Gerry Brewer Team Uniform Orders

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Gerry Brewer: (404) 769-7991

Interview Transcript:

Marty Hartman:
Welcome to our supplier spotlight interview. Today we have Gerry Brewer with Team Uniform Orders. Gerry, glad to have you on the interview.

Gerry Brewer:
Marty, thank you for inviting us. We are honored to actually allow you to give us the chance to talk to you today.

Marty Hartman:
Gerry, you’ve got the attention at least for a little bit of our members. Tell us why should they listen to the rest of this podcast?

Gerry Brewer:
Well, as most members, we’ve probably had a chance to speak to a lot of the members, but we’re an online shopping platform. What we do is make it very easy to actually allow folks that we work with, those that we don’t currently work with but that are looking at, this whole area of online shopping, how people are buying. So I think the interest would be whether specifically TeamUniformOrders.com can help. I think by the end of this discussion, we’ll make a case to say if you’re not looking at online selling and what’s going on in the industry, in the marketplace, you’re missing out. Hopefully, by the end of this 15, 20 minutes we’ll present some things to think around relative to your business and relative to what’s happening in the online world.

Marty Hartman:
Speaking of online world, what are the advantages of having an online store?

Gerry Brewer:
Actually if you don’t mind, I’d like to start by… I’m going to frame the marketplace. There’s a lot of statistics of people spout. We do as well. We do a lot of research, but I’m going to try and paint a picture of this thing called online. The majority of the population’s familiar with the company that begins with an A has a Z in it. Oh, that’s right. Amazon. Amazon.com. It’s amazing that certainly what Amazon has done, and certainly Amazon is instrumental for bringing this whole online shopping experience literally right to our phones. However, Amazon’s not the only player on this marketplace. In very fact, Amazon, while they do have a lion share of what’s bought online, what Amazon has done is kind of change the consumer behavior. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take a minute or two. I’d just like to share some statistics on what’s going on in the online world. I think that will help paint a picture of trend that certainly most people are aware exists, but maybe not in the manner of which the facts kind of dictate.

Gerry Brewer:
I’m going to start by framing this thing we call the online world. We call it the pond, pond in which we’re all kind of fishing. Consider that today, 2019 by the end of this year, there will be 3.5, $3 trillion of goods and services sold online. In the next two to three years, it’s expected to double. Like I said, that’s not all Amazon and we can get into that a little bit later. Team Uniform Orders, we call it TUO or 2O, so I might reference TUO or 2O, throughout this conversation, if for no other reason, it’s difficult to say TeamUniformOrders.com repeatedly. When TUO was started in 2008, at that time, less than 15% of the US population was buying anything online. It was a relatively small market, even back 10 years ago.

Gerry Brewer:
Today, over 76% of the US population shops online within a two or three month period. 25% buy something at least once a month. 16% are buying something online at least once a week. In fact, I read something last week that between male and female, believe it or not, males spend on average almost twice as much online as females, and the average male purchase online is over a thousand dollars.

Marty Hartman:
Wow.

Gerry Brewer:
In other words, it’s a big marketplace. Now, all stores and TUO, we’ll get into this in just a second, all stores are mobile responsive. You can’t be in the online shopping businesses we are, unless everything you do is mobile responsive. That simply means that what works on a desktop, what works on an iPad, must work on a smartphone. In 2018, people buying stuff through a smartphone was $117 billion in the United States and that too is expected to double. In the next two years that’s expected to double. I’ll share a statistic with you. We monitor where our transactions come from. We have pretty sophisticated analytics tools and about a year and a half ago, less than 20% of the purchases through TUO were from a mobile phone. In the last three months, 40% have come from mobile phones.

Gerry Brewer:
Then one final stat, and I’ll make my point and that is, let me ask you a question. I’ll put you on the spot. What do you think is the number one category of products that’s sold online?

Marty Hartman:
I would guess apparel.

