ADIDAS MAKES VIRTUAL RUN IN EUROPE

Byline: James Fallon, London / Rosemary Feitelberg, New York

NEW YORK — Adidas-Salomon has set up an online shop for Europe.
About 90 items — primarily hard-to-find, sports-specific styles — were unveiled Friday at Adidas.com/the store, the site that caters to the company’s European market. Merchandise for boxing, fencing, table tennis, rowing, wrestling and weightlifting are available.
The spokesman said the products being offered are special to the site and are not available through regular retail channels, but generally are sold through sports federations or clubs. The products also are among the most expensive Adidas offers.
“We don’t look at the Web strictly as e-commerce. We look at it as a huge opportunity to present the brand to a very large number of consumers who would not see it at retail,” the Adidas spokesman said. “This is a test run in sales. It won’t be a huge volume business right away.”
The company believes there is significant untapped demand for these products.
“There are six million registered wrestlers in the U.S. alone, so we don’t see why the [brand’s] wrestling shoe market in America is only 30,000 pairs,” he said. “Part of it is the athletes don’t know where to go to find these products.”
As the company expands its e-commerce offering, it also will get the opportunity to show its total product offering direct to the consumer.
“In the U.S., retailers generally sell only 10 to 15 percent of our offering,” the spokesman said. “The consumer has no way of knowing all of what we have. With the Web, we can generate interest in our products that the retailers don’t have interest in and then generate consumer demand to pressure the retailers to widen their selection.”
The site currently caters to 15 European countries, and there are plans to expand service to cover the remaining countries on the continent.
The new site also has a bulletin board for consumers to exchange information about their favorite sports, upcoming events and products.
In the U.S., Internet shoppers will not have access to the European site, but they can continue to shop online via the domestic site, which is also called Adidas.com.
Adidas has sold online in the U.S. since the middle of last year, but the company plans an aggressive expansion of its e-commerce operations in the months ahead. The spokesman said more products will be added to the Adidas sites over the next few months, and it also will be available in more geographical regions. But he declined to provide an exact time frame.
“We only speak about it when we do it,” he said. “But e-commerce is a must for us, particularly in the U.S. It’s about the future, and we are accelerating our investment in the Web.”

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