A baller move by Spikeball sees its switch from DTC to wholesale pay off big
Having the right system in place is essential to supporting a switch from wholesale to DTC - or even the reverse, as Spikeball found.
Players in the US
US retailers sell Spikeball
Leading the spike in roundnet
Spikeball is a leading manufacturer, distributor and online retailer focused on introducing more people to the sport of roundnet along with building a community around the next great American sport.
Described as a cross between volleyball and foursquare, roundnet is played by two teams of two players with the goal of getting the ball onto the centrally placed Spikeball net. There are no sides and no boundaries, just the aim of returning the ball off of the net in no more than three hits per team. Spikeball now has over 350,000 players in the US and more than 1,000 nationally ranked teams taking place in tournaments.
Making a retail splash
Spikeball began trading with a solely direct-to-consumer (DTC) model via their Shopify store. In less than two years, sales had spiked which was only increased further by their opening of a new channel, Amazon.
Spikeball then set their sights on the wholesale market too. “After our appearance on the show Shark Tank, we quickly became a major player in the sporting goods industry,” says Derek Riechers, Global Demand Planner at Spikeball.
“That got us thinking about a move to wholesale; we started thinking about the retailers we wanted to associate ourselves with, and who might give us fantastic exposure.” That question was answered when Spikeball scored a relationship with Dick’s Sporting Goods.
But, as the company began to grow rapidly due to its retail success, it understood that with multiple channels to stay on top of, a traditional combination of spreadsheets and manual administration just wasn't going to make the grade anymore.
It was important for the business to find a retail-focused ERP platform that would help them to optimize inventory management, increase efficiency and streamline orders across all its channels. Only by doing this could Spikeball ensure a fast and frictionless service delivery to its broad customer base.
Derek explains: “Spikeball had leveled up, and now we knew we needed to upgrade our operations. We had to get a better control over what was happening across the entire business, particularly with the addition of new channels. It was vital that any new system would support our existing DTC business, but also our move into wholesale. We needed that single vision.”
Next on Spikeball’s priority list was a system that would support their move from DTC to wholesale, while optimizing staffing. Derek says: “We are a small but efficient team here at Spikeball, and though we wanted to grow the business, it was important to us that any system we employed would help us to remain lean on the resource front.”
“Brightpearl helped us to achieve that - a normal company in terms of our size, revenue, and volume, would most likely have two to three times the staff we have, while we’ve been able to service a new channel and to do it with the same size team. We use Brightpearl’s automation functionality to reduce the amount that human touch is needed. It’s about doing more with less.”
A baller move
In 2014, Spikeball went live with Brightpearl; the same year the company launched its wholesale channel. Spikeball also found that its new channel needed a whole new infrastructure.
Derek explains: “We opened a portal on our Shopify store for our retail customers to order through. It’s great because the orders go straight through into Brightpearl, just like they do for spikeball.com and Amazon. We’ve got it set up so they route automatically on to our warehouse.”
Spikeball quickly learned though that selling direct to consumers and to retailers is an entirely different ball game.
“With DTC and wholesale, you’re dealing with customers that have very different fulfillment requirements and expectations,” says Derek. “So, the ability to connect multiple channels and streamline orders becomes crucial.”
“Brightpearl also provides the real-time data insight we need to feed inventory and forecasting decisions, which are critical elements for demand planning in a multichannel business like Spikeball. Those real-time reports allow us to see sales by channel, by customer, on a daily basis, and all from one centralized location.”
“Having all our channels in one place is vital and the platform provides the data that helps us steer the ship, react quickly to changes, and make informed decisions. For example, through Brightpearl’s reporting, we noticed a decline in our web orders so we heavily invested in improving our UX, making it more user-friendly and a real experience for the customer. It’s that kind of insight that’s so important. Honestly, I would not be able to do my job nearly as successfully without Brightpearl.”
A fast and frictionless future
The customer experience is a real area of focus for Spikeball. “We’re constantly looking at the entire journey our wholesale and DTC customers go on and are trying to make it as seamless, frictionless - and automated as possible,” Derek tells us.
And what’s next for Spikeball? “We want everybody in the world to know of Spikeball,” says Derek. “Brightpearl gives us the platform to grow at the rate we want to. The ability to scale and penetrate additional markets and channels makes the system very valuable to us on our journey to one day make roundnet an Olympic sport.”