Gerry Brewer:
That’s right. So anything related to clothes, sports uniforms, apparel, any kind of uniform and shoes are the number one category of products that are sold online. Wow, that’s sort of convenient for our members, since we’re very big in the apparel. Hopefully, there’s an obvious reason for that. Again, we’ll kind of get into this as we start to go through. I’m going to deliver to the punchline, which is very simple. So Team Uniform Orders, TUO, started in 2008 initially with one reason of mine and that is to make anybody, and it doesn’t matter what category of business you’re in, but pretty much anybody that sees that the online world is where it’s going, our job is to make it extremely easy to allow anybody to tap into that marketplace. We believe that what we offer is a pain free, nontechnical way and a risk freeway to let you test the waters, get your prefer real toe in the waters of the online world. That’s the whole reason that we are in business.

Marty Hartman:
Great. Tell us your background of the company. I believe you started in the soccer world, but are you limited to sports and team sports?

Gerry Brewer:
Good question. Of course by name, TeamUniformOrders.com started out originally in 2008. We did not start the company. That’s a story for another time. The gentleman who started it, there are five gentlemen from IBM. Two of the five actually had extensive soccer background. Through a couple of family friends, they were actually introduced to the largest soccer dealer in the country out in the East Coast. The owner of the soccer company shared a dilemma and that was, imagine trying to outfit hundreds of soccer clubs and soccer clubs can hit 500, a thousand players on them, with new uniforms every year-

Marty Hartman:
Right.

Gerry Brewer:
… the sizes, the color choices, the logo options, et cetera. So this particular dealer had just come off an extremely rough year, a lot of mistakes, a lot of wasted product and was presented, for folks who started Team Uniform Orders, were given the challenge, “Can you think of a better way?” So it’s not quite as simple as I’m making it out, but over the course of six months to a year, the basic infrastructure, what ended up becoming TeamUniformOrders.com was built.

Gerry Brewer:
Team Uniform Orders started solely in the soccer business, 2008, 2009, 2010. Over time, of course they began to recognize that there are certainly extensive opportunities outside of soccer. Over the last four or five, six years, Team Uniform Orders has transitioned from being just a soccer only platform to virtually a platform that works across all sports to, as you pointed out initially in the upfront part, online stores sold to schools. In the last two to three years, we’ve actually diversified extensively outside of sports altogether; corporate apparel, promotional products, uniforms. We have a saying and it’s real simple, “If you can source a picture of a product, if you can take a picture of a product, you can add it into an online store.” At the end of the day, it really matters not what you’re trying to sell online. Our job is to make it easy to set up online stores to do that.

Marty Hartman:
So that’s a good transition to the next question I have. How easy is it to set up these stores?

Gerry Brewer:
Certainly, it’s an advanced system as with any software. One end of the spectrum, let’s take Excel by example. Another statistic, which I’m just full of, so sorry about that, but let’s take Excel. Microsoft did a study a couple of years ago and to no surprise, the average Excel user uses about 7% of the power of the Excel software. Excel’s a very powerful tool. Pretty much all software’s the same. So from one end of the spectrum to the other, with literally 30 minutes of training upfront, you don’t have to have any technical background at all. All you have to know how to do is to open a browser. We can actually show you how to set up a store in 30 minutes or less.

Marty Hartman:
You actually do the handholding with the 30 minutes?

Gerry Brewer:
Absolutely. We set first stores up for free, first five and after the first five, we use each to show. Those are other components to that, which I’ll mention as well. But I don’t care. In fact, probably half the folks we do training session with are barely familiar with things like browsers. We have a joke in which we say, “Hey, if you can reach the button on the lower right of your keyboard that says ‘On’, we’ll help you set up an online the store.”

Marty Hartman:
All right.

