The International Olympic Committee has launched a new global online store as part of an agreement with specialist sports retailer Fanatics which will for the first time make its licensed and branded merchandise available in a single unified place.

The Olympic Shop will draw on Fanatics’ vertical and on-demand manufacturing model and global supply chain to offer the largest ever collection of Olympic- and Paralympic-branded merchandise. This will include merchandise developed by licensees appointed by the IOC and the organising committees of the upcoming Paris 2024, Milan-Cortina 2026 and LA28 Olympic Games.

The site will initially launch in the US, European Union, Britain, Switzerland and Mexico before expanding into more markets after the Beijing Olympics in 2022. The IOC will continue to have a separate store for the Chinese market run on worldwide sponsor Alibaba’s Tmall retail platform in partnership with the Beijing 2022 organising committee.

The new global site can be found at https://shop.olympics.com  but will also be integrated into the IOC’s Olympics.com central website. Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner Visa is branded on the new platform as the ‘official way to pay’.

The new platform is the latest step in the IOC’s attempts to create a coherent global licensing programme, outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020, IOC president Thomas Bach’s 2014 roadmap for the future of the Olympic movement.

In the past, the official licensing programme for each edition of the Olympics fell to the Local Organising Committee (Locog) in the host nation, while National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have been allowed to license companies to create team-specific souvenirs for their own country.

The IOC has itself, up until recently, only operated a worldwide licensing programme in a handful of categories, such as films and video games, meaning that merchandising activity tended to spike locally in the period immediately before, during and after each Olympics and has traditionally fallen away in non-event years.

Timo Lumme, IOC television and marketing services managing director, told SportBusiness: “You go back to the original model, if you wanted to buy any sort of Olympic merchandise, or Olympic Games-related merchandise online, you either could or couldn’t get it depending on what country you were in. And so this is now gradually making a global market out of this.”

Three categories

The new store will sell Olympic-branded products in three new core categories designed to represent ‘past, present and future Olympic and Paralympic Games’.

The first of these – The Olympic and Paralympic Games Collection – will celebrate upcoming editions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in much the same way as the earlier Locog licensing and merchandising programmes did, and will include products such as accessories, fan gear and apparel.

This launches on the Olympic Store with a range of Paris 2024-branded products to celebrate 1,000 days to go until the start of the Games. But in the near future it will also include Milan-Cortina 2026 and LA28 Olympic Games merchandise. LA28 is understood to already have an online store, but this will be integrated into the new Olympic site in due course.

Lumme said: “It’s not just about one Games in one country, it’s about multiple games in all countries looking forwards.”

A second Olympic Heritage Collection will offer products built around iconic art and design elements from previous editions of the Games such as apparel mascots and souvenirs.

The new Olympics site launches with an Olympic Heritage lifestyle apparel collection from Lacoste after the clothing brand agreed a licensing deal with the IOC in 2018.

A third and final Olympic Collection will target a ‘young and active audience’ through branded products such as toys and games, bags, stationary items and sport equipment. This collection will be exclusively available online and at The Olympic Museum Shop in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Consumer data

Lumme said the IOC’s relationship with the specialist retailer would allow it to draw on data insights to improve its merchandise and retail offering.

“We’re going to walk before we run but I think over the course of time, the point here is not just to go global, but also to start creating types of services and products that the fans really want.

“I think the exciting thing here is that, unlike particularly football and the pro sports in the US, we’re really only scratching the surface to understand the Olympics fan better. And so I think there are a lot of insights we can garner in terms of what type of things people might want.”

Separate to the IOC deal, Fanatics has also agreed to become the official e-commerce provider for Paris 2024 event.

Lumme explained that the IOC was unable to engage Alibaba to run the platform outside of China because the company is still developing its global e-commerce footprint. However he predicted there would be ‘plenty of opportunities’ for the company to work on wider retail initiatives with the IOC in the future.

Further down the line the IOC also plans to allow all NOCs to integrate their team-specific merchandise into the new global store, thereby helping to expand the marketplace for their products. To start with, Le Coq Sportif, the official kit supplier for the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) and French Paralympic and Sports Committee (CPSF), has launched a range of apparel on the site.

Screengrab of the Le Coq Sportif section in the Olympic Shop. (IOC).

Lumme said: “The whole team side is there to be developed and we’d hope to be able to introduce sort of targeted collections from as many different country teams as possible in the future.”

He also cautiously suggested that some NOCs might be able to sell athlete-related products on the platform in the future.

“As we develop the NOC relationships, the NOCs may be able to bring various assets to bear on this. So some have more sophisticated programs than others. Some are developing arrangements with athletes whereby they may be able to include certain athlete IP, or whatever, in some of the products, but that’s still a little twinkle in the eye. There’s nothing specific or concrete on that from our side.”

Revenue and reach

Lumme said the IOC would continue to search for licensing partners to build revenues for the Olympic movement but also to reach new audiences.

“We will continue to do licensing deals as a way of doing two things: one is reaching as many Olympic fans as possible with something they treasure as a sort of Olympic memento or keepsake. And then two, of course, is to grow our product licensing, our merchandising business to create revenues for the Olympic movement. We will do this by [agreeing] licensing deals, but also by creating revenues from selling our own merchandise through our own platforms.”

Edouard Bardon, licensing managing director at Paris 2024 said: “The Official Olympic Shop is a privileged way to share the dynamism of the Games with as many people as possible, starting from today, 1,000 days before the opening ceremony of Paris 2024 Games.

“Over the next three years, Paris 2024 will unveil more than 10,000 licensed products accessible to everyone. The first products are already available on the online shop, and we will propose progressively new products as we go along in order to satisfy all desires and all audiences until 2024!”

The full list of countries where the Olympic Store will be available is: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The United Kingdom and The United States of America. By summer 2022, the IOC said the Olympic Shop will be available across the world apart from China and Russia.

Source: Sport Business