro:Direct Sport; another highly important factor of course is making sure the orders get to the customers – this relies on contact data being correct.
“We had the option for an installed or hosted solution and went down the hosted route to ensure our customers can still place orders in the event of our own systems failure. It gives us one less thing to maintain and worry about.”
For the past 14 years, AFD Software has provided Pro:Direct Sport with address lookup functionality for the UK and for the past 8 years for International addresses too.
Nick goes on to say “AFD’s solution was initially used as a desktop service for telephone orders. As the focus switched to online so did our requirement from AFD Postcode Plus and WorldAddress are both deployed on the website to ensure speed and accuracy during the customer’s buying journey, regardless of where they need the product delivered.
Our customers expect the data entry process of ordering goods to be seamless, easy and error-free. Only allowing correct addresses to be entered eliminates lost orders and ensures customer satisfaction – essential to our business.
During a planned upgrade from our legacy Enterprise Relationship Planning (ERP) system, we had to be confident services would be uninterrupted during the changeover. Ensuring our customers would continue to be served with excellence was a key requirement – and AFD delivered.”
Both the UK and International address validation are deployed as managed services. Nick explains “It gives us one less thing to maintain and worry about. We had the option for an installed or hosted solution and went down the hosted route to ensure our customers can still place orders in the event of our own systems failure.”
Pro:Direct Sport facilitates a customer experience that is quick, accurate and hassle-free. Through flexible deployments and changing requirements they have been supported by both UK and International address validation provided by AFD Software.