Gerry Brewer:
By the way, we’re always looking at ways to simplify and improve. You have to if you’re in the eCommerce business. Now the second part of that is we also maintain product libraries. Let’s break down the mechanics of setting up the store. One of several reasons why it’s easy to set up a store is that we do provide, bring to the table, the products that the majority of our clients sell. Of course they’re selling apparel, they’re selling uniforms, they’re selling shoes, they’re selling cleats, they’re selling anything. First of all, a vendor library with over a million products. A million products are available to anybody who logs into set up a store. It makes it very easy to go search, find and with one click, add products into your store.

Gerry Brewer:
Now that’s not going to be the case for every single product. We will never have every product that’s sold available in our platform. The other way we do that is we’ll build product libraries for you. We work with each dealer to say, “What vendor products do you sell?” It can be promotional products, ink pens. We uploaded a store last week for a new client, which they sell a lot of the custom branded USB thumb drives.

Marty Hartman:
Right.

Gerry Brewer:
We work with each client to say, “Whatever the products you’re going to offer, we’ll help you put them in your product library.” In that way, they’re extremely easy to go search, find and with one click, add into an online store. One of many ways that we attempt to make it very easy and seamless for a user to set up a store.

Marty Hartman:
So you have been working, I know, with a lot of suppliers. In fact, you’ve been working with a lot of our Universal Unilink-

Gerry Brewer:
That’s right.

Marty Hartman:
… adding them on.

Gerry Brewer:
Yes, we have.

Marty Hartman:
Which we are thrilled about.

Gerry Brewer:
Some of the top ones already imported.

Marty Hartman:
Yeah.

Gerry Brewer:
They’ve been terrific to work with. There’s a little bit of complexity there, which we can cover another time, but we work with probably close to 2,000 different vendor companies right now where we have a longstanding relationship. Very frankly, part of that challenge is to work with them to get them to recognize as well that they need to make their products digitally available if you know what I mean.

Marty Hartman:
Right.

Gerry Brewer:
So then I could tell you stories, which I won’t. Some of the top brands in the world that we all know of, you’d be amazed at how they’re not ready for the digitized world. We have to spend a lot of time getting the data formatted correctly, getting the images to a resolution that are acceptable. We do a lot of behind the scenes work with the vendors. Frankly, with the vendor list that you provided to us several, a month and a half to two months ago, we’ve already got many of them in the platform and they’ve been some of the best vendors we’ve had a chance to work with.

Marty Hartman:
Yes, well we have a lot of great vendors.

Gerry Brewer:
You actually do.

Marty Hartman:
Yes. Remember that, guys out there. We like to remind our Universal Unilink members that we do work for them.

Gerry Brewer:
I can give you an address where they can send the check if they want to. My address, make it out to.

Marty Hartman:
How many stores can we create? You mentioned five stores that you’ll help-

Gerry Brewer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty Hartman:
… the newbies. You’ll help them with five stores. What’s the limit?

Gerry Brewer:
So here’s the good news. Not only is there no limit, but our way our pricing model works, the more stories you set up, the more you transact, the lower our rate goes. We’re kind of at the opposite end of the spring. We don’t, not only want you to not limit the stores, but we want you to pretty much put anything online that you can think of. We had a client for the very first time last year, set up over 5,000 online stores.

Marty Hartman:
Wow.

Gerry Brewer:
Could you even imagine having 5,000 online stores?

Marty Hartman:
That’s an incredible… I’m hoping he’s getting a lot of orders.

Gerry Brewer:
Yes, yes. We’ve watched their business, not just because of Team Uniform Orders, but about five years ago this particular client, we had a commitment that the only way they’re going to make their products available was online, which was kind of an unusual, kind of a risky move, perceived risky move back five, six years ago. Now everything they sell is online. 100% of their sales are online. They’re the largest dealer of a particular brand that they distribute in the nation. Whereas, five years ago there were kind of a mid level, certainly a successful business plodding along. Today, they’re the number one distributor of a major well known brand. My challenge to everybody that’s listening in, within a year or two or three, hey, together, let’s get you to get 5,000 online stores.

