Holiday Gift Guide - Top Gifts for Your Squad →

Chatting with Andrea and Dez - August Product Update

September 18, 2020

jennifer kovats

Join in the conversation with SquadLocker's Andrea Martone, Product Management Director, and Matt Desilet, SquadLocker's Director of Marketing as they chat about the past few weeks of exciting new features, company values, and more.

 

Topics

 

Introductions

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

Hey everyone. My name is Matt Desilet or Dez. I'm a director of marketing here at SquadLocker and we're starting something brand new today. I'm going to have a quick little interview, kind of fireside chat with our director of product, Andrea Martone. I want to talk about some of the stuff that we launched in August of 2020 and what's to come. Should have a few little tidbits in there. We've gotten a ton of great feedback from our customers on things that they wish our product did, and some really innovative ways to push forward for how we can help folks in groups get custom apparel directly to players one-to-one without some of the traditional BS that you'll see with ordering gear.

 

Direct-to-Player Custom Apparel in 5 Days or Less

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

We're going to dive right into it and Andrea, let me ask you my first question here. Sorry, if it sounds like a little bit of an Inside Edition interview, but you're the expert. I'm going to kind of come at you with the hard-hitting questions. First of all, the concept of ordering custom apparel, it's kind of an evolution. I think when we talk about maybe a phase one everyone's dealt with basic bulk, right? I was a high school athlete. I knew that my coach had big boxes all around and we'd all have to sort of meet at the locker room or go to his house and grab stuff. I think it made his life a little bit of a living hell.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

Then there was this sort of innovation in e-commerce, and that was kind of okay, except in a lot of ways, it was just basic bulk with extra steps. Maybe a little bit of a skin and a website. Then SquadLocker comes around and we say, "Hey, what if we could do this direct to the consumer? What if folks in your group could get gear shipped right to their house?" That's awesome, but I hear there's a next step to this. There's a new phase. Do you want to talk to me about what that might be?

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Definitely. You're correct with that, Matt. Over the past couple of years, SquadLocker has really been investing in the direct-to-player route, which means that we can ship from the time it's ordered directly to someone's home and in a commitment to do that in two weeks or less. This August, we've really made a big shift in how we approach this in order to be able to really ship things out the door in five business days or less. We have an express production program that runs and traditionally, this has made up around 15 to 20% of the items in stores are available for this. During August, we've made a huge step forward being able to offer this express production program on 60 to 70% of your favorite items in the store.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

Wait, can I stop you right there? What you're saying is, previous state, we might have 15 to 20% of a store's inventory on-hand. You're telling me that we've upped that to 60 to 70%, so it's there ready in case you need something?

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Exactly. In the past month, we've been able to make a huge investment in the inventory that we keep in our warehouse directly. We went through an exercise to make sure that those were all the favorite things that your consumers love to shop for, and that are selling best from your store to make them available to ship out faster. We're not going to stop there. We have a commitment to get to at least 90% of items available for this express production program by the end of the year.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

That's crazy. This to me, I mean, it sounds like we're taking another step in this evolution of saying SquadLocker was going to have the inventory risk. This was one of the huge things when you think about the start of the company, the impetus of what we're trying to solve. This idea that somebody has to hold the bag. Someone literally has to hold a bag or a box of gear that oftentimes it's fronted by parents or the coach. We're taking a step all the way by the end of the year to 90%, so we're really taking that risk away. That's huge. That's amazing.

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Definitely, and SquadLocker wants to take on this risk for you and for your organization or your school, because it really comes down to our core values around customer satisfaction. We know that what's most important to you is that your parents and teachers and coaches and players are satisfied with their experience when they come to order from SquadLocker. We know from experience that the main point of satisfaction is on how quickly they can get those items that they're shopping for and seeing on the screen. Our commitment around being able to get items out the door in five business days or less is really to make sure that your consumers who are shopping from your store are happy, so that you're happy.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

That's awesome. Yeah. I mean, we've heard this story 100 times. I think one of the classics is, Timmy, sorry to everyone out there named Timmy, like you're the classic name, but Timmy joins the YSO team a little late, or Timmy enters a new school district and he's made the team. He's on the team, but how does Timmy get that jersey? In a bulk ordering system, in the way, way, way past, this is almost impossible. Your duct taping jerseys and that's not cool, but now we're talking about Timmy gets that jersey in less than five days. In most cases, that's crazy. To me, that's unfathomable. I have to ask, where I'm thinking about my past in sports, I've worn a variety of different gear from unnamed to the Holy grails of our Under Armour out there. I mean, is this going to be just on name brands, are we going to like stock some of the high end stuff too?

