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The sports and fitness industry has seen a spike in online sales as people shift gears to an at-home fitness routine or looking for ways to fit health and wellness into their busy lives. Selling sports and fitness products is a great industry to launch into, but it can be a challenge to stay competitive.
What is sports and fitness fulfillment?
Sports and fitness fulfillment is the process of filling orders for fitness-related items. This includes fulfilling orders for vitamins and supplements, gym gear, workout apparel, and more. The entire order fulfillment process starts with receiving and storing inventory to shipping orders safely and efficiently.
Many sports and fitness brands partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) so they can focus their time and energy on growing their business and building customer relationships, rather than packing and shipping orders.
Athletic equipment fulfillment
From helmets to baseball bats, to tennis balls to yoga mats — ShipBob offers athletic equipment fulfillment for fast-growing online brands. With ShipBob, you can easily expand your customer reach and offer affordable shipping for your entire athletic equipment line.
How ShipBob grows sports and fitness ecommerce sales
ShipBob is an international, tech-enabled 3PL that helps sports and fitness ecommerce brands get products into their customers’ hands faster and at the most affordable cost through distributed inventory, a method that allows you to split inventory across multiple fulfillment centers.
This method helps to reduce shipping costs and last-mile delivery times. ShipBob also negotiates shipping rates with major shipping carriers. That way, you can offer 2-day shipping via ground to increase average order value (AOV), reduce cart abandonment, and improve customer loyalty.
“Customers get accustomed to a certain shipping service level at a low price — often free — and want it faster over time. Ever since we started our partnership with ShipBob in the summer of 2018, they’ve been able to deliver the customer service level we need at the right cost.”
Michael Peters, Vice President of TB12
Challenges of sports and fitness fulfillment
Sport and fitness ecommerce brands have to overcome several challenges if they want to stay competitive, from increasing brand awareness to shipping orders.
Increasing brand awareness
With so many popular sports and fitness brands out there, it’s important to stake your claim in the market. This can be accomplished by creating a strong image of your brand. Generating brand awareness can be difficult though, especially if you partner with a third party that solely uses their own packaging for shipments, rather than allowing you to use branded boxes.
Nowadays, consumers will expect their gym bags, yoga mats, and exercise balls to arrive soon after the order is placed. To keep up with the competition, you have to provide quick and efficient deliveries. This is a challenge if you’re only storing inventory close to home but have orders coming in across the United States and even internationally.
A win-win in customer experience
Valuable sports and fitness goods like inversion tables and activity trackers must be packed and delivered with proper care. This involves wrapping equipment in the best-sized box for optimal dimensional weight and secure packaging to reduce shipping costs and prevent shipping damages.
ShipBob’s order fulfillment process and benefits
ShipBob takes care of the entire order fulfillment process for you and offers the following benefits for your ecommerce business.
Centralized logistics and order data
ShipBob’s software acts as a true back-end logistics hub and is easy to integrate into your ecommerce platform(s), allowing you to access inventory details from a central dashboard. From here, you can manage inventory, and view analytics, order status, and inventory levels in real-time.
The ability to create a memorable unboxing experience
ShipBob lets you use custom packaging or mailers to represent your business. When customers receive their orders, unpacking their sports and fitness equipment will be an experience to remember as it can be covered with your logos or plain packaging — and never ours. This helps to create a memorable unboxing experience that keeps customers coming back for more.
Streamlined operations with accurate picking and packing
Sports and fitness brands can quickly become overwhelmed with a high volume of orders. If the wrong items are packed or orders are sent to the wrong address, returns increase and customers complain. If you outsource fulfillment to ShipBob, our skilled workforce will handle the fulfillment process for you.
Our team is experienced in picking, packing, receiving, kitting, and other services, and we use advanced technology in our warehouses to reduce human error and increase efficiencies.
Access to invaluable data and reporting
In an effort to provide you with visibility and to hold ourselves accountable, ShipBob provides transparency with access to fulfillment performance compared to our SLA commitments. We provide many operational KPIs to give you an overview of the numbers you care about the most.
