15 Sports and Outdoor Brands with Action-Packed Ecommerce Site Designs
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Professional snowboarder Travis Rice once said, “I wouldn’t even call snowboarding a sport. For me it’s just a way of life.”
Rice isn’t the only person who feels this way. Many people who participate in sports or outdoor activities — particularly those that some might call “extreme” — do more than just dabble. For them, it becomes an integral part of their lifestyle, shaping the way they spend their free time, who they share it with, and how they view the world.
For growing lifestyle brands, this is both a tremendous challenge and a tremendous opportunity. On one hand, you have the chance to build lasting relationships with consumers who will evangelize your brand to their network of fellow enthusiasts — if you can “strike the right ratio and speed when it comes to novelty, product, and honest, value-driven storytelling.”
On the other hand, these consumers have very particular needs — and high expectations — that can be difficult to meet. You’re not just selling a snowboard, or a surfboard, or a pair of running shoes or a water bottle. You’re selling the unique way that you can help them bring their aspirations to reality and achieve their wildest goals.
Successful lifestyle brands “go above and beyond traditional marketing so they can embed themselves in their audience’s lives in the long run, instead of co-opting a subculture for short-term gain.” — Michael Schonfeld
Let’s take a look at these 15 ecommerce sites from BigCommerce merchants in the sports and outdoors space and how they have found success by:
- Selling not just a product, but an experience and participation in a cultural conversation.
- Understanding that form is as important as function — the aesthetic is key.
- Building a community based on shared values.
- Maintaining ongoing customer relationships by adding additional value.
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With ski and snowboard brand K2’s homepage, consumers are immediately immersed in the experience with a full-screen background video (visit the website to check this out — the still screenshot above doesn’t do it justice!). It opens with scenes that demonstrate their gear’s strength and craftsmanship, then shows you what it looks like in action — and it’s pretty fantastic.
This isn’t the only place K2 uses video to make their ecommerce experience more compelling. The brand uses content to connect with consumers and communicate their shared culture by putting the experience — not the product — front and center. The products are there, but secondary.
User-generated content in the form of an Instagram feed further showcases both the experience and the community aspect, saying, “You can be a part of this — and this is really cool.”
K2 utilizes headless commerce functionality from BigCommerce to integrate backend checkout functionality — ensuring PCI compliance, checkout uptime, and security — with a frontend content management system that allows them greater flexibility to provide a content-rich customer experience.
Additional K2 Sports sites using headless commerce include Ride, Line, Full Tilt Boots, and Madshus. Read on to see more about how these brands, too, are making rich content an integral part of the shopping experience.
Ride Snowboards uses headless commerce from BigCommerce to go all in on the punk/skater aesthetic of the 90s and early aughts, from the graffiti-esque background to the grainy video of a snowboarder grinding down a stair rail. The cultural references to skateboarding speak to a particular kind of snowboarder — one that doesn’t feel the need to be limited to designated mountain trails.
But the site doesn’t just rest on its cultural cache. It can sometimes be difficult to imagine purchasing something like a snowboard online — it’s a very tactile experience, after all. This is one of the biggest challenges of sports and outdoors ecommerce.
To solve for this, Ride’s product pages include a wide variety of imagery, video, and detailed specs and information to help customers feel like they’re experiencing the product right through their screens. Customer reviews are also prominently featured on product pages — because no matter how much they trust your brand, they likely trust their community more.
Line, whose tagline is “Skiing the wrong way since 1995,” doesn’t exactly mirror the skater aesthetic of Ride’s ecommerce shop — but it does have a specific story to tell about who they are and what audience they’re here to serve.
Source: History of LINE Skis
One of the foundations of building community and selling experience is crafting a unique narrative. That’s exactly what Line does on their History page: “Skiing is un-fun. That was probably the best way to describe the sport in the early 1990’s. … [O]ur mission has always been the simple goal of making skiing MORE FUNNER!”
At first glance, this page breaks a lot of ecommerce and marketing rules: grainy photo, incorrect grammar. But good marketing knows the rules so it can break them for the sake of cultural credibility — when a low-resolution photo is the more compelling one, and when your message just feels MORE RIGHTER when you take a little license with the grammar.
