Overcoming the geographical limitations of field sales and increasing Fitsok’s exposure among independent retailers.
Using three simple strategies, Fitsok was able to get 54% of their customer base to place orders online within three months of implementing the Handshake Direct eCommerce platform.
Rather than a disorganized jumble of faxes, emails, phone calls, and Excel spreadsheets, orders now come in via one centralized channel.
Fitsok has been able to quickly and easily process orders, shipping within 24 hours.
Based in Minnesota, Fitsok prides itself on offering their high-end technical running socks at a price point accessible for all. Selling a niche product across a sparsely distributed customer base has proven to be no easy task, however. To overcome the geographical limitations of field sales and increase their exposure among independent retailers, Fitsok decided to use Handshake Direct, a B2B eCommerce platform that allows retailers to place orders 24/7.
Since then, Fitsok has been able to promote a remarkably rapid adoption of the platform by their retailers using a combination of three simple strategies, resulting in faster order processing and more frequent reorders.
According to Fitsok Brand Director Jeff Bull, the company is laser-focused on building and maintaining relationships with independent retailers. “There’s so much potential to grow in specialty retail. That’s why we’re not really focused on big box. We want to build relationships with smaller chains and running stores,” he says.
To reach these stores, Fitsok originally turned to independent reps, but experienced several challenges. As one of many brands that their independent salespeople were representing, Fitsok was not always satisfied with the amount of air time their brand received during sales appointments. Additionally, because their products are sold to main street retailers across the United States, they had difficulty reaching customers in locations farther from major cities. “It’s a lot of windshield time for reps,” says Bull. “In denser urban areas, it makes more sense. But having to cover five states is difficult. In the end, we just weren’t getting enough exposure to retailers.”
In addition to these challenges in the front-end sales process, Fitsok was also facing order processing challenges in the back office. According to Bull, many of Fitsok’s orders were placed via Excel spreadsheets, faxes, or phone calls. With orders coming through these varied channels, processing orders was a cumbersome, disorganized process. “We wanted a uniform way to get orders in, so that we could focus more on customers and less on operations,” says Bull.
After being referred by another footwear brand in his network who had seen great results with Handshake’s online ordering platform, Fitsok turned to Handshake Direct. As a B2B eCommerce platform, Handshake Direct would give their customers the ability to place orders online at their own convenience, and the company could expand their reach while also receiving orders to the back office in one uniform format.
When the company began rolling out the portal to their retailers in July 2015, they had three main strategies to encourage adoption, including the use of Handshake’s customer invitation functionality, email marketing, and a mailer included in all product shipments.
These straightforward methods were highly effective. 54% of Fitsok’s retailers were placing orders on their B2B site within just three months. Bull attributes this success in part to their outreach strategies, but also to the clarity and accessibility of Handshake Direct’s intuitive interface. Since then, Fitsok has been able to process orders fast enough to ship within 24 hours, and they’ve seen a higher reorder frequency from their retailers.