Drawing the parallels between sports, racing and the world of ecommerce: insights by GMG’s VP Digital & Omni

January 28, 2024

By Jonathan Flender, Vice President – Digital & Omni

As a sports and racing enthusiast, I draw inspiration from my personal pursuits in racing, tennis, and padel. These activities highlight the parallels between sports and successful business strategies. The quest for excellence, data-driven decisions, and meticulous preparation are not only principles in racing but also the cornerstones for achieving victory in the business arena. As VP Digital & Omni of GMG’s Sports Division, I oversee functions ranging from product management (web/app) and e-commerce trading to BI, Analytics & Data Science, Acquisition & Retention Marketing, Studio Production, Content as well as Omnichannel. This comprehensive approach aims to achieve the bottom line for both online and offline businesses, creating a synergy that ensures the brand's success.

1. How has your personal passion helped you as a leader?

As the VP Digital & Omni , I believe in embodying the spirit of a sportsman, instilling a sense of fellowship and collaboration in my team. Driven by performance and quality execution, I find that successful and profitable businesses require high-quality preparation, data-driven decisions, and a relentless pursuit of excellence —aligning perfectly with the world of car racing and sports. It's immensely rewarding to lead and support teams operating in this realm

2. Can you share any team success stories or projects that you're particularly proud of?

One notable accomplishment is the success of GMG’s omnichannel campaign for the Sports Division's outdoor collection. With over 50 team members collaborating seamlessly across digital and brick-and-mortar channels, the campaign not only launched on time but also demonstrated a level of execution that we, as leaders of innovation, take great pride in. It serves as a testament to the power of collaborative efforts in achieving remarkable results.

3. What are some common challenges in E-commerce, and are there specific strategies or initiatives to curb these?

In an ever-changing retail landscape, challenges for e-commerce include tech debt and data quality. The team is fully committed to addressing these challenges by focusing on acquiring and cleaning data for both offline & online customers, ensuring improved data quality, and accuracy. GMG has embarked on a transformative journey, fixing and rebuilding on solid foundations with initiatives spanning from connected in-store experiences (endless aisle, click and collect, e-kiosks, e-receipts) to enhanced online platforms (personalization, voice of customers, new e-commerce platforms). The goal is to delight customers by delivering top-notch services.

4. Are there specific technologies that you believe will revolutionize the way sports merchandise is sold online?

AI will play a crucial role, providing high-quality insights to assist customers in making informed purchase decisions. In contrast to pure fashion, where purchases are often emotion-driven, a sports purchase entails additional considerations such as quality, weight, comfort, and performance. AI can process and understand an almost infinite amount of data, matching it to a customer query to provide recommendations. The future of sports e-commerce looks promising with laser-accurate product recommendations and AI-driven bots engaging in discussions with customers.

5. What motivates you the most in your role, and what keeps you inspired in the ever-changing landscape of sports e-commerce?

I find fulfillment in fixing things and seeing progress, but my greatest pride comes from seeing my team making significant progress and evolution. Working with leaders who share the same mindset, laser-focused objectives, a sense of ownership, responsibility, and strong work ethics inspires me. The ever-changing digital landscape aligns perfectly with a mindset geared towards hyper-performance and perfection.

6. For aspiring professionals in the sports e-commerce space, what advice would you give them for building a successful career?

Despite the shifts in the workforce influenced by Gen Z values, my advice remains consistent: always “Walk the Talk.” Never stop learning, stick to your word, under promise and over deliver, work for something you truly like. Since we spend 80% of our lives at work, it's crucial to do something we love. Finally, never give up!