A common challenge for media brands that also sell products online is keeping up with demand when popular items go up for sale.
Ecommerce product sales require a lot of attention, from product sourcing to warehousing to fulfilling and shipping orders. Many such companies don't have large teams available to pivot to ecommerce when times are busy.
Alan Suen is a Senior Ecommerce Manager at Barstool Sports, a popular blog, podcast producer, and digital media company creating sports and pop culture content. The company branches out into products, events, and collaborations that resonate with its audience.
One of the unique things about Barstool Sports is that they're very open to trying new ideas. They've branched into all sorts of interests within their content without limiting it to sports. The team has some freedom to brainstorm ideas and try them to see what sticks.
Alan describes why they turned to dropshipping and how working with Mothership has helped:
When Alan first joined Barstool Sports around four years ago, he describes how the merchandise side of the business wasn’t operating as effectively as they’d like. “One thing we experienced a lot was purchasing items, then having them sit on a shelf and go stale,” he recalls.
“Dead stock” is a relatively common issue in the ecommerce world. For retailers like Barstool Sports, it means they end up with products sitting on a warehouse shelf that they can’t find a way to sell. Meanwhile, the company loses money by having inventory that doesn’t sell and paying for warehousing space.
These issues with inventory management prompted them to look to dropshipping as a solution. “We can rely on suppliers to help us fulfill orders and don’t have to take on inventory,” says Alan.
Barstool Sports found Mothership after looking into solutions for dropshipping. “We reached out to Mothership, got Aaron as our rep, and since then it’s been great. He’s been able to help us with every step along the way,” Alan says.
Alan admits they were a little apprehensive at first, “just iffy on like, how this would affect customers or, and how it would affect us in the long run,” he says. However, they were pleased to find that the process was smooth for Barstool Sports and their customers.
“Everything is good,” says Alan. “We're not seeing any issues. We're not seeing customer complaints. Orders are seamlessly going from one store to the next. Our orders are getting fulfilled, shipped, and all that.”
One advantage of working with Mothership has been connecting Barstool Sports with different brands. They’ve been able to enter new partnerships and quickly set up an efficient operation via Mothership.
“I’ve had other dropship apps that I’ve used before, but I don’t think any of them are as simple as Mothership in terms of ease of understanding,” Alan says.
Alan has found support always available when he needs it, including for Barstool Sports' suppliers. Mothership is happy to step in and let suppliers know what they need on their end. "Mothership has that visual of the supplier and what they're seeing, which just cuts time down and makes the process so easy," he says. They also have great support pages and FAQs, making self-service easy when needed.
“The best value for me personally is the amount of time and effort we need to put into managing orders. Mothership - you plug it in, you connect the stores, and it’s mostly hands-off.”
Barstool Sports has a broad, worldwide audience. Alan describes that this means their product launches can be huge. They often plan “product drops,” where they collaborate with suppliers to launch a unique product they have promoted as available from a certain date and time. Sometimes they’ll launch a new item to so much demand that they can’t keep up with orders.
“A prime example is we have a brand called KFC Radio, a very popular brand,” says Alan. “We just launched a pair of shoes for their brand through one of our suppliers called Nothing New.” This pair of shoes would go on to sell out very quickly. As Alan describes it, product drops can go online at 10 am and sell out by 10:01 am.
“One of the situations that Mothership was very helpful with was when we wanted to sell a product from a particular supplier but do it in real-time. With the pace the orders were coming in, Shopify wasn’t deducting inventory in real-time fast enough to keep up with orders. Mothership helped on the back end, disconnecting inventory syncs and moving to manual allocation. We could allocate inventory to specific orders and not over-sell,” says Alan.
This ability is hugely important for maintaining a positive customer experience.“Our customers are satisfied with their orders and not running into any trouble,” he says.
Dropshipping has also been an excellent strategy for helping the Barstool Sports team maintain a high level of customer service. In terms of order fulfillment, Alan says that on those fast-paced product drops, the team at Barstool Sports would struggle to keep up with managing orders. “Mothership makes those connections, so orders go straight to the retailers, and they can fulfill those orders without us doing a thing,” says Alan. “That’s great for us, but also the customer because they’re getting their products when they expect them,” he says.
“Our team has saved so much time - we don’t have to allocate someone to manage orders,” Alan says, suggesting they can focus on other parts of the business that are also important for their success. “It’s a huge time saver, and while it’s cliche to say, time is money.”
Moving forward, Alan sees endless opportunities to keep working with Mothership and setting up more dropshipping partners. “Mothership has been great to us, and this relationship we’ve had couldn’t be better,” he says.
Barstool Sports is already looking forward to a booming Q4 and revitalizing some of its brands through dropshipping opportunities into next year. “I think going down the road, I think with all the new projects that we have incoming, I think we can really take advantage of Mothership and drop shipping, and really, really do some great things,” Alan says.
The bottom line? In fast-paced ecommerce companies, dropshipping can make a huge difference in terms of the resources you need to commit to managing orders and the investment you need to make in inventory. Companies like Barstool Sports can maintain the excitement of exclusive product drops without compromising their customers’ experience.