Multi-brand success on Target Plus

How Feedonomics helped Sportif and Bearpaw exceed sales projections and expand their direct-to-consumer business

Customer challenges

  • Finding a collaborative listing partner with a trusted integration between Magento and Target Plus
  • Listing Bearpaw’s product catalog on Target Plus before the busy season
  • Expanding Sportif’s direct-to-consumer strategy for its Aventura Clothing line

Feedonomics solutions

  • Leverage Feedonomics’ marketplace specialists to guide onboarding and support for multiple brands
  • Rely on Feedonomics’ marketplace solution to handle data, inventory, and order management at scale
  • Combine data from multiple sources in Feedonomics to meet Target Plus’ requirements

Location: Nevada, United States

Industry: Apparel

Company type: Wholesale manufacturer

Website: sportif.com

Meaningful results

Listed Bearpaw and Aventura products on Target Plus in time for their busy seasons

Tripled Bearpaw’s projected sales on Target Plus over a six-month period

Sold nearly twice the amount of Aventura Clothing on Target Plus compared to their website

BearpawSince 1965, Sportif has made a name for itself designing, manufacturing, and selling apparel for outdoor enthusiasts, like cargo shorts for fishing and GORE-TEX jackets for skiing. Today, Sportif is making forays into the eco-friendly and ethically sourced fabric market—and expanding its customer base—with a new product line, Aventura Clothing.

Rather than sell products to big box stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s, as many wholesale manufacturers do, Sportif works with specialty retailers and mom-and-pop shops uniquely positioned to reach their niche customers. Sportif representatives frequent trade shows and outdoor conferences to make new, beneficial relationships.

Sportif developed one such relationship with Bearpaw, a footwear brand with considerable manufacturing capabilities, but who had a very limited ecommerce presence at the time. The companies agreed to a unique business arrangement where Sportif managed the ecommerce operations for Bearpaw, using its own Magento platform to host products, fulfill orders, and handle customer service and warranty replacements.

Sportif helped Bearpaw build a successful ecommerce model over the years, and in 2020, Target invited Bearpaw to sell products on its marketplace, Target Plus. This was a tremendous opportunity in uncharted territory for both companies.

Mike Youngblood

“Sportif has a wholesale manufacturing pedigree, but this past year we’ve really seen the opportunities—with our Magento [stores] and partnerships with Feedonomics and Target—shift to this marketplace focus.”

Mike Youngblood, Vice President of IT Systems at Sportif

Mike Youngblood, Vice President of IT Systems at Sportif, was entrusted with figuring out how to list Bearpaw’s product catalog on Target Plus in time for the company’s busy season. It was a responsibility he had to juggle while managing other concerns about Sportif’s own business model. The pandemic forced many of the small retailers Sportif worked with to close shop in 2020, so it was becoming clear that a successful direct-to-consumer approach was vital for the future of both businesses.

When Youngblood realized the solution provider Sportif was using didn’t have the expertise or capability to support the transition to Target Plus, he reached out to Feedonomics and found what he was looking for. Feedonomics’ flexible technology and channel expertise enabled Youngblood to get Bearpaw on Target Plus in a timely fashion, opened the door for Sportif’s brands to enter the marketplace, and helped both companies exceed their sales projections during the most important time of the year.

“The thing about 2020 to 2021 is that our business changed like everybody else’s in the world, to become very marketplace-centric,” said Youngblood. “Sportif has a wholesale manufacturing pedigree, but this past year we’ve really seen the opportunities—with our Magento [stores], and partnerships with Feedonomics and Target—shift to this marketplace focus.”

Navigating uncharted territory

When Target first invited Bearpaw into its marketplace, Youngblood’s main challenge was finding a reliable way to list the company’s 5,000 SKU product catalog on Target Plus. He was already using M2E Pro to list products on Amazon, so he contacted his Magento representative to see what the options were for Target Plus. He found that M2E Pro didn’t have a solution for Target Plus, due to the relative newness of the channel.

Youngblood also said that even if M2E Pro had an integration with Target Plus, the solution provider was “not really customer-service oriented” and he couldn’t rely on them as a collaborative partner throughout the process.

“[M2E Pro] basically says, ‘This is what we’ve got, you just need to read these articles and this is how it works,’” Youngblood said. “We needed an integration partner.”

Another key concern was time to market. Youngblood needed a listing partner with the experience to ensure that the integration between Magento and Target Plus was completed efficiently. He couldn’t afford to make mistakes that would prolong the onboarding process, because the busy season was quickly approaching.

“Bearpaw is a fourth-quarter-heavy business,” Youngblood said. “We were given this project in April or May, and had to have it implemented by back-to-school.”

Mike Youngblood

“We were given this project in April or May, and had to have it implemented by back-to-school.”

Mike Youngblood, Vice President of IT Systems at Sportif

Finding the right partner at the right time

Youngblood still wasn’t sure who to trust with catalog listing as the deadline approached, so he reached out to Target directly and asked for a list of partners who worked with the marketplace. As Youngblood went down the list, he contacted ChannelAdvisor and other Feedonomics’ competitors, but he didn’t think they were a good fit for his goals.

“A lot of the other companies wanted to take a percentage of volume, which was intimidating, especially with Bearpaw, considering they have the potential to grow so rapidly,” Youngblood said.

He was looking for a company with big business capabilities, but an approachable, customer-centric service offering. Youngblood didn’t want to be penalized for Bearpaw’s success by getting locked into a contract that forced him to pay a percentage of revenue, and he needed a technology solution that already had a reliable integration between Magento and Target Plus.