Marty Hartman:
All right. So with all those stores, how customizable are they? If we have certain brand colors… I’m working with a the chain of stores and they want to add their logo and their brand colors.

Gerry Brewer:
Oh, yeah.

Marty Hartman:
What’s the possibility?

Gerry Brewer:
I’d say 95% of the stores on our platform are custom branded and we’re the only eCommerce platform in this category that gives you dynamic control in what the store looks like. There’s several ways we do that. First of all, we have templates. You can actually choose type of store template you want to set up. You can choose color options. We give you flexibility to match six different colors within any store down to the hex code. So the example there, let’s say you’re working with a large company, it is very fastidious, persnickety about the colors of their brand, you can actually promise back to them, “You give us the hex colors that you want us to match and we’ll set up the store to match each and every single one.” We also give you total font control so you can change font styles in any store.

Gerry Brewer:
Then finally we’re the only platform that lets you do things like embed videos directly in the store. They can be promotional videos, they can be instructional videos. In fact, probably about 15%, 20% of our stores in the last four or five months include videos of some type. By the way, videos are a terrific way to engage the shopper or a terrific way to instruct a particular product or a benefit of a product. We’re the only eCommerce platform in this category that offers that.

Marty Hartman:
Let’s say I’m working with a client and they want to allow their employees to order uniforms through their online store. How do you keep non-employees from getting into the store and buying their uniforms?

Gerry Brewer:
Wow. You’re like handing me softball questions today.

Marty Hartman:
Yeah, I thought I was doing a good job.

Gerry Brewer:
Wow, you’re doing a great job. I’m going to have to send that check that I received back to you.

Gerry Brewer:
Again, we’re the only platform in the industry that actually has what we call, roster driven, sounds like a fancy technical term where it’s real simple. If you can get a list of the people that are going to be allowed to shop at any store, it can be an employee list, it can be a player list from a team, it can be a school organization. If you can get a list of the folks that are going to have access to the store, our software allows that list to be uploaded and the store is then built on top of that list. So several things happen.

Gerry Brewer:
Number one, only those who receive an invite to shop will get the chance to log into the store. So in your example, employee. We just set up a store last week for a client that has 5,500 employees, 10 different locations around the country. So it was real simple. They gave us the employee list, we uploaded, assigned each employee to the right location. Each individual employee got the invitation to actually click on one link, no login, come right into the store.

Marty Hartman:
Wow.

Gerry Brewer:
RIGHT? That’s step one. Step two, since I’m on the point, in this particular example, and our software supports it, if an employee is given an allowance to spend. So the example I just gave you, each employee was given $25 to go in and spend in the store. Our software allows our user to actually set up a balance in that employee’s account and then we monitor it in real time. So then employee clicks, come in and buy, they’ve got $25. They’re aware that they’ve got $25 to spend, they can spend $15 and the next time they click in, they’ll have a $10 balance.

Gerry Brewer:
Alternatively, they can come in, use the $25. If they want to buy more, $50, $75 this stuff, we give them the option to actually do what we call a split payment. So the employee gets what they… They use their $25, but they want to buy $50 more of extra stuff. $25 is taken off their deduction. They whip out their credit card and pay the $50 balance and they’ve completed their order. Again, we’re the only ones that have the capability to do what we call employee level allocation. Now the second part of that, let’s say you don’t have a roster. “I can’t get a roster. People aren’t going to share that with me.” No problem. You set up what we call an open store. In any store or any open store, can be password protected. So that’s the other way that you can safeguard folks from not coming into a store that frankly, are not supposed to be coming into a store and each user assessed at the store controls what that password is.

Marty Hartman:
It sounds like you’ve got your technology down. Can we use your technology to put your stores inside, say our company or organization website?

