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Congratulations to our client Mizuno Corp.  for making the prestigious Internet Retailer Hot 100. Mizuno, a leading sporting goods company, made the list by understanding its customers and finding new ways to engage with them in every possible way on every platform.

Internet Retailer had some interesting statistics about the overall category, which includes toys, sporting goods and hobby products noting that although this vertical is has made gains online, there is a lot of room for growth.

  • Online sales for sporting goods merchants in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide jumped 8.23 percent year over year in 2012.
  • Web sales for Top 500 Guide toys and hobbies increased 16.09 percent.
  • As a percentage of total sales, online accounted for 13.3 percent of U.S. toy sales last year—a greater percentage than such categories as mass merchants and apparel and accessories.
  • And, also as a percentage of sales, 6.8 percent of sporting good sales—beat jewelry, housewares and home furnishings, and health and beauty items.

Internet Retailer also highlighted one of the biggest challenges for the category – attempting to satisfy consumers need to touch, try on and test these types of product before buying.  Finding our non-tactile methods to encourage buying online can be a challenge.

Mizuno is attempting to overcome that  obstacle by giving online sports equipment shoppers the digital equivalent of a professional fitting at a store and by featuring a lot of videos that seek to replicate the expert advice that would come from associates working the counter.  The company also uses multiple product shots, testimonials from pro athletes and forums where specific products and interests are being discussed.

Social media and mobile are also being leveraged by merchants in this growing category as many find innovate ways to engage consumers and encourage sharing of photos, information and offers.  Mizuno has multiple Twitter accounts. For example: if a consumer is a runner they can just follow Mizuno Running. The company also has many channels for engaging customers and fostering communities that have specific interests such as running, golf, volleyball, etc.

As long as merchants, such as Mizuno, continue to innovate and listen to their core audience, the more success they will see selling online.