“My focus was on who’s going to work best with Target, who’s going to work best with Magento, and who’s somebody that’s going to work best with my team to be able to make it happen,” Youngblood said.

When he called Feedonomics, Youngblood appreciated the “real, down-to-earth” nature of its reps, which fit the type of partner he was looking to work with. Youngblood quickly chose to move forward with Feedonomics and began the transition process onto Target Plus. He had weekly calls with Feedonomics and Target Plus representatives to align on expectations and prepare Bearpaw’s catalog for publishing in what he described as a very collaborative effort.

“I don’t think you could ask for a better service response,” Youngblood said. “Unfortunately the world has gotten so bureaucratic and so disconnected that there are so many layers that you have to go through with people. Feedonomics is a big company but it’s still able to provide that level of personal service.”

During his conversations with both parties, Youngblood realized he didn’t have all the data he needed in his Magento database to publish products on Target Plus right away. It looked like Bearpaw was going to miss the busy season, but some proactive support from Feedonomics kept the project on target. After Youngblood supplied supplemental product data in a Google spreadsheet, Bearpaw’s dedicated marketplace specialist from Feedonomics was able to combine it with the company’s existing Magento product data within the Feedonomics platform.

Mike Youngblood

“The way that Feedonomics helped us get to the point of being able to realize a return on the investment of Target in a really unique and weird year, I mean, that’s just gold.”

Mike Youngblood, Vice President of IT Systems at Sportif

“[Our Feedonomics marketplace specialist] very quickly determined that we, as a company, were not prepared to kind of reengineer the way we put this data into Magento” Youngblood said. “It’s possible, it just wasn’t possible in our time frame. So he kind of cut to the chase and gave us this spreadsheet idea and made it work, and as a result, we delivered it and capitalized. The way that Feedonomics helped us get to the point of being able to realize a return on the investment of Target in a really unique and weird year, I mean, that’s just gold.”

After completing the unique fix, Feedonomics continued optimizing Bearpaw’s product listings— categorizing them correctly, formatting the data to meet marketplace requirements, and making the listings more search relevant with better product titles and defined attributes. Feedonomics also set up Bearpaw’s order management integration and coordinated with Target Plus and Youngblood to make sure test orders were processed correctly by both Magento and the marketplace.

Aventura

An unexpected opportunity

While Youngblood’s initial focus was only on listing Bearpaw’s catalog, the “excellent working relationship” with Feedonomics and Target Plus created an exciting opportunity for more. Youngblood was invited by Target Plus to add Sportif’s Aventura line to the marketplace as well. This came at a critical time for Sportif, because the pandemic was radically disrupting the wholesale manufacturer’s traditional business model.

When COVID spread and people stopped traveling to resorts and outdoor getaways, many of the specialty retailers who stocked Sportif’s products went out of business.

“Our wholesale strategy and our niche strategy was smart for our business,” Youngblood said. “But when the world changed, those [retailers] weren’t coming back. We took a 50% hit on our wholesale sales channel because of it.”

Fortunately, it was easy to set up an additional integration to Target Plus for Aventura’s 9,000-SKU catalog. Not only was it possible to optimize and synchronize multiple product catalogs on Target Plus with Feedonomics, but Youngblood was able to manage orders for both brands in Magento, too. The scalability and flexibility of Feedonomics’ technology meant that Youngblood didn’t need to put Aventura’s growth on the backburner.

“We’re kind of unique in the fact that we’re on Magento, which is a multi-brand platform, and we have multiple brands,” Youngblood said. “And [Feedonomics is] unique in the way it’s structured, you can set up multiple brands based upon a store-level attribute in Magento.”

Aventura

“The sky’s the limit”

By the time the busy season came around, Bearpaw and Aventura’s catalogs were both live on Target Plus, and the returns went far beyond Youngblood’s original expectations.

Youngblood said that they entered the selling season with a tentative sales projection for Bearpaw, but actual sales over that period were “three times this preliminary number.”

Youngblood also noted that Bearpaw sold 130% more in the kid’s boot category on Target Plus than on its own website in the same amount of time.

On the heels of its success with Target Plus, Bearpaw decided to start managing its ecommerce operations in-house and put a larger focus on marketplaces. Feedonomics continues to provide support as a multichannel feed management solution as Bearpaw expands into other marketplaces, including Walmart and Amazon.

Sportif continues to be a strong proponent of Feedonomics after experiencing similar growth with its Aventura line on Target Plus, which proved to be a crucial lifeline for the brand.

“During the fall selling season, our consumer direct business grew 350%, including Target Plus capturing over 50% of the orders right out of the blocks,” Youngblood said.

Aventura’s massive success on Target Plus opened up new avenues for Sportif. The company began developing new products specifically for the marketplace, combining its wholesale manufacturing capabilities with a direct-to-consumer approach that was necessary in the evolving ecommerce landscape.

“We might have had a much more serious time surviving as a company,” Youngblood said, “but now that we are [surviving] and we know that we can, and we’ve got good partners like Feedonomics, I think the sky’s the limit. I think this is going to continue to grow.” Youngblood is now looking to identify additional marketplaces that are a good fit for Aventura, and plans to use Feedonomics to help the business scale efficiently as it develops a multichannel marketplace presence.

“We are confident that our partnership with Feedonomics will allow our small team of dedicated data and marketing managers to grow successfully into these enormous marketplaces,” Youngblood said.

Mike Youngblood

“We are confident that our partnership with Feedonomics will allow our small team of dedicated data and marketing managers to grow successfully into these enormous marketplaces.”

Mike Youngblood, Vice President of IT Systems at Sportif

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