Gerry Brewer:
In fact, more and more of our clients do that. Now there’s a consideration before I answer, I’ll answer the question right up front. Yes, stores that are set up have a unique URL. URLs, hyperlink can be put anywhere. So it’s pretty common to take and set up a store and link it to a website, but you can also do things like link it to social media. In fact, more and more we’re doing here. Training sessions where we’re showing clients how to actually take the graphics from a store, create an image on it, upload it to Instagram, upload it to Facebook. Facebook frankly, makes it easier than the others to do that. Then you just hyperlink whatever image that you’ve posted in. The hyperlink is your online store.

Gerry Brewer:
We have one client that sells, all the online stores they set up, they set up through their Instagram page. So they don’t market a URL. Any store that they set up, it’s actually to go to my Instagram and then they’ll see what store’s available to them. They’re driving all of their online sales through their Instagram account. So any store, whether it has a unique URL, you can hyperlink it virtually anywhere you want or need to on the worldwide internet web as we say. One more point I’ll add, Team Uniform Orders, when we did get involved with this business, as I mentioned as part of the story, we got involved about four or five years ago initially to consult, eventually to take over and help run it. In a previous life, the folks who came to the table to work Team Uniform Orders did a lot of advanced technology.

Gerry Brewer:
One of the things that we did in our past was we were certified Facebook developers. So we know the Facebook platform very well. Any store that you set up on the TUO platform, with one click, when you’re setting up the story you say, “I’d like to add the Facebook ‘like’ and ‘share’ button to my store.” It appears on the face of the page of the store and when you do that, it automatically includes the Facebook like and share. Anybody who comes to your store where you’ve activated that, with one click, they can click on the like can share button, and they can share your store within their community of friends and followers on their Facebook page.

Marty Hartman:
Wow, great.

Gerry Brewer:
We encourage a lot of our clients that are doing fundraisers, that are actually trying to raise money with their client for a cause, we encourage them not only to turn on the Facebook like and share button, but to actually get the client involved. Tell the client, let’s say it’s a school by example, tell the students to get their friends to go to the store and to share that store within their community of friends and followers. When our client’s client gets behind the idea to raise money like that, it’s amazing how quickly a store can go viral.

Marty Hartman:
That’s great. So you do bring a lot of marketing solutions as well to the table.

Gerry Brewer:
Yes we do. Yes we do.

Marty Hartman:
Great. What about the backend? Once people make all their orders on the store, what happens then?

Gerry Brewer:
The whole reason we’re in business… So there are eCommerce platforms of course, and frankly, there’s a lot of terrific solutions out there. Shopify, I happened to be a big fan of Shopify. It’s a great tool. There are other eCommerce platforms. In fact, eCommerce platforms are the fastest growing part of what we’ll call websites. The difference between an eCommerce platform and a website is an eCommerce platform is it’s a website designed to transact business. So Shopify is certainly one of the bigger ones that most people are aware of. Then you’ve got things like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, they are all terrific platforms.

Gerry Brewer:
The reason Team Uniform Orders exists is that those are what are called broad base platforms. They do a great job of letting you set up a front facing the store. There is no backend to those solutions. Team Uniform Orders, in order for us to be in business, we have a very sophisticated back end. Every a piece of information from every single order that’s placed in the online store is automatically stored in your own custom order management database on the back end and all that order data is available to you to help you run your operation. We do that in a couple of different ways, but simply describe, you have your own central order data management system and with a couple of clicks you can export what we call standard reports.

Gerry Brewer:
It’s data that’s put out or made available to you at different formats to do different things within your operation. I’ll give you one example. Many of our stores, we make it easy to set up personalization, “I’d like to add a name to a Jersey that you’re making available to me. I’d like to put a number on the back. I’d like to have my nickname, my employee ID stitched on the shirt,” right? So that’s a personalization option. We offer up to 15 personalization options for any one item you add in a store. You can imagine that’s a lot of data. So I had 500 people that came into a store. Each one provided a different nickname, a different name, a different number, what have you. All that data is stored individually associated with each order. Then when I go back to do the fulfillment, there’s one report, we call it the personalization report, and it literally formats; these are all the names associated with all the orders, this is the size and color shirt that they wanted that name stitched on. It’s basically your production report.

