With third-party cookies on their way out, how are sporting goods brands strategizing to both weather the storm and seize opportunity? Let’s find out.

As you’ve probably heard, Google plans to phase out third-party cookies by 2024. Gone are the days of easy-peasy data tracking for personalized shopping in sporting goods, crucial in a sector awash with complex product selections and fierce competition. Now, eCommerce managers face the challenge of reimagining strategies for customer understanding and engagement without this rich source of data.  
Enter Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), the new ringmaster in this digital circus, with guided selling as one of its star performers. Throughout, we’ll be exploring how this duo is reshaping the online shopping experience for sporting enthusiasts, while turning what could’ve been a nightmare into a lucrative silver lining for retailers. 

But first, let’s explore what all the fuss is about if you’re not caught up yet. 

What exactly is happening with third-party cookies and why is CRO the solution? 

Google’s Tracking Protection restricts 3rd-party cookies by default, rolled out to 1% of Chrome users globally on Jan 4, 2024, with the rest due the second half of the year. Sporting goods retailers are now facing a bind. The once handy tools of cookie-driven personalization are becoming a thing of the past, demanding a swift pivot to innovative approaches like leveraging first-party data and strengthening direct customer relations. 

In this sink or swim scenario, CRO presents itself as a life raft, making your eCommerce store more effective, not just busier. It’s like fine-tuning a machine so that more people who visit your site actually do what you want them to do, such as buying a product or signing up for a newsletter. Instead of just trying to get more visitors, CRO focuses on increasing the percentage of those visitors who take a key action. Less about drawing a bigger crowd but making more out of the existing one. With CRO, you can craft product discovery so seamless that customers don’t miss the cookies they never knew (or cared) they had. 

CRO and guided selling in action – see how they shine in sporting goods 

With the global sporting goods market projected to soar to $208.81 billion by 2026 and the median average order value for these retailers climbing from $231 in 2022 to $261, the industry is at a critical juncture. With its diverse and often specialized product range, it requires a nuanced approach to customer engagement and CRO. 

Enter guided selling, one such nuanced approach. This product discovery tech emulates the personal feel of an in-store advisor, leading you to the perfect product by asking all the right questions. An example being how it can identify your ideal pair of trainers, asking about gender, age, terrain and sport. It then narrows down a selection from potentially 1000s of products, differentiating between – for instance – hiking vs. running or football vs. basketball. It’s spot-on when you tactfully embed it in your platform, triggering the guidance at that ‘aha’ moment in the customer journey. And ideally, offering a balanced mix of questions – enough to intrigue, not to overwhelm. 

It’s a solution that encapsulates the joy of product discovery and the satisfaction of knowing you made the right choice thanks to expert advice. There are few things more powerful than that when it comes to making customers splash the cash. 

Guided selling is already making waves for major sporting goods retailers 

Who doesn’t love a good use case to validate the claims of a total stranger? Meet Bergfreunde – or Alpine Trek as they’re known in the UK. They’re a huge name in sporting goods and a 12 yearlong user of FactFinder’s product discovery platform, with guided selling being the brand’s MVP. Offering a product range of tens of thousands of items and a ton of brands, it was critical to stimulate the experience of having in-store consultation, both for sporting enthusiasts and beginners. 
In sessions with guided selling, Bergfreunde witnessed an increased conversion rate, with their Product Management Teamlead, Melanie Giebler, says, “Our shoppers love guided selling. People convert better, and that was the starting signal to expand the guided selling feature to other product categories.”

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The critical next steps: adopting CRO and exploring the power of guided selling 

Now is the time to act. Google is not second guessing with their decision to phase out third-party cookies. It’s happening whether we like it or not, but the fact is, we should like it. Being one of CRO’s top players, guided selling is poised not only to provide shoppers with a better experience, but also help eCommerce managers adopt a more customer-friendly mindset. It’s about returning to our roots as merchants, harkening back to those days beside our stalls, beckoning shoppers to peruse our wares and guiding them in selecting the right product. Shopping should be personalized. It should be fun, making customers want to come back for more time and time again.  

Want to know more about guiding selling? Get in touch. 

Our experts are ready to explore everything you need to know about guided selling, including how easy it is to integrate and leverage with FactFinder. Just click the button below to begin.