Athletic shoe and gear manufacturer Brooks Sports Inc. is using the Shopatron Inc. e-commerce program to boost sales of its products at retailers – even those that don’t themselves have e-commerce sites. When customers place orders at Brooks` e-commerce site, BrooksRunning.com, Shopatron forwards the orders to retailer partners for fulfillment. One Los Angeles retailer, Phidippides Encino, has tripled the apparel it buys from Brooks wholesale since signing up to participate in Brooks` Shopatron program in 2005.
About 65% of the online orders he fulfills for Brooks through the Shopatron platform are from outside a 250-mile radius of his store, says Charles Hoover, co-owner of Phidippides Encino. Because of the national online presence of BrooksRunning.com, participating in Brooks` Shopatron program gives Phidippides access to customers across the country, though its own site isn`t yet transaction-enabled. “We have done a tremendouse increase in sales of Brooks products. I can bring in a broader range of sizes and colors because I know I can sell some in the store and some online. Without it, I’d restrict my inventory to what I think I can sell in store.”
Hoover adds the arrangement works for Brooks as well. “Basically, they pre-sell the inventory to me and then it’s my responsibility to sell it either in store or through Shopatron,” he says.
When consumers order an item on BrooksRunning.com, it’s posted on the back end to participating retailers such as Phidippides that carry Brooks products. For 24 hours after placement of an online order, the retailers who have the ordered item in their inventory have a chance to “bid” on the order, with the order being awarded to the retailer whose store is closest to the order’s ship-to address. The retailer sends the customer an e-mail saying it will be shipping the order, while offering the option of in-store pickup.
“Anything not picked up by the retailers we then fulfill directly out of our distribution center,” says Matt Minas, web store manager at BrooksRunning.com.
Minas says Brooks didn’t have an e-commerce program before implementing Shopatron in 2005 and that the program allows the manufacturer to participate in e-commerce without competing with its retailer partners for sales. Shopatron handles payment, Minas notes. Customers enter their credit card information when they place an order. Shopatron runs a pre-authorization on the card, and the consumer`s card is charged when a retailer commits to filling the order. Shopatron makes payments twice a month to retailers who fulfill orders.