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Yeah. This is a comprehensive program across all of the brands that we offer. We have items available in this program today from Under Armour, Adidas, Augusta, and we'll be expanding that as we go and continuing to move forward in some of the other brands as well.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

That's amazing. That's incredible. I mean, I think back on my past and this would not have been possible in any of my sports. I'm not exactly a spring chicken, but I I was in high school in the 2000s, so it's not that far off. Yeah. That's crazy.

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

I know. I know, I would have had much more gear in this world if I could get the items quicker.

 

Serving the Under-Served, a Core Value

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

Without a doubt. Cool, so we're going to move on to the next one. It's no secret that SquadLocker started nary heavily focused on sports. I mean the beginning, our origins are about jerseys for sports teams and that's great, but something happened over the life cycle or the lifetime of this company where we learned that we started to see other groups use SquadLocker, and we realized that there are under-served communities within our kind of more traditional school part of our business. We started to realize like maybe there's not a good reason to force people to deal with the kind of school lens when we're talking about custom apparel. Do you have any news on that?

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Yeah, so we've definitely seen a shift. We've seen a demand outside of the sports market for the services and the functionality that SquadLocker can offer. We just talked about the speed at which we can deliver, but a lot of the other functionality around customizable storefronts, the dashboard features, the self-service capabilities for the admins are things that we found people outside of the sports world looking for a solution for as well. One big market that was looking for something like this was the school market in particular. We've seen a shift in our customer base over the past year or so from traditionally more sports to more of a 50/50 model with sports in schools. Our app is now starting to catch up.

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

In August, we made one of the first big steps forward. There used to be a functionality in the dashboard that was formerly called rosters. We've made an update to this recently to call it email lists, just to bring more of that neutral factor into it, to better represent our customer base. In the past, rosters used to have to add a number into the list. It would send out ... It's really used as a notification system. When your store is ready to go, you can load in these emails and these people into the system. We'll do some of the original marketing for you.

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

We'll send an announcement to the people that you load in letting them know that this store is launched, providing them with a coupon to incentivize their purchasing upfront, helping create some excitement around the store. In the past, you had to enter a number in with that process. It was called the roster. It just didn't make sense anymore with the way that our platform is progressing forward. We've made a change to call that email lists. It's easier to upload and manage, and it has all the same functionality around notifying those consumers that the store is ready to go.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

Yeah. I think this also taps into one of the core values of what SquadLocker is. I mean, we're talking about streamlining communication for people. We're talking about taking something that used to be several actions, dozens, maybe 100, and boiling it down to one or two or four clicks. That's such a big thing, and it's such a big time-suck for the people that are in charge of working with these groups. I think to your point, to me, a lot of our conversation today is around evolution. Evolution of product, evolution of thought. The old way was sort of ... I remember this again, I'm going to sound campy, but back to my high school days, you'd see people in the band that would have like a jersey. It's like clearly they have a jersey with a number, because like they're trying to fit this square peg into a round hole.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

It's like, if you want to work with our providers and it's cool, like there is a little bit of positivity around that and a little bit of comradery, but I think what's fair to say is that at the end of the day, we're just trying to go from an unequal to like an equitable and then to a unique process of really just fits any order, any group. I think it's wonderful to see that there is evolution of thought in how we work with people and we look at our customers and we speak to them and we say, "How does this work in the real world for you?" We're not trying to force anybody to necessarily like fit into the sports lens. Then with the functionality that you mentioned, we're taking a lot of ... I kind of look at it like it's a little bit of a B2B cliche, but like you're giving time back. You give people the gift of time in how effectively they can work together.

