Summer Sports Frenzy Brings Revamped Nike.com Site

With U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm on stage hosting the Women’s World Cup, New York Yankees shortstop/heart-throb Derek Jeter batting 70 points above his major league average and Andre Agassi rising from the tennis cellar to win the French Open, the sporting goods company that outfits all of these marquee players would be foolish not to try to take advantage of this early summer sports frenzy.

How does Nike (NYSE: NKE), the world leader in sports clothing and equipment, and arguably in jazzy marketing, again differentiate itself? With a redesigned Internet site, offering online sales.

The Beaverton, Oregon, sports conglomerate is putting hundreds of Nike products on display at its new site, which is still called Nike.com. The site features items for sale in 14 sports categories, with special emphasis on basketball legend Michael Jordan’s new “Jordan” basketball clothing and equipment line.

“Online commerce is a partial return to our original roots of selling products at track meets from the trunks of our cars — rekindling the direct relationship between Nike and its consumers,” Nike Chairman Philip Knight said.

New Features

Among the features added to the redesigned site are some functional aides and a few fun activities. On the functional side, a new “Product Finder” makes finding shoes, clothing and equipment easier based on price range and sport. For soccer buffs, of which there seem to be more and more each month in the United States, Nike offers the “Boot Recommendor.” The new feature helps online shoppers find the correct soccer shoe based on their playing ability and the surface they play on.

Nike also promises that for most of its equipment it will provide technology backgrounds, to better explain the advantages and uses of each item.

On the fun side, Nike unveiled the Movie-Maker, which allows site visitors to put together video and audio post-cards to e-mail to friends. The Movie-Maker uses Nike images and sound tracks and allows the visitor to edit them to create a specific look or message.

A Couple of Strings Attached

To take full advantage of the new Nike shopping experience, however, visitors need a Web browser plug-in that can be downloaded at the site. Though that takes a bit of extra time and effort, Nike.com Creative Director Bob Lambie calls it “the difference between sitting courtside and sitting four sections up behind a pole. Without the plug-ins, you may be at the game, but you can’t see what’s going on.”

Nike.com also is not a place to look for bargains over standard retail store prices. Nike said it will list its products at full retail price, plus shipping and handling fees. For a limited time, Nike is waiving the shipping fee for purchases shipped to recipients within the United States. UPS Worldwide Logistics provides overnight, second-day and ground delivery for Nike.com orders. UPS also supplies inventory and returns management and a customer service center.

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