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How Summit Sports Grew Amazon Advertising Revenue Exponentially by Hitting Seasonal Targets

HEADQUARTERS

Bloomfield Hills, MI

RETAIL CATEGORY

Apparel
& Accessories

WEBSITE
CHANNELs

160%

Increase in Austin Canoe & Kayak Revenue PoP in First Three Months

8x

Increase in Snow Sport Deals Revenue PoP in First Three Months

39%

Increase in Austin Canoe & Kayak Orders PoP in First Three Months

7x

Increase in Snow Sport Deals Orders PoP in First Three Months

160%

Increase in Austin Canoe & Kayak Revenue PoP In First Three months

8x

Increase in Snow Sport Deals Revenue PoP In First Three Months

39%

Increase in Austin Canoe & Kayak Orders PoP In First Three Months

7x

Increase in Snow Sport Deals Orders PoP In First Three Months
HEADQUARTERS

Bloomfield Hills, MI

RETAIL CATEGORY

Apparel & Accessories

THE GOAL

Automate Management With Faster Response to Seasonal Shifts

Summit Sports is the parent company of several sporting goods brands that sell products on Amazon. It wanted a simple, fast, and automated solution to manage its over 25,000 SKUs on the marketplace. Because Summit Sports sells highly seasonal products like kayaks, skis, and backpacking gear, the enterprise retailer needed a solution that could adapt to the peaks and valleys of its diverse shopping seasons.

With a team of one managing Amazon Advertising, the retailer looked to an outside vendor to automate the management of its campaigns. But the technology solution it initially chose was slow to shift campaign goals as seasonal changes occured. In addition, the vendor’s hands-off approach to account management left marketplaces manager Phill Blaul in the dark as to strategy and performance.

“If I had a problem with our Amazon campaigns, all I could do was send a support message and wait for a response. There was no person I could talk with to discuss strategy or just get an overview of the data I needed,” said Blaul. Despite his limited bandwidth, Blaul went back to managing the campaigns manually so that he would at least have that critical insight into performance.

Summit Sports found a lasting solution for Amazon Advertising when it joined the beta of Sidecar for Amazon. As an existing customer, benefitting from Sidecar for Shopping, Blaul knew he would finally have the technology solution he needed in addition to the strategic insights of a channel expert. Sidecar first managed Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), and after initial success Summit Sports added more product assortments, including skis, skates, and backpacking equipment.

“We had success developing our goals for different products based on their margins and sales history, but actually implementing those targets across our various product categories and adjusting during the seasonal periods was something that Sidecar excelled at,” says Blaul. “Plus, we finally had the benefit of having an account manager to collaborate with and elevate our Amazon Advertising strategy.”

“We had success developing our goals for different products based on their margins and sales, but actually implementing those targets across our various product categories and adjusting during the seasonal periods was something that Sidecar excelled at.”

PHILL BLAUL

Marketplaces Manager, Summit Sports

THE STRATEGY

Implement Diverse ACoS Buckets to Meet Shifting Seasonal Demands

Sidecar took a hybrid approach to Summit Sports’ Amazon Advertising campaigns, creating both manual and automatic campaigns. The technology developed automatic campaigns for every product within the retailer’s catalog. In these campaigns, Amazon automatically matches products to search queries, similar to Google Shopping. Sidecar used these campaigns to identify standout keywords and products that it could bid on in the manual campaign.

Sidecar set bids by keyword in the manual campaign and grouped those keywords by brand. That allowed Sidecar’s technology to spot standout brands and target the most appropriate bids. Only top performing products and keywords were featured in the manual campaign. Each of Summit Sports’ five main product categories followed this campaign structure.

Structuring Campaigns by Margin

Further layered into this structure are Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS) buckets. Based on product margins and seasonal performance, Summit Sports developed three ACoS targets during peak seasons. High margin or private label products might receive a higher ACoS, while lower margin or third-party products might receive a lower ACoS. During the off-season, Summit Sports reduces its ACoS targets and groups products into only two buckets. This lowers spend during less profitable periods.

“What took our previous vendors weeks and even months to adjust takes Sidecar just a day or two,” says Blaul. “That has allowed us to adjust our strategy across all five product categories quickly and take advantage of seasonal opportunities.”

“The consistency is what really stands out about Sidecar. Even with shifting ACoS targets, Sidecar hit or exceeded our requirements every time.”

Selling Boats on Amazon 

Austin Canoe and Kayak (ACK), operates differently than Summit Sports’ other four product categories. It sells boats priced at upwards of $4000 dollars, in some cases. “Setting an ACoS at 10% for a big ticket item like this doesn’t make sense,” explains Blaul.

The conversion rates tend to be higher on these products because shoppers often conduct significant research ahead of time. By the time they click a specific kayak product ad, shoppers know what they’re looking for. That allowed Sidecar’s technology to set a much lower ACoS and still meet Summit Sports’ sales goals.

Blaul adds that many shoppers do not necessarily turn to Amazon when they want to purchase a boat. They don’t expect such large items to be available on Amazon and ready to ship to them via freight. That is why bidding on related product terms is a critical tactic for building awareness and driving sales for these products. Despite the lower volume of traffic to these campaigns, Sidecar’s targeted approach has helped ACK drive nearly half of the total revenue Summit Sports earns on Amazon, says Blaul.

THE RESULTS

8x Revenue Gains in Top-Performing Categories

Summit Sports saw revenue gains across all product categories Sidecar manages, but the two standout brands were ACK and Snow Sport Deals. In the first three months that Sidecar managed ACK, orders increased 39% and revenue increased 160% period over period. Throughout that period, Sidecar met the retailers’ ACoS targets.

“The consistency is what really stands out about Sidecar,” says Blaul. “Even with shifting ACoS targets, Sidecar hit or exceeded our requirements every time.” Sidecar started managing Snow Sport Deals, a discount snowboard and ski equipment brand, a year after launching ACK. In the first three months with Sidecar, revenue grew 762% period over period. Orders increased 657% during the same time period.

Looking ahead, Blaul wants to emphasize selling Summit Sports’ private label products on Amazon. “Advertising third party products is getting more cluttered on Amazon because there are so many sellers of one particular product. Focusing on our private label products will help us stand out and avoid the growing competition on the platform.”

“Working with Sidecar has been a positive experience,” says Blaul. “The people I work with are really nice and flexible. The technology works well and the consistency is great. It's nice to not have to worry about hitting your target one day only to be over-budget the next. With Sidecar I don’t have to worry about missing our targets, and I can focus my energy on more strategic tasks.” 

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