“Only by having a distinctive voice can a brand generate shareable content that resonates.” — Christopher Morency, for Highsnobiety
Source: Full Tilt Boots
Full Tilt Boots, another K2 brand using BigCommerce for headless commerce, makes their boots — the superb quality along with all their specs and features — the star of the show. High-resolution, close-up images and video on every page provide shoppers with a 360-degree view of the product.
Pro testimonials and real customer reviews are also featured prominently across the site, alongside user generated content from Instagram.
Madshus is the K2 brand for serious skiers. Images across the site show competitive skiers of all styles using the ski, boot, and pole products, along with accessories.
Madshus also does a good job of segmenting its customers through the navigation, providing several choices for the approach to browsing products.
6. Race Wax
Source: Race Wax
Like the other ecommerce sites we’ve looked at so far, Race Wax’s homepage drops you into the action with bright, immersive imagery and immediate messaging. But one of the most important things that this ski and snowboard wax and tuning site does is take the time to educate its customers.
Source: Race Wax Tuning Tips
“The site has a clean feel, easy navigation, and the learning center provides a comprehensive self-help approach. It provides value to both novices and pros alike.
“The site also offers a mobile resource to the ski/snowboard enthusiast that draws the customer back, encouraging them to brag to their friends about their great find, thereby exponentially driving more sales/customers without having to increase advertising spending.
“The result is that our site has increased sales in every year of its 16-year existence while spending less on advertising each year.”
— Marc Desrosiers, owner of Race Wax
7. Gill Marine
Source: Gill Marine
For the average Joe, there is a saying: “The best two days of a boat owner’s life is the day you buy it and the day you sell it.” For the more dedicated, there is Gill Marine. A UK-born brand, Gill Marine has a long legacy of providing innovative, high-quality marine apparel to Olympic teams, sailing enthusiasts, and businesses around the world.
In addition to the vivid lifestyle imagery on the homepage, shoppers also see the icons below the carousel, which serve a customer-first message to optimize for conversion. Statistics have shown time and time again that carts are often abandoned because of delivery cost, shipping time, or unsatisfactory return policy, so Gill Marine counteracts this uncertainty right away.
Slumberjack is an outdoor brand focusing on tents, shelters, sleeping bags, packs, and apparel for outdoor adventurers — particularly, hunters.
Product pages include all the information a hunting enthusiast wants to know, from the description (“‘arms out’ dexterity … [to] read at night, grab a cold beverage, or organize gear without having to unzip.”) to the specs (temp rating, weight, size, packed size, and how tall you can be before the bag starts to get uncomfortable) and details. You’ll see customer reviews and recommended products below.
They also have a Community section which includes meat care tips and wild game recipes like venison sausage acorn squash.
Like other sites we’ve looked at, the Bushnell ecommerce site drops you into the action with vibrant imagery. But some other things that the brand does particularly well is communicate its values and also add value to customers as they look for the products they need.
In the Community section of the website, the brand has a page dedicated to its partnership with Folds of Honor — a charitable organization that supports families of fallen veterans.
Bushnell also adds value through content that helps educate customers on the product so that they can make an informed buying decision. A couple of examples:
- The Riflescope Finder is a quiz to help customers identify the riflescope that best fits their needs.
- An interactive buyers guide helps customers select the right piece of gear based on activity or product.
10. Solo Stove
Source: Solo Stove
Solo Stove sells fire pits and camp stoves, but what founders Jeff and Spencer Jan really care about the most is togetherness.
“Our product encourages people to go make memories with their loved ones. You typically don’t see people sitting around a fire by themselves — they normally are with friends and family. There’s something really cool about that,” said CEO John Merris. “Solo Stove is focused on helping people reconnect to what matters most, and BigCommerce has helped us take that to the next level.”
Solo Stove adjusts for that by providing several ways on the homepage to either choose your category of product or to learn more. One section promotes the Top Sellers — so customers can see what most other people are buying. This is a great way for customers to get to know a new merchant.
