Lace up your sneakers, put your sweat bands through the washing machine, make a pitiful attempt at a couple of lunges and let’s go for a run.
Don’t worry, I’ll catch you up later. I just have some work to finish around… this… uh… hot-dog.
Nike is the world’s most valuable sports brand according to Forbes. It has a market value of $71bn, $19bn of which is estimated to be pure brand value. Nike also commands 62% of the US athletic footwear market.
Impressive stuff, but what of its nearest sporting rival Adidas? Has it been left puffing and wheezing, meters behind its striding opponent as it desperately rummages around its kit bag looking for an inhaler?
Adidas is still an impressive third in the most valuable sports brand list. Although its brand value has gone down to $5.8bn from $7.1bn last year. According to Forbes “Adidas has not been helped by repeated injuries to NBA star Derrick Rose… whom it signed in 2012 to a 13-year $185m deal.” The biggest ever deal of its kind.
Market struggles aside, Nike also routinely trounces Adidas in other areas. During the 2012 London Olympics, Nike beat Adidas for social buzz which is particularly galling as Adidas was the official sponsor. The same happened again during the 2014 Brazil World Cup, where official sponsor Adidas saw less than 1m shares for its ads but non-sponsor Nike achieved 2.3m shares.
Everyone loves an underdog though, and despite Nike’s dominance in certain areas, it doesn’t mean that Adidas is losing every race. As far as we’re concerned the only thing that matters is which brand is providing its loyal customers with the best experience on its ecommerce stores. That’s the real prize! Although I’m sure Nike’s finance team would argue differently.
Regardless, this is the race we’re marshalling. So let me take out my starter’s pistol, which I snuck into the office this morning, and shout loudly “ready, set… oh I’ve been wrestled to the ground.”
Here is Nike.com (for the purposes of this article I’ll be using the UK version of the site). It’s a non-responsive site disappointingly, but Nike does operate a specific mobile site.
The search benefits from a predictive entry field.
Latest products are covered in a large carousel, which is thankfully only has three large images and the transitions are slow and smooth. Each product has its own ‘shop now’ button.
Navigation-wise you’re treated to a detailed mega menu which appears when you hover over each tab along the top and is tailored to each section. There are probably many better and higher contrasting choices than dark-grey text on grey though.
My favourite feature here is the use of images within the ‘sports’ tab. Something I’ve not seen before.
Each option takes you through to the respective sport’s landing page. The football area is essentially an entire ecommerce site in of itself. It has its own navigation, menus, carousel of highlighted products and its own specific content.
This is also where you can customise your football shirts and football boots. The app with which you can do this online is particularly fun and easy to use. I made this monstrosity…
Top marks for placing its ‘free returns’ message so prominently (normally it’s hidden away somewhere down below the fold) and being clear on the free delivery minimum.
My only criticism is the different delivery options available, including click and collect, are cycled through on a carousel when there’s actually plenty of room on the page to include them all. Each option is definitely worth shouting about.
As for the product pages, I think they’re a thing of beauty. Relatively speaking when it comes to shopping for neon shoes.
Massive high-def images, with access to a range of views in the thumbnails to the left. Easy switch between different colours and styles. Social share buttons. Clear and well-detailed drop-down menus. An eye-catching call-to-action…
The free delivery and return incentives are also clearly highlighted. It’s a quality, uncluttered experience.
Once you’ve added the item to the cart, a pop-up briefly confirms this and tells states you’ve qualified for free shipping.
The cart itself is again uncluttered, with large buttons, a single bright call-to-action and the ability to use PayPal is offered.
One criticism I have is the inability to pick speedier, premium delivery options. If I want them same or next day I would have to go to another site.
Once proceeding to checkout you’re presented with an option for guest checkout, which is key for a speedy, distraction-free user experience.
I also like the commitment to PayPal and the fact that it states what the benefits are of becoming a ‘Nike member’ during checkout. Also ‘Nike member’ sounds a little more enticing than ‘create an account’.
I was surprised to be presented with this screen after already being presented with similar options in the cart though. Is there any need for this? Surely the guest checkout option could be integrated into the cart thus saving an entire page for the customer to to navigate through.
Checkout itself is largely faultless. Although the option to click and collect could be made much bolder and earlier in the process. The text boxes are large and has autofill enabled. There’s an option to enable express checkout for next time. Finally it all happens in a single screen, which is great for user experience and speed.
One final touch that I enjoyed… I added an item to my basket on Nike’s site for a post I wrote over a few weeks ago. I am happy to say that the item is still in the basket.
Much like Nike, Adidas doesn’t have a responsive desktop site. Instead it relies on a separate m. site to capture the attention of small screen users. Which is just about everyone in the whole world now I would say?
Here’s the desktop site…
These sports brands love a carousel.
However the doubling up of the current carousel with the clickable image link below seems like a bit of a waste. The carousel also moves at a fairly breakneck pace, which doesn’t make for a calming experience.
Search is a bit weird. I would normally expect to type my search term in the box that says search, but no. It brings up an entirely new drop down box, which you then have to click in at the other end of the screen.
It does offer predictive text entry, although the results take up half the screen and this doesn’t feel like the best use of space.
The mega menu looks pretty similar to Nike’s, although the black on white is certainly better than Nike’s dark grey on grey.
Like Nike, Adidas has an interactive app for designing your own trainers. The unpronounceable…
This is currently taking as long to load as it takes to write this sentence. Now it’s saying error…
Product listing pages are clear and contain strong images. I’m also a big fan of sorting by clicking options from the left hand menu.
So far thought there’s no clue about its delivery charges, options or returns policy.
As for the product page, there’s very little to separate Adidas from Nike, apart from subtler sharing and call-to-action buttons.
Both brands even have ‘wishlist’ tools and a handy pop-out size chart. The only difference is that Nike’s size chart gives a step-by-step visual guide to measuring your feet properly. Adidas is all text.
When I add an item to my bag, I finally find out shipping costs. £3.95 for standard. This is far to late in the journey to reveal this. Also after glancing down at how much it costs to get free delivery (£100) I balk at the amount.
Checkout sign-in is clear enough, and thankfully has a guest checkout option. I have also been told that I can pay with PayPal prior to this.
Entering the delivery address is easy, and has an autofill option. I also like that I’m told I’ve made a mistake as I go along, rather than after clicking on the ‘review and pay’ button.
One minor complaint is that this could’ve easily been a single screen checkout, rather than splitting it up between three different pages.
Other disappointments are a lack of faster delivery options, lack of click and collect and I had to do some serious digging before I discovered any information on returns (it’s free)
A few things missing from both sites…
Featuring customer reviews would be great, especially as these can drive trust and through social proof, drive conversion. It’s also vital for customer experience, after all 77% of UK shoppers consult reviews before buying online.
There’s nowhere on the page that highlights items I’ve just looked at.
There’s a lack of personalisation. Unlike Amazon or similar ecommerce sites, everyone will be served with the same homepage and products no matter what they’ve bought in the past. When I click on websites that are clearly targeted to me, thanks to my browsing and purchase history I feel like I’m home. Something I don’t get with either of these sites.
Adidas doesn’t offer multichannel returns and when I checked on Nike’s site I found this less than helpful piece of info…
As much as I was hoping for an underdog story, unfortunately it just wasn’t Adidas’s day to shine. Nike’s site isn’t without it’s flaws (as mentioned above) but compared to Adidas it’s a much more fleet-footed athlete, bursting proudly across the finishing line as its competitor gets stitch and collapses to the ground calling for a medic.
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