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E-retailer ScotteVest’s shoppers win regardless of whether the Cubs do

November 2, 2016 04:00 PM
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A World Series win by the Chicago Cubs will translate into a 30% discount for shoppers at online apparel retailer ScotteVest Inc.’s site. A win by the Cleveland Indians will be worth 20% off.

Though it does not sell baseball or other sports-related apparel, ScotteVest, No. 840 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 1000, is running a World Series-themed promotion starting Thursday because co-founders Laura and Scott Jordan are huge Cubs fans, despite the fact that their company’s headquarters is 1,350 miles west of Chicago. The Chicago team is playing in its first World Series since 1945, and is looking for its first World Series win since 1908, while Cleveland hasn’t won the Series since 1948.

Scottevest’s owners are attempting to appeal to the huge audience watching this year’s World Series. Tuesday night’s Game 6, won by the Cubs 9-3, garnered 23.4 million television viewers, the best ratings for a Game 6 since 1997. On Sunday night, Game 5 beat “Sunday Night Football,” the usual ratings winner.

“If the Cubs win we'll offer a 30% off ‘Cubs Win Sale’ for everything on the site except Outlet items, RFID Travel Vest for Men/Women, Sterling Jacket for Men/Women and the Travel Boxers 2.0,” a ScotteVest spokesman says. “If they lose, we'll do a ‘Wait 'Til Next Year Sale’ for 20% off everything except the items listed above.”

Preparing for the sale, which goes live as soon as the World Series ends Wednesday night, involved creating two separate coupon codes in the retailer’s order management system and e-commerce portal. The retailer had to create several different sets of graphics involving different end dates for the Series because it didn’t know how many games it would take to determine a winner. ScotteVest put the Cubs promotion at the top of its email to customers on Wednesday. “Our sales are very popular with customers, so once the Series is over we anticipate a lot of interest [and] a large spike in business,” the spokesman says.

ScotteVest appears to be the only online retailer offering a sale directly tied to the Cubs’ fortunes. Other retailers are promoting Cubs and Indians postseason gear on their websites, including Fanatics Inc. (No. 38) and Dick’s Sporting Goods (No. 62).

"I grew up and spent most of my adult life in Chicago," ScotteVest's Laura Jordan tells Internet Retailer. "I was a fan of all the city's sports teams (except the White Sox) and one by one saw each team make it to the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup and NBA Finals ... but never the Cubs in the World Series. We started our business in Chicago before we moved it to Ketchum (Idaho) and I told my husband Scott if the Cubs ever made it to the Series, we'd celebrate in every way we could!" 

The ability to tap into popular trends, whether sporting events or politics or some other hot topic, requires retailers to be nimble and respond quickly. For example, Dick’s in February paired with UberRush, the merchandise delivery service of ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc., to sell and quickly deliver official NFL championship T-shirts to online shoppers within two hours after Super Bowl 50 ended. The service was available in several ZIP codes in Chicago and New York City.

The presidential election also has offered some e-retailers, especially those that sell politically themed merchandise, a chance to capitalize on an impassioned electorate and a flood of media attention. Customized gift e-retailer CafePress Inc. in September used a “Voice your choice” message as the first marketing message consumers saw on its home page image carousel. It linked shoppers to its “2016 Election HQ” page where consumers could shop by political party, candidate and merchandise type.

Because CafePress creates goods on demand, printing mugs, T-shirts and bumper stickers as they are ordered, it can easily pounce on a candidate’s most recent messaging or gaffe. For example, within days of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton using the phrase “basket of deplorables” to characterize some of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s supporters, CafePress had about 100 products for sale riffing on that theme. Maheesh Jain, the retailer’s co-founder and chief marketing officer, says sales of political items will account for about 10% of all CafePress sales this year.

Such fast turnarounds contrast with the actions of a sports apparel retailer located across from Wrigley Field in Chicago, where hundreds of thousands of Cubs fans are expected to congregate. Sports World Chicago (No. 993 in the Top 1000) recently stopped taking online orders because the owner says it isn’t equipped to handle such a drastic spike in demand. As of Wednesday afternoon, with Game 7 several hours away, Sports World’s site says it isn’t taking online orders because it’s still getting caught up.

 

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