WSU Scores Big in Final Four Sales and Services
Becoming spirit wear central
The ninth-seeded Shockers kept the country on the edge of their seats in the spring of 2013 as they advanced to the Final Four with four wins, one over top-seeded Gonzaga and one over second-seeded Ohio State. And in their first Final Four since 1965, they fought hard before succumbing to eventual national champion Louisville Cardinals.
Although their unbelievable run unfortunately came to an end before the championship, the team has remained victorious in the eyes of their fans–several of whom cheered them on from the Wichita State University Bookstore.
"It was a tremendous experience for all of us as a staff, and we couldn't be prouder of our team," explained Andrea Stipp, assistant director. "We were busier than we've ever been and, a week later, I think we were all still recovering."
To keep fans supplied with merchandise for each stage of the tournament, the store worked around the clock for weeks. And, their customers certainly took notice. Sales spiked both online and in-store with orders for merchandise still pouring in even after the competition.
The initiative kicked into high gear when the Shockers reached the Sweet 16, according to Stipp.
Unleashing their secret weapon for eCommerce success
Their real secret weapon, however, was the ability to sell merchandise online. With the help of MBS Systems inSite, their web store was easily updated and able to handle a large amount of traffic.
"A lot of the sports memorabilia stores in Wichita don't have an online presence, so it really gave us an advantage," Stipp explained. "We saw a 1000% increase in online orders compared to our average monthly web sales and still received quite a bit of business after the tournament."
inSite was instrumental in allowing us to fulfill last minute orders to our fans across the country.— Andrea Stipp
inSite's easy management allowed the store to add merchandise to their website ahead of time and simply ‘unhide' it once their team had progressed through another round. In fact, during the Final Four, there was a point in time when shirts were selling out just as fast as the merchandise was revealed.
"We shipped packages to Asia, the Middle East, South Africa; literally all over the world. It was phenomenal," she described. "inSite was critical in helping us gain sales. If we didn't have an online presence, we really would have been behind the eight ball."
Building loyalty beyond basketball season
Beyond sales, the store was also able to extend superior customer service to their students throughout the process, establishing loyalty that will last long after the tournament. For instance, several fans who had headed down to Atlanta for the Final Four game called the store with last minute requests for flags that had been forgotten at home or sweatshirts that they just had to have for the big game.
"inSite was instrumental in allowing us to fulfill last minute orders to our fans who were across the country," she said. "We were able to overnight merchandise to them in time for the game and they were just ecstatic."
Online orders also cut down on in-store traffic, offering an improved shopping experience. "No one likes waiting in a line, so we utilized inSite to offer store pickup to our students," she explained. "They simply ordered and paid for their merchandise online and picked it up in the store. Everyone enjoyed the convenience and the fact that they avoided the hassle of dealing with a crowd."
The store also delivered shirts to their satellite campus locations, to ensure all students had a chance to show off their colorful Wichita State Shocker pride mania. "We know the majority of those students are working adults, and that they may not have time to drive to our store for an order, so we wanted to make sure they didn't miss out," Stipp added. "We saw a huge increase in sales at these locations and they were very appreciative."
Reaching a worldwide audience
Throughout the tournament, the store spread the word about their in-store offerings and their website to thousands and thousands of people. Although the excitement brought with it long hours and extra labor, Wichita State University Bookstore thrived under pressure and scored big points with fans from all around the world.
"I think it will impact our business for a long time to come," Stipp said. "It's sad to see it come to an end, but it was an incredible ride!"
About Wichita State University:
- FTE: 15,000
- Experienced a 1000% increase in online orders compared to average monthly web sales
- Effectively processed and shipped orders worldwide
- Built loyalty with exceptional online and in-store customer service
About MBS Systems inSite:
- Capture Internet sales by providing customers access to inventory 24/7
- Ship worldwide
- Market to customers via multiple channels including mobile-optimized site and an integrated app
- Ensure secure transactions
- Accept campus-specific payment tenders including financial aid and gift cards