They also offer a section describing how the Solo Stove works, complete with easy-to-understand illustrations.
Source: Solo Stove
They offer social proof with an“As Seen In” section naming significant publications like Backpacker, Men’s Health, The Wall Street Journal, Survivalist, and The Huffington Post.
And they include user-generated content through the Instagram hashtag #solostove, so customers can see the product in action, along with comments from real people.
“Thanks to BigCommerce, we scaled our business from our very first order to now a recognized brand, and the platform is able to grow with us as we need it to.” — Solo Stove CEO John Merris
Read more about how Solo Stove increased conversion rate, traffic, and average order value with BigCommerce.
Camelbak has a more diverse audience than some of the sites we’ve looked at so far. On their homepage, then, they show a lot of engaging images that functionally segment customers by what they’re looking for — kids’ bottles, packs, or insulated bottles, for example.
Camelbak products solve for a number of use cases, and the way they categorize their products on the site helps route those customers to where they need to go. For example, under Sport, customers can choose Mountain Bike, Bike (All Purpose), Hike, Run, General Use, Watersports, and Ski/Snowboard.
12. Training Mask
Source: Training Mask
In 2010, Training Mask CEO Casey Danford created the original Training Mask, pairing resistance breathing with sports performance to help make athletes’ workouts more intense. Vivid photography of the product in action makes the site an experience.
But the really important thing that Training Mask recognizes about its audience is that they’re typically engaging in serious training. They want to know the science behind the product is sound — so the brand reinforces that efficacy by referencing studies from legitimate peer-reviewed medical journals and conferences.
Product pages have a variety of images, a description that speaks to the audience’s use case, reviews, and interactive information into how it works. The site also has a collection of videos to inspire new workouts and encourage return visits.
Kap7 isn’t just a store — it’s a hub for all things water polo. In addition to offering all the products you need to participate, it also aggregates news about the competitive sport from around the world and offers training resources.
“We are now averaging 30% growth YoY on BigCommerce. The first year we moved over, we saw a 400% spike in sales from what we were doing on the custom platform. That was in two months of going live!” — Alex Young, General Manager at Kap7
BigCommerce has also helped Kap7 put more emphasis on added value through content.
“The BigCommerce platform has the flexibility for us to provide applicable marketing content to each customer type we have defined. Our marketing campaigns are developed around providing value to coaches, parents, players, and water polo enthusiasts.”
14. Ride the Tide
Source: Ride the Tide
As with most other product categories we’ve looked at, buying a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) online may at first glance seem difficult. Ride the Tide tries to mimic the personal service aspect of the in-store experience through a “Find Your Board” feature, which allows customers to select their use case, weight, and level of experience for a personalized search experience.
15. Moment Surf Co.
Source: Moment Surf Co.
One of the goals of Moment Surf Co.’s ecommerce site is to emphasize community through integrating the in-store experience into the site.
“Our store has a unique design that incorporates locally shot images throughout the store. Every category, subcategory, and brand has their own unique banner that visually tells a story about our brand in our unique Pacific Northwest way. We also put a high emphasis on our homepage in establishing the fact that we are much more than a web store, we are a surf shop and a community.” — Jeff Mollencop, Moment Surf Co.
The brand also invests in content. Their Coldwater Culture blog uses storytelling to reinforce community and educational posts to add value for customers (and which likely also boosts their SEO value) through helpful resources like “What is the Right Wetsuit For Me?”
A recent 2pm Member Brief (paywalled) reminds us, “Most successful brands today are fan-made. They’ve been emboldened by imagined communities of consumers who share tastes, ideals, and interests.”
Some of the resulting competitive advantages include higher instances of word-of-mouth marketing — potentially leading to lower customer acquisition costs — and higher retention rates and lifetime value due to customers’ affinity for and investment in the community.
Lifestyle brands like the ones we’ve looked at here capitalize on the advantages that go along with these imagined communities by adding value to their consumers, reinforcing community, and providing an immersive experience that — as much as possible — supports the personal service they would get if they were buying from a brick-and-mortar.
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