SportsDirect Case Study | Hybrid App | Usablenet


Two hands holding a white phone with a native app page on the left screen and a mobile web image on the right screen

About SportsDirect

Creating a High-Performing E-Commerce Hybrid App for Seamless Customer Engagement


Sports Direct is the UK’s leading sports retailer and the owner of world famous sport, fashion and lifestyle brands. In 2013, Sports Direct partnered with Usablenet to expand their digital presence with a mobile optimised site. Sports Direct saw immediate value in their new mobile experience, which soon expanded to creating a seamless multi-channel approach. In 2016, Sports Direct asked Usablenet to support the strategy and execution of an ecommerce app for one of their most popular fashion and lifestyle brands, USC. Sports Direct recognized the shift towards apps in retail with in-app customer spending reaching $116 for every $100 spent on desktop, and mobile app shoppers converting 3.7 times the rate of mobile web shoppers. 


First off, to ensure a seamless user experience across channels, the app needed to use the same ‘My Account’, ‘Registration’ and ‘Checkout’ pages from the mobile site. Additionally, Sports Direct had recently shifted to a responsive website, which makes incorporating mobile site elements more complex. 


Usablenet designed and built a high-performing HTML5 hybrid ecommerce app for USC. It combines native app pages with’s responsive mobile web pages. To incorporate’s responsive mobile web pages (account, registration and checkout), Usablenet pulled from multiple diverse sources with varying levels of sophistication. Usablenet’s UX team designed the native app pages to reflect the look and feel of, resulting in a seamless user experience regardless of the source for any individual screen. 

Usablenet’s experienced team of app developers created the native portion, which powers the core features and functionality that drive user engagement. These include:

  • Lookbook functionality: located on the homepage and within the menu, USC users can easily scroll through desired product categories using lookbooks. The lookbook functionality engages and inspires mobile shoppers, while making it quick and easy to view products. 
  • Location-aware store locator: the app leverages user location to automatically find the closest USC store locations. Alternatively, users have the option to input the zip code of their desired location. In making the mobile store locator highly usable, the USC app drives footfall.
  • Highly usable filtering: a ‘Refine & Sort’ button is located in a sticky footer on each product list page. The filtering functionality allows users to effectively narrow down the product characteristics that suit their needs. Users are shown product availability within the filter options and are able to easily reset filters they’ve already selected.
  • Intuitive product navigation: Users can easily navigate through USC’s entire product catalog. The homepage provides clear starting points for key journeys, the product list pages are highly visual while providing complete transparency of price and product availability, and the product pages are optimised to facilitate task completion.

Using Usablenet’s content publishing and management tool, U-Control, Sports Direct is able to dynamically update all the mobile content on the app homepage without developer support. Using the tool, Sports Direct effectively utilizes valuable homepage space with highly visual promotions and clear starting points for popular browsing journeys. U-Control allows Sports Direct to perform agile testing of page elements, such as testing different promotions and the impact of promoting social on the homepage.


Since the launch in June 2016, the USC app has been very popular. With around 5,000 regular returning users, the app has maintained a conversion rate of over 10% each month and continues to generate strong mobile revenue.

Well-designed mobile commerce apps provide highly usable shopping experiences that customers enjoy. Many retail brands have shifted their mobile strategy to apps, because of the expectations of mobile shoppers. 


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