When Adidas was originally founded in SW Germany in 1949, the distance between the company and the customer was effectively null. Every single transaction in store was a runners in adidas gearpersonalized interaction and customer feedback was organically processed back into the brand’s products. It was clear from the earliest days that Adidas’ loyal customers were the heart of the business. Fast forward 66 years and Adidas is a multi-billion dollar global brand. And yet they still manage to deliver an awesome customer experience to every customer, relying on innovative technology to close the gap between company and consumer.

According to Michael Voegele, senior vice president of IT at Adidas Group, consumers today have different expectations than they did years ago. In his presentation at NRF’s The Big Show 2015, Voegele outlined the new expectations of customers today and acknowledged that they must be met in order to win their “share of wallet” and their willingness to serve as brand advocates:

  • Consumers demand holistic concepts including the product but also content and services;
  • They expect transparency from brands throughout the customer journey from manufacturing to sales to service;
  • They prefer to buy products and services customized to meet their unique needs;
  • And they will likely prefer localization and local support from brands.

Adidas has clearly risen to the challenges put forth by their modern day customer and they leverage every available channel including in-store, digital, and mobile to engage with them. As Kai Bienmueller, IT Director for Wholesale ERP Solutions at adidas Group recently shared with David Trites at SAP “It’s all about the love of sports, its uniqueness, its legacy, and the constant drive for innovation. To bring the best products to market each and every season, the company has to know what consumers want and when. We are growing dramatically and very positively in retail and especially in the e-commerce space,” said Bienmueller. However, a major challenge facing Adidas Group, and the entire industry, is omnichannel commerce. Consumers expect brands and retailers to offer a seamless shopping and buying experience in-store, online, and on mobile devices.

Michael Voegele offered some valuable advice to his fellow retailers at NRF ‘15, “If you want to be a consumer obsessed brand like Adidas, you will need to be data-driven and develop a structured way to capture, analyze, predict and ultimately influence consumer attitudes.” When it comes to technology, the top priority needs to be getting closer to the customer and better understanding them and technology is the means to do so. He says, “Brands need to become data driven and master actionable analytics to connect back to their customers. Data is the fuel and analytics is the engine at Adidas.”