When we last visited Wrigleyville Sports, the retailer was just wrapping up an exciting holiday season-in fact, amid an economic recession, December 2008 was the sports memorabilia seller's biggest month ever,with year-over-year increases in revenue (5 percent) and the number of orders (16 percent). For 2009, the company is on pace to increase its revenue 10 percent over 2008.
Sales often hinge on hometown teams in Chicago and Pittsburgh, and excitement has been high: The Chicago Cubs topped their division (though they failed-yet again-to make it to the World Series), and Wrigleyville's Pittsburgh arm was buoyed by the Steelers' sixth Super Bowl Championship (in February) and the Penguins third Stanley Cup title (in June).
"We've never once seen any downtime," says David Weiss, Internet marketing manager at Wrigleyville Sports. Even after the Penguins' victory on a Friday night created a spike in orders four times the normal daily volume, Weiss recalls no degradation in site performance. "Our NetSuite-based solutions will handle any load we can generate," he says.
The cloud-based solution also enables employees to operate anywhere, anytime. When the Chicago Bears traded for All-Pro quarterback Jay Cutler on a Thursday afternoon in early April, Weiss says that, by that same night, with all employees working from home, Wrigleyville was first to market with merchandise-a huge advantage in sales. Coming in too late could easily result in 25 percent to 40 percent fewer sales. "We simply couldn't have done this very effectively or efficiently before moving to NetSuite," he says.
As NetSuite has automated manual tasks such as billing and process management,Wrigleyville has since been able to focus on its customer service. The company removed the five employees who used to manually bill orders, converting four to customer service representatives (CSRs) and one to warehouse management. The CSRs now spend the bulk of their time resolving issues via phone and online chat, an initiative enhanced by NetSuite case management software, which tracks open issues and manages every customer interaction-a capability, Weiss says, "we never had before."
With NetSuite,Wrigleyville has been able to avoid wasteful overstocking, reducing its inventory by 25 percent by increasing transparency into its stores and warehouse. Rarely, if ever, will an item be out of stock in the physical stores. "You have a customer right there that wants to buy, you never want to run out," Weiss says. The Web site is updated in real time, allowing Weiss to automatically enable functions that allow for back orders, remove out-of-stock items, or notify the customer of an estimated time of arrival.
All of this behavior includes the in-store inventory. In fact, NetSuite's platform was flexible enough for Weiss to write a script that automatically requests items not in the warehouse, instead of having to personally call each location. "Before NetSuite...we didn't have that real-time view of inventory at the physical locations," Weiss says. Inventory reports used to require at least four hours to deliver, a particular cause for concern during those profitable spike periods. "We have very much more of a ‘just in time' and ‘just enough' supply-chain model now," Weiss says, which results in lower carrying costs and fewer discounts on over-purchases.
With NetSuite's analytics,Weiss has been able to optimize his marketing budget. After focusing on the company's search engine optimization in 2008, he's now found email marketing to be a highly effective channel, consistently responsible for approximately 10 percent of online sales. He has gone from two emails a month to as many as four when event-specific excitement is running high.
"We simply couldn't have done this very effectively or efficiently before moving to NetSuite."
In April,Wrigleyville tried Facebook ads, but found that after just two weeks-at $1,000 per week-the benefits simply weren't there. Funds were pulled and reinvested into pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. A revenue model showing hourly PPC performance helped determine when consumers were most active. In doing so, Weiss says, the company saved 15 percent in PPC costs by spending only during high-conversion periods. Wrigleyville's real test, of course, will be the day the Cubs finally win the World Series-but if the Cubbies stay true to form, that day may never come.
Real Results: Wrigleyville Sports
- Increased revenue by 5 percent and the number of orders by 16 percent from December 2007 to December 2008.
- Shifted four employees from order processing to customer service, while also expanding service channels such as live, online chat.
- Created a single view of its inventory, enabling a 25 percent reduction in inventory kept at any given time.
- Doubled from twice monthly to four times a month the frequency of email marketing, which now brings in 10 percent of sales.
- Saved 15 percent on pay-per-click search engine marketing expenditures after identifying high-conversion periods.