How (AAPN member) Fanatics Scored on LeBron James (and Why It’s Winning in Sports Retail)

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Wow, THIS is some powerful sentence, “That kind of speed to market and manufacturing flexibility, coupled with Fanatics’ growing number of exclusive deals with the professional sports leagues, is the result of years of effort to become a 21st-century retailer: part tech company, part logistics company, part manufacturer“.

Let’s take it apart a little:
21ST CENTURY RETAILER: For many years, we have worked to create the 21st Century Supply Chain across our membership. Every topical issue that moved us forward made it onto our agendas. Our agendas were calls to action. And the actions were cumulative. Today, the supply chain of the Americas can feed the beast with speed.

PART TECH COMPANY: Several years ago, TexOps, an activewear producer in El Salvador, stopped saying they were an apparel factory and started calling themselves an ‘innovation company’. This was because of their massive and ongoing investments in such technologies as design systems, product development staff, lean manufacturing, ink jet sublimation fabric printing and eventually even their own brand.

PART LOGISTICS COMPANY: Logistics is the new marketing. Again, for years we have dissected the literal and actual movement of stuff in this hemisphere. We’ve held special meetings, created break out sessions and studied in factory visits the evolution of market speeds that are today, within our membership, measured in days, not months.

PART MANUFACTURER: All companies compete as supply chains. One reason Fanatics acts like a manufacturer became apparent on our tour of Contempora Fabrics this past April. There we saw an entire room of dozens upon dozens of knitting machines creating greige fabrics exculsively for baskbetball blanks. When the chain is aligned, every link in it produces as one pipeline.

All in all, this is an article about one AAPN member but also one about dozens more members who support them seamlessly………Mike Todaro

How (AAPN member) Fanatics Scored on LeBron James (and Why It’s Winning in Sports Retail)
Fortune, Aug 24, 2018

IN LATE JUNE, as the basketball world waited with bated breath for word of where superstar and free agent LeBron James would play next year, online licensed sports merchandise retailer Fanatics was busy making jerseys. Would the former Cleveland Cavalier choose the Los Angeles Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers?

To Fanatics, it didn’t matter. At its warehouses in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida, the retailer prepared blank jerseys for both teams, ready to be finished with James’s name and number. Once the four-time National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player announced he would become a Laker in a four-year, $154 million contract, Fanatics sprang into action. Within hours, it had new merchandise ready for sale on its own website and on NBA.com, thanks to exclusive licensing and manufacturing rights. As expected, James’s Lakers jersey flew off the digital shelves.

That kind of speed to market and manufacturing flexibility, coupled with Fanatics’ growing number of exclusive deals with the professional sports leagues, is the result of years of effort to become a 21st-century retailer: part tech company, part logistics company, part manufacturer. Fanatics’ founder, owner, and executive chairman, Michael Rubin, calls it “vertical commerce” or “v-commerce.” Whatever the name, it has endeared Fanatics to pro sports leagues, which in turn have rewarded Fanatics with something Amazon doesn’t have: more exclusive rights.

“If you’re selling the same merchandise as what’s available on Alibaba or Amazon, you should quit and go home,” Rubin tells Fortune.

In May, the National Football League gave Fanatics a 10-year exclusive to make and sell NFL clothing for fans starting in 2020. (Nike will handle on-field gear.) “He owns this marketplace,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said of Rubin at a conference last year. As with the superstar James, it’s good to be king: The privately held Fanatics, which is set to rake in $2.3 billion this year, up from $250 million eight years ago, dominates the digital part of a U.S. sports licensed apparel market that research firm IBIS World estimates to be worth $7.8 billion in annual sales and growing 3% a year. Read More

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