For decades, the uniform industry has primarily been focused on brick and mortar stores. Coaches, league presidents, equipment managers, and team moms would find a local sporting goods store, walk in, get a quote, and place an order. Then they’d wait for weeks while the store would contact a manufacturer, purchase the garment, ship the item to the store, and finally deliver the goods. This is how it’s been done for the last 50 years.
eCommerce has effectively changed the industry by eliminating the overhead costs required to run a physical location and employ a sales staff. Gone are the days where a customer visits a store to get their team outfitted, and then waits weeks for the product to arrive. In today’s digital age, it’s not only inefficient, it’s extremely expensive – and those extra expenses ultimately trickle down to the consumer.
With eCommerce, the process is streamlined. Websites typically offer more competitive prices than a brick and mortar sporting goods shop, because they can run on a smaller margin and still make an comparable profit. Additionally, most sporting goods stores are limited to their local market, whereas an eCommerce site is accessible to teams all over the world, and thrive by pushing more volume. In the team industry, eCommerce sites can also offer drop shipments directly from the manufacturers, cutting down on duplicate shipping and customer service costs. This evolution has been taking place across B2C retail for a number of years; and while it’s still catching up to the trend, the team industry is heading in the exact same direction.
About Jersey Basement
Jersey Basement is a specialized site dealing in team uniforms for all sports and across all ages. With over 1200 products, we’ve quickly become one of the highest volume retailers in the world for team uniforms. Prior to our launch in July, 2012, our founder, Chris Sonntag, worked for one of the largest team uniform manufacturers in the country and saw the massive potential that an eCommerce uniform website could offer.
At JerseyBasement.com, we’re exclusively an eCommerce dealer which allows us to offer much lower prices than any physical store, because our overhead is virtually zero. For the past several years one fact is undeniable – despite the fact that big box retailers are continuing to grow at a rapid pace, eCommerce is growing faster. With the help of WooThemes and WooCommerce, we’re excited to say that we are – without a doubt – the most modern team uniform website in the world. While many of our competitors are still running table-based layouts, we’re excited to offer a mobile responsive template (via the Shelflife Theme) with built-in SEO features that have already provided a steady stream of page views. In an industry where many of our competitors offer catalog PDF’s to display products, and provide a phone number instead of an integrated shopping cart, we are far ahead of the curve and have immediately become one of the premiere sites in the industry.
Why WooThemes & WooCommerce
When it comes to eCommerce platforms, there is no shortage of options and salesmen telling you why their platform is superior. Knowing that he would need industry experts to help design, develop, and launch the site, Chris enlisted the help of Arizona web development firm Bam! Flash Media, and San Diego SEO firm Smash React.
After being shown several different options, the team decided on an integrated approach. Using WooCommerce, the Shelflife theme, and several Woo Extensions and plugins, the team was confident that JerseyBasement would never become outdated. The online community, outstanding support team, and dedicated focus on continuous improvement made WooThemes and WooCommerce an easy decision. Features like cloud zoom, individual product inquiry, and product images in all-color ways are not standard in this space, so the fact that we were able to integrate these easily and in a visually-appealing manner just helped to reaffirm our decision with WooThemes.
Products & Media
We are extremely proud of the fact that we added over 1,200 products to our site before it was possible to define variations within the Mass CSV upload tool. Right now we are displaying over 1,000 products on the site, with plans to add over 200 more in the near future. The current product offering gives our customers an incredible selection to choose from.
Nearly all of our products have multiple images to show every single color option available (on some products as many as 26 images are displayed). In an industry where slight variations in color can be cause for concern, the product images give our customers confidence and assurance that the products they buy will match the color/style they need. In total, we’re just shy of 10,000 images in our media library, and have ambitions to grow this exponentially as our manufacturers add more products and make more images accessible.
A major success on the SEO side has been the ability to optimize anchor text in an effective manner using the built-in functions within WooThemes and WooCommerce. When people are looking for team apparel, they normally have a very specific idea of what they want. For example, we are far more likely to get a search for “Reversible Mesh Basketball Jersey Blue”, than we are just “Basketball Jerseys.” Many times we’ll even get SKU level searches or manufacturer specific searches. In less than three months we gained first page placement on a high number of our products by using manufacturer, item title, sport and garment type (Teamwork Old School Basketball Jersey). By having this method built into our processes and search rankings progressively getting stronger as time passes, we’re now able to focus on more general keywords and explore new niche categories.
The combination of WooThemes and WooCommerce has undoubtedly helped us build a strong keyword affiliation in a very short time period, which has ultimately increased our conversion rate.
First Responsive Site in the Industry
From the start, we knew a responsive theme would be a major priority. Mobile traffic has continued to soar over the past few years, and we didn’t want to give anybody a reason to NOT use our site. If a little league baseball coach is on a trip and needs a quick shipment of jerseys, the order can easily, securely, and seamlessly be placed using a smartphone or tablet over a 3G connection. We’re confident that we’re the only team uniform dealer to offer this, and there’s no question that it gives us a huge competitive edge.
As we’ve already discussed, in an industry where many dealers don’t have a website and require a phone call to make a purchase, WooThemes has set us up for many years of success.
The biggest hurdle for us has been finding an efficient way to add a large amount of products at once. As we continue to grow, we’ll add bigger manufacturers including Majestic, Russell, Under Armour, and possibly some major brands like Nike or Adidas. Currently, the variations aren’t too friendly in the back-end when you’ve got 4 different attributes all linked together. Depending on the availability of images, there could be in excess of 100 variations, which can get very confusing. A simple way to sort and reorder the variations would be a handy improvement in the backend.
One other request would be to make the search field SKU friendly. Currently when a user on our site searches by a SKU (i.e. 1230P) it will not yield accurate results. Over 90% of our internal site searches are SKU related or based, so this would be a huge addition for our business.