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Do-it-yourself apparel store is sizable project

By Loren Nelson, 09/13/16, 4:00PM CDT

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Rebecca Pennington of Colorado Junior Crew used Registration to create digital marketplace

Rebecca Pennington built an apparel store for Colorado Junior Crew from the foundation up. We aren’t talking brick-and-mortar labor here, although that method might have required less work.

No, Pennington’s project was an all-digital exercise using SportsEngine’s Registration software. Because she lacked a blueprint from which to work (most apparel stores on the SportsEngine platform are set up through third-party vendors such as SquadLocker, a SportsEngine integration partner) there were plenty of starts and stops and do-overs, tons of tweaking and lots of lessons learned.

In the end, Pennington is proud of what she created, even if she isn’t completely satisfied.

“I’m not experienced enough with this,” said Pennington, Colorado Junior Crew’s vice president. “So I might do a few things differently if I was starting over.”

This year, for the first time, the Boulder-based Colorado Junior Crew required its 70 or so members to purchase the official CJC Team Polo shirt. Instead of going through the arduous process of collecting cash payments individually, Pennington wanted the payment process to be done completely online. She had toyed with the idea of creating an online store previously but now had a compelling reason – not to mention a deadline – to complete the project.

All 70 club members purchased their shirts online. Pennington said the typical order was $50 to $75, well over the $21 cost for the polo shirts. “And many people have placed multiple orders,” Pennington said. “So it has been a kick.”

And the reaction from her CJC members? “I had no complaints,” she said. “I’ve been fishing for complaints and comments. People are thrilled.”


HOW IT WORKS:

Typically, all registrations that collect money are built by SportsEngine registration experts. However, in certain cases, administrators and webmasters -- such as Pennington -- can receive special access to build all registrations. Contact your account manager to learn more. Below are some of the basic steps, tricks and tips for building an online store as shared by Pennington:

  1. Gather your photos and other assets
  2. Give each item a unique number
  3. Size option question is dependent on quanity
  4. Totals automatically calculated in shopping cart
  5. How the navigation works

Gather your photos and other assets

Pennington said nothing can stall the online apparel store build more than having to locate, size and load photos separately for each item. So, after determining which items she was going to include in her store, she worked to get photos (her merchandise comes from multiple local vendors) for each item, then made sure they were all cropped and sized the same to create a standardized look. Descriptions of the merchandise and other assets, such as sizing charts, should also be gathered and ready to go before getting the registration build underway. 

Give each item a unique number

In Registration, one of the advanced options in the Question Element is Column Name on Report. This is where you can assign a number for each piece of merchandise (sometimes called an SKU, or Stock Keeping Unit). This way, when the order goes through, whoever is in charge of fulfillment can know immediately what items need to be delivered. 

Size option question is dependent on quantity

When first looking at Pennington's online store, I noticed that there was an option for size, but not quantity of an item. However, after selecting the quantity of an item, the size option then appears -- twice if two pieces of apparel were ordered, three time for three pieces and so on.

Totals automatically calculated in Shopping Cart

After Pennington set up her initial pages for her merchandise she said the rest of the process was mostly a matter of copying previous question blocks. The registration system automatically creates Review, Shopping Cart, Checkout and Receipt pages.

How the navigation works

The registration system wasn't initially set up for how a person might shop in an online store, which is to say that continue button must be selected at the bottom of every page of merchandise before getting to the review, shopping cart and checkout pages. This extra clicking, however, proved to be a "backward benefit" for Pennington, who said shoppers were surprised by the selection of merchandise and said they probably wouldn't have ordered as much if not required to click through each page.  

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About Loren Nelson

Loren Nelson is Community Manager at SportsEngine. He is also the National Media Editor and has served in a variety of other customer facing and media roles since 2009.

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