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

We want that time to be inclusive for everyone, not just for the coaches within the school, but for the teachers and administrators who are running those other groups and clubs, and to make sure that they have the same opportunities to be part of this store, that the school is spinning up or that another organization outside of even a school or youth sports is spinning up. SquadLocker is really committed to that inclusivity, to that feeling of we're all in this together and this platform works for everyone. You'll start to see even more so beyond the email lists, more of that attitude and that mindset start to take shape in our product over the next few months, as we make some strides to make it less sport-specific and more inclusive of all groups.

 

Fundraising with Custom Apparel - New Features

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

That's awesome. Totally being selfish for a minute. In our functions here at SquadLocker, marketing and product, this is one of the projects I'm super excited to work on because it's like this is how we communicate. This is how we present ourselves. We, I think, do a really great job kind of pat on the back, but at least we try to be an inward-out company, not an outward-in company where we get all these inputs from the people that are using it every day. We say, "How can we express what we've learned from folks and multiply that experience to people who are new to us and have never seen this before?" Really, really awesome. Super excited about that. Andrea, I have a tough question for you. Are you ready to talk about something that's not shipped yet? A little bit of a teaser?

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Yes, let's do it.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

Okay. Well, sometimes people get in trouble for this. I'm just going to say, like my head's on the chopping block. Dez is asking you a question about something that's not out yet. I'm putting myself out there, but I want to give people a little bit of a look at something in progress, a little bit more forward into how we're thinking. Fee-free fundraising, say that 10 times fast, has something that's been in our DNA for a while. Sometimes out in the world, if you set up an apparel store and you want to put fundraising in there, some people will charge you. We don't do that for pretty obvious reasons. It's been part of our experience and that's great. We've always gotten feedback around this functionality and I hear that we're getting pretty close to the next step in this part of the product, and I want to know, anything interesting to talk about in fundraising?

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Yes. This one, I'm super excited about, Matt. What we've been working on, we've had a lot of requests from organizations and schools to be able to expand their fundraising options beyond what we offer today. One of the ways that we're going about this is going to be to enable stores to have a specific fundraising collection in them. How this will differ from our traditional fundraising is that today you're able to add a percentage to increase, we call it a markup, a markup to all the prices in your store. That markup, 100% of that markup is contributed back to the organization or the school who can request a payout on behalf of the team or club or whoever's raised the funds. One of the biggest requests that we get is on certain items wanting to be able to go above and beyond that 10% or that 5%.

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

If you have a lower cost item, maybe a 50/50 cotton Poly T-shirt, that's on the less expensive side, you'll be able to actually add a dollar amount above the traditional five to 10%, to the price of that item that will contribute directly towards your fundraising. This gets me really excited because I know there's a lot of organizations and schools out there, especially now, who are looking to add a little extra to the mix, to bring in some funds, to maybe offer some specialty items. This is what we're working on and will be coming out soon is this ability to add these five to eight targeted fundraising items to your storefront to really drum up some excitement around these items, and to raise some money for the programs at an important time.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

That's awesome. I don't want to necessarily lead this too much, but I have a thought on maybe one of the problems this might solve. Tell me how close I am. In the past, you want to set up a store for fundraising and let's say, you're kind of like their loss leader, is like this really high end quarter zip. People are going to buy that and it's super sharp. It's got the broidered logo. The community is excited to buy it. The problem is it's already 60, 70 bucks. If you have a fundraising target, like you don't want to make that item $100. You want to keep it a little bit economical for people. Is this a way to maybe like allow that item to stay in a more affordable range of the small markup, by getting some of those less expensive items in there where you can actually kind of make the money back?

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

That's what we're going for, and those were the requests that we heard directly from the store administrators themselves that they're looking for. That quarter zip could stay in a store at a 5% markup, keeping it affordable, keeping people purchasing it, meanwhile, a pair of shorts or a T-shirt, or maybe a basic sweatshirt could have an additional even like 10 to $15 added to the cost of that.

