Buying Soccer Jerseys Locally vs Buying Direct

Is Buying Local the "Right" Choice?

Buying soccer jerseys isn’t easy – even for experienced buyers who have successfully navigated the waters. Some buyers “wrestle” with buying jerseys locally versus buying online or through a catalog. I was on the phone yesterday with a customer and we were discussing the topic, so I thought I would share my thoughts.

I started in the soccer business at a local store, so I understand the challenges. As luck would have it, by being in the right place at the right time, I rose to Vice President of Operations for the largest chain of soccer stores. We had 35 stores. I’ve written training manuals, opened stores and been flown around to events by adidas and Nike. I’m really familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of these companies – where they shine and where they fail.

When I setup Totally Soccer, it was to solve the issues buyers faced. Successfully delivering team uniforms takes extreme concentration and attention to detail. Every order is different and every order is custom. A retail environment, where customers are walking in and out of your store, interrupts the necessary (and timely) work: orders are misplaced with vendors (or not placed at all), paperwork remains half-complete and printing errors occur due to the stop-start. Additionally, relying on third-party vendors like adidas and Nike takes control out of the local store’s hands. In speaking with buyers, this “perceived control” over the supplier is a driving force for buying locally. It doesn’t exist.

We work in an office environment by design. This is a huge advantage. We don’t have people walking into our location trying to buy retail items; we don’t sell retail product by design. The only “wonderful distraction” we have is the phone ringing to answer questions and take orders. This provides for laser focus on the task of delivering soccer uniforms exactly the way you ordered them. Layer on top the ability to ship your product direct from the factory and you have a dynamic 1-2 punch: a focused, team only supplier that provides all the benefits of buying direct from the factory.

Here’s how the comparison breaks down when buying direct from the factory with a Team only supplier:

  • Better Pricing – We are able to keep the process simple and cost-effective. One area where teams benefit is through free personalization of a team logo and player number. You save $7 compared to what other vendors charge.
  • Better Quality for the Price (Value) – Completely focusing on the team market means that you receive better quality for the price. You aren’t paying premiums for adidas and Nike for similar product. After all, we’re all using 100% performance polyester, so you’re getting great stuff.
  • Easier – Never have to leave your desk or house and still have your jerseys by kickoff!
  • More Control – By controlling production, we have the ability we aren’t depending on third-party sources to fulfill our uniform needs. Let’s face it, if adidas or Nike is out of stock, you and your local vendor are out of luck.
  • More Flexibility – We can offer unique opportunities for soccer uniforms: custom colors and sizes from Youth Extra Small to above 2XL when needed. This provides solutions for every team and club out there.
  • Speed of Delivery – placing your order locally takes you on this journey: your local store calls the vendor (maybe not as soon as you place your order), vendor processes order, issues pick, pack and ship orders, product is shipped to local store (delay), local store checks-in product (along with all their other deliveries), in-between phone calls, other orders, managing staff takes the product to a silkscreen printer to print your soccer jerseys (markup on printing drives additional cost), silkscreen printer works the jerseys into their production and prints the jerseys, local vendor makes arrangements to come and pickup jerseys. From there, they heat press the numbers and names on the back of the jerseys. Sometime in the distant future, you pickup your jerseys. Need 1 more? Good luck!
Now, there are some quality local suppliers that are dialed-in, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. Just for fun, you should ask the local supplier if they love filling team orders (you’ll probably be surprised and the grumbling of answers). If you do order locally, plan on managing your local vendor. Call early and often to check-up on the order status: was product available from vendor, was it shipped, has it arrived, where is it in printing and when can you come and pick it up.

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