Dick’s Sporting Goods and youth football Pop Warner Little Scholars have announced a partnership under which the retailer will become the official supplier to Pop Warner in several capacities, along with taking over management of the group’s digital registration, scheduling, e-commerce sales capabilities and more, according to a press release.
The partnership makes Dick’s the official sporting goods retailer, football uniform provider, league registration provider, national data center provider and technology provider of Pop Warner and its teams, squads and participants, the release stated. Dick's will also sponsor the Pop Warner regional championships and Pop Warner super bowl, as well as the national cheer and dance championships.
In its capacity as a technology provider, the retailer’s Team Sports HQ digital platform will allow Pop Warner teams and associations to create personalized websites with online registration, order custom uniforms and FanWear, and access donations and sponsorships.
This is just the latest partnership that Dick's Sporting Goods has forged with a national youth sports organization. It has similar relationships with, among others, Little League Baseball and Softball, PONY Baseball and Softball, American Youth Soccer Association (AYSO) and Soccer Association for Youth (SAY).
By getting closer to these organizations, the retailer can lock in some exclusivity in selling teams and participants an array of gear and apparel that they absolutely need in order to play the games. It’s a low-risk, high-reward strategy, provided the retailer can deliver quality products and ease some of the management and communications challenges the operators of these leagues face. That’s where technology comes into play.
That’s what the Team Sports HQ (TSHQ) effort is all about. Dick’s spent much of 2016 building up this strategy by acquiring a handful of companies, and bringing their capabilities under the TSHQ umbrella. Dick’s Sporting Goods announced the TSHQ effort initiative at the beginning of 2016, after its acquisition of Blue Sombrero, an e-commerce website developer. Later in the year, it acquired Affinity Sports, whose software facilitates included online registration, scheduling and communications for sports organizations, and finally late last year bought GameChangerMedia, whose software enables game scoring and content management capabilities via mobile.
The retailer has continued to forge ahead in a difficult market for sports apparel and footwear, in which it is getting squeezed by Amazon. Dick’s recently reported increasing sales, but also missed profit estimates, and saw its stock value get punished for suggesting it would cut prices in an effort to better compete with the likes of Amazon. What it needs is a path to new revenue, but not a costly one — alignments with leagues full of essentially captive customers could be the answer.