 

Organizing Custom Apparel in Online Stores with New 'Collections' Feature

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Another nice feature that we rolled out a few months ago now, but that we're planning on combining along with this fundraising push, is a concept of collections in storefront. You would actually even be able to separate these things out into a separate collection, that you can focus and show as your fundraising collection of letting people know that, "Hey, these items are a little more expensive, but a percentage, a higher percentage of these are going to come directly back to the organization or to the school." Allowing you to kind of push people in that direction if they want to buy that quarter zip because they love it. They also want to make sure that they're giving back as a part of it. They could buy the quarter zip for the standard cost and toss in the T-shirt that they know is going to give a little extra back to the program.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

That's awesome. It sounds like the ultimate combination of flexibility and transparency. Because I know that there's always a little bit of ... It can be an uneasy part, asking for money, but everyone kind of knows it's part of the world that we live in. You can be transparent with your community around that. I think that's really huge because I know that there's ... Just thinking back, like here I go again. I've had some feedback from my parents in the past about how expensive some of the fundraising items can be. Then you almost feel like you have to go back to the coach or go back to the organizer and you have this weird back and forth about like, why things possibly cost. It's nice if we can take a little friction away, and that's certainly great. If we can combine this with the collections feature and say, "Let's just call it what it is. Here's where our fundraising section is." Allows you to kind of commit and to your point, without necessarily making some of these more desirable pieces in our store, get astronomically expensive.

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

The next part for the administrators as well, is that these funds will flow directly into their fundraising area of the dashboard, just like any of the other funds. There's no work on their part to kind of separate or track them separately. It will still all function as one feature. The funds will, once the order's placed and shipped, those funds will just become available for payout in the next check that they request through their dashboard.

 

In Closing....

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

That's awesome. Well, this is cool. I think I can probably only press on you for one brand new thing that hasn't happened yet. I probably will get in a little bit of trouble if I ask for three or five more, so we'll cap it there. It's been an awesome August. It's been incredible to watch our Slack channels and see what's shipping and just see folks on our team get excited about the impact to our users and our customers. I'm excited for a big September and a big Q4, but all in the service of listening to our customers and getting new stuff out the door, so yeah. Thank you so much for the time, Andrea. We'll be doing this again. We want to definitely shine a light on the work that we're doing and give people a little bit of insight into what's next, but any closing comments on your end?

Andrea Martone Headshot

Andrea Martone

Just that we've got a lot planned for September. Hopefully, we can get this fireside chat going again at the end of that month in and announce some exciting new features to the team.

Matt Desilet Headshot

Matt Desilet

Cool. Well, then I'm going to have to go beg for more time. I'm going to have to beg for that airtime. Awesome. All right, Andrea. Well, thank you so much. This has been a Matt Desilet, Dez, director of marketing at SquadLocker. Andrea Martone, our director of product, and we'll see you again in September.

 


Ready to jump in?

SquadLocker helps simplify custom team gear, uniforms, and spirit-wear for schools, leagues, companies, & more so you can skip the headaches and fundraise faster.

Get Started
SquadLocker
SquadLocker

More from the Squad Blog

We Tried It: New UA LAX and Baseball Bags

We Tried It: New UA LAX and Baseball Bags

A bag is a bag. You can call it a tote or a backpack or duffel or whatever, but it’s just a sack to carry around your apparel and gear, right?

Read More
NHL On Track for Jan 1 Start

NHL On Track for Jan 1 Start

What would winter be without ice hockey! If your team hasn’t geared up yet for this season -- perhaps waiting to see what might happen with COVID-19 Return to Play guidelines -- now’s the time to...

Read More
Top Holiday Gifts for the Guys

Top Holiday Gifts for the Guys

Yikes! In case you haven’t noticed, the holidays are right around the corner! Is your SquadLocker store all decked out and ready to sell the hottest gifts? Everyone wants to shop your store,...

Read More
Virtual Learning Calls Attention to Student Privacy Laws

Virtual Learning Calls Attention to Student...

With millions of students now relying on online tools for virtual education, we need to be extra diligent in maintaining students’ data privacy, and PTA and PTO leaders play a large role.

Read More
See More Posts