Marty Hartman:
Right.

Gerry Brewer:
The reason TeamUniformOrders.com or TUO exists is because other broad based eCommerce platforms don’t offer the back end.

Marty Hartman:
That’s great. So what’s the cost? Our members are intrigued now. They want to investigate.

Gerry Brewer:
Well, it’s $10,000… No, I’m just kidding. All right. We have a saying, “We make money only when you make money.”

Marty Hartman:
Okay.

Gerry Brewer:
There are a lot of other eCommerce platforms out there. They’ll charge a large startup fee. They’ll charge you a monthly subscription. In fact, I talked to somebody just yesterday that was moving off of a platform in which they’re paying a lot of money a month. He said, “I don’t set up online stores every month, so why am I having to pay for something that I’m not using?” Our model is very simple and that is, there’s no startup costs. We ask to sign an agreement, not a contract to open an account. If in fact it doesn’t work for you, you’re not out on any money. You just tell us, your account is closed and then when you set up online stores, we take a small commission off of the price of the items you set up in the store. That’s how we make money. Set up a store, I click on that item, it’s 10 bucks.

Gerry Brewer:
We offer our rates at a discount for Universal Unilink members. The way we generate revenue is that every time that product is sold, we’re applying a small commission against the price of the item in that store and that’s it. Therefore, as I said a few minutes ago, the more you transact, the more business you’re doing, the more you’re making and then in turn, the more we’re going to make.

Marty Hartman:
Yes, you do well when they do well. Great.

Gerry Brewer:
That’s exactly right.

Marty Hartman:
If members are interested, what’s the best way to get in touch with TUO?

Gerry Brewer:
We’ll make it actually simple. We have set up some supporting pages which have been distributed by the Universal team. Marty, you did that. We thank you very much. Frankly, to make it easy. Just have them call me direct. I’ll give you my mobile number.

Marty Hartman:
All right.

Gerry Brewer:
Some people are comfortable texting. They can text me at any time. They can call me at any time. We’ll make it simple. My mobile number is (404) 769-7991. Even if you’re not sure, frankly, we do get a lot of phone calls about, “Hey, I’m not sure this is going to work for me.” You know what we’ll promise to do? We’ll tell you what your options are. We’ll tell you if in fact, we’re a good fit. We’ll tell you that, “You know what? For where you’re at right now, what you’re trying to do, you might want to consider this as opposed to TeamUniformOrders.com.” We’ll be very straightforward with you. Simple reason for that is that if it’s not something you’re invested in and believe in, then you’re not going to be successful, we’re not going to be successful.

Marty Hartman:
Absolutely.

Gerry Brewer:
It can start with an informal conversation and again, I’ll repeat the number: (404) 769-7991.

Marty Hartman:
Well, Gerry, thank you very much for your time. Members, I hope you give Gerry a call and investigate this as a great opportunity. Thanks, Gerry.

Gerry Brewer:
I have one final thought if you don’t mind.

Marty Hartman:
Sure.

Gerry Brewer:
I think we’re okay with time?

Marty Hartman:
I think so.

Gerry Brewer:
Those listening, I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how you do it. I don’t care what partner you choose; Shopify, eCommerce, it matters not. But my only advice to everybody listening in is look ahead. Look at what’s going on with online. And no matter what, as soon as possible, get your toe in the water and start attempting to figure out this thing called online ordering. It matters not to us how you do it. It’s important that you do it.

Marty Hartman:
That’s great. You’ve made the bar very low for entry and you’re going to help members do it. So we appreciate that.

Gerry Brewer:
Hopefully, that’s what we do. Well, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you, Marty. Thanks for giving us the chance to do that.

Marty Hartman:
Thanks, Gerry.

Gerry Brewer:
Take care. Bye-bye.