3 Smart Ways This Sports Brand Drives Huge Merchandise Sales

Find out how sports merchandise retailer capitalizes on event-based sales opportunities (and how you can, too.)

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BY Kaleigh Moore - 11 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

When Russell Westbrook was announced as the MVP Award recipient at the NBA Awards this year, fans of his team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, were overjoyed. Jon Staub, Director of Merchandise for Legends Hospitality, saw this exciting announcement as a moment to capitalize upon for sales, too. By tapping into the buzz around Westbrook and the team, he saw that this moment created an opportunity to promote team merchandise to excited and proud fans through their online store via special edition items.

As the Oklahoma City Thunder's official third-party vendor, Legends runs a unique business model in the world of sports merchandise. All sales (both in-house and online) are managed on-site--which means the brand can often create and launch special edition items around big wins and announcements like this one at a moment's notice.

"When Westbrook won MVP, we were ready and able to launch special merchandise within about two minutes in our online store," Staub explained. "The impact of this was that within about a 12-hour window after this announcement, we made more than 500 sales to customers all over the United States who were looking for these special items. When all was said and done, we ended up making a record-breaking 3,000+ sales around this one announcement."

Launching and shipping these special items comes with a unique set of challenges, however. Because the entire merchandise operations is managed internally, accommodating a sudden uptick in order volume means that sometimes the team has to drop everything and work on getting orders out the door.

"Putting in extra man-hours is a reality for us," said Staub. "There have been days where we do nothing but order fulfillment so that our customers don't have major lag times between order and delivery. Many times, we're capitalizing on the excitement of an event--whether it's a game or a win or an announcement--and slow fulfillment would get in the way of that."

Aside from event-related sales tactics, Legends also has three smart ideas for boosting online order volume year-round:

1. T-shirt of the month club

For a membership fee of $25 per month, members of their "T-shirt of the month club" are sent a a new, exclusive t-shirt each month. For fans who don't want to shop but love getting new sports merchandise on a regular basis, they've discovered that this approach works well.

2. Mystery box deals

The element of surprise is captured in the mystery box deal, which includes a different collection of merchandise each month. Not only does this help the brand move slower-moving stock, but it also customers discover new items they may not have otherwise.

3. Online ordering with in-store pickup

For local fans who want to order online ahead of time and pick up their items, adding an in-store pickup option to their online store has been helpful. Staub explained that they've seen this new option drive sales both pre- and post-game for fans who aren't interested in fighting the crowds on game days.

When asked what major recommendation he had for other retailers looking to drive merchandise sales, he said: "You have to be open to some trial and error. Don't be afraid to be bold and take some risks--we've found some of our best products and sales tactics this way."

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