Using ShipBob’s free analytics and reporting tool, you can access how much inventory you currently have on hand at each ShipBob fulfillment center, how you should distribute your inventory across ShipBob’s fulfillment network to save the most money and reduce shipping costs, show what your shipping costs would be if you went from one fulfillment center to two or three.
How ShipBob works
Our team takes the order fulfillment process off your hands and manages it for you. Once you sync your online store with our dashboard, you can ship inventory to one or more of our fulfillment centers. Once orders are placed, they are automatically sent to ShipBob to be picked, packed, and shipped.
You can monitor everything we’re doing from a central dashboard, view order status, and manage inventory and reorder more inventory (and even set automatic reorder points) to prevent stockouts. While we manage the sports and fitness fulfillment for you, your business can focus more time growth and attracting more customers.
How ShipBob has helped sports and fitness companies
With 25,000 DTC and B2B shipments per month, baseball gear brand BRUCE BOLT knew they needed a fulfillment partner that could not only handle their volume but offer premier support and scalable solutions.
“We weren’t looking for the cheapest option, we were looking for the partner that was going to help us scale and would give us a white-glove customer experience because we knew we needed it. Not being able to get in touch with someone when a pro player needed gloves overnighted just wasn’t an option for us. ShipBob has been able to provide that for us.”Courtney Trevino, VP of Finance & Ops at BRUCE BOLT
Roundnet game Spikeball adopted a hybrid fulfillment solution to better serve their customers around the globe. Spikeball operates their own facility in Illinois using ShipBob’s warehouse management system (WMS), while using ShipBob’s Canadian and European fulfillment centers to reach their international customers.
“It turns out that ShipBob’s WMS was exactly what we needed. The beautiful thing about it is everything was connected. I could log on to our ShipBob account and see everything in one place, no matter if I’m looking at our facility in Kankakee, IL, or the ShipBob fulfillment centers in Canada or Europe. It was all the same system. I didn’t have to learn various different platforms or deal with support representatives at different companies.”Adam LaGesse, Global Warehousing Director at Spikeball
As a result, Spikeball saves $400,000 on shipping costs annually and has achieved 80% faster packing efficiency.
Tom Brady’s fitness brand, TB12, sells supplements, apparel, exercise equipment, protein powders, and much more. Whether you’re a professional athlete or simply want to stay active, TB12 is centered around a holistic philosophy for health and wellness by using workouts and nutrition to help you do what you love, longer.
When TB12’s old fulfillment partner wasn’t cutting it, the company sought out a new 3PL. They have now been partners with ShipBob for over a year and a half, and have enjoyed 25% cost savings.
“We experienced 4x our normal volume this past December, which was our second holiday season with ShipBob.”Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12
FLEO creates strength training apparel for CrossFitters, weightlifters, powerlifters, and other fierce women who are every bit as fun-loving as they are iron-willed, and whose training is purposeful, structured, and committed. Since partnering with ShipBob, FLEO has enjoyed thirty-percent growth year over year.
“Before ShipBob, we used a fulfillment center that frankly couldn’t scale with us. Since moving to ShipBob we’ve grown 30% year over year, which is a testament to their scalability, service, and technology. I feel really fortunate to have found ShipBob when we did.”Carl Protsch, Co-Founder of FLEO
EnduroSport provides pre-activity supplements that are stimulant-free, NSF Certified for Sport, and formulated with high-quality patented ingredients. Their mission is to bridge the gap between athletic and outdoor communities by bringing together men and women from diverse cultures and sports around the world into one family.
EnduroSport found the right fulfillment partner in ShipBob and uses three of our fulfillment center locations for sports and fitness fulfillment. The sports brand’s co-founder, Tim Fink, says:
“From day one, I felt like ShipBob was a partner on our team. With other 3PLs, it never felt like a partnership. I could trust that ShipBob would help us launch our company successfully.”Tim Fink, Co-Founder of EnduroSport