SBJ/Aug. 19-25, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Fanatics targets mobile growth

Former Groupon VP Katz leading effort that will roll out first dedicated apps

Licensed sports merchandise distributor Fanatics is making a push into mobile e-commerce, and recently hired former Groupon Vice President David Katz to lead the effort.

Under Katz, Fanatics will release its first set of dedicated mobile applications before the end of the year. And the company is creating a new mobile development center in San Francisco to accelerate its efforts on wireless platforms. The San Francisco team will supplement a smaller, existing team of Fanatics mobile personnel in Boulder, Colo.

Groupon recently announced that nearly 50 percent of its North American transactions occur on mobile devices, in part due to the efforts of Katz, and the online discounter’s iPad app was named by Apple as one of the top 25 most downloaded free apps of all time. Fanatics is seeking similar measures of mobile growth. The retailer currently generates about 30 percent of its traffic on mobile devices, and a smaller, undisclosed percentage of actual revenue.

Until now, mobile e-commerce across the industry has been on a slower wave of growth due to several issues such as connectivity and security concerns. But as those matters become increasingly solved and younger consumers show more comfort with smartphones and tablets, revenue growth is expected to accelerate.

Digital industry forecaster eMarketer said earlier this year that total U.S. mobile e-commerce revenue is projected to nearly triple from $24.8 billion last year to $71.2 billion in 2015. Fanatics, like many retailers, is seeking to take fuller advantage of that oncoming wave of growth.

“We’re clearly a big nexus point in terms of the advancement of mobile e-commerce, and when you combine that with the passion of sports, there’s a huge opportunity,” Katz said. “So it’s our job to really take the friction out of the experience.”

Katz will initially have a team of about 30 people working for him, with an increase from there expected by early next year. The mobile effort will apply to both its Fanatics and FansEdge brands.

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