Transitioning from the retail market to the online market can be a difficult endeavor, and no one is more aware of those difficulties than Lane James. The proprietor and owner of OnTheField.com, James has been in the sports jersey business since 1993. In that year, he opened a physical location across from the then-standing Kingdome.
“We had our difficulties with teams going up and down, winning and losing, but once we moved to the Kingdome location, we started seeing growth,” said James. “Then we could turn to making our name a national or worldwide brand. We had wonderful IT people that helped us establish an online presence, and we started selling licensed sportswear through our website.”
Recognizing the inherent importance of a niche market, James made the decision to specialize in sports jerseys related to Major League Baseball, the National Football League, Major League Soccer, and many other sports-related organizations.
“The key factor in our business is customization,” said James. “Just select the specific jersey and tell us the name and number of your favorite player — or yourself — and we’ll ship that jersey to you with this custom information.”
Trying to push his website to the next level, James tried the services of many different internet promoting companies and was less than pleased with the results.
“Much of the money we spent with these promotion companies was wasted,” said James. “It wasn’t until we received some decent information about what needed to be done from the backend of the website that we started seeing results for our money. Companies like iePlexus took us into new realms like blogs and links. They helped my small company look like a big website. I’ve had more success and had a stronger program with iePlexus than with all the other marketing companies.”
Despite the establishment of his marketing blog, www.CustomAuthenticJerseys.com, James is still quick to point out the more complex nature of his online company’s growth and development.
“Our growth has been complicated. It’s definitely a combination of factors such as iePlexus, a good IT promotion person, and promoting the right product,” said James. “I will say, iePlexus is the only expenditure for online marketing other than paying our IT guy and small amounts of Google pay per click.”
“We’re up this year in a down economy, I know that,” continued James. “We’ve had a 17% increase in sales this year, and our traffic is up as well. But we’ve also had our down years. The competition is fierce, especially with big companies jumping in wherever there’s a buck to be made. I credit our success to the management team for their combined efforts.”
After years of making adjustments to the site, James is prepared to continue adapting in an always-changing industry. Looking to the future, though, James is still dedicated to keeping the company rooted in customer service.
“Our ultimate goal is to offer quality customer service—make our customers feel like their hard earned dollars are spent well. We strive for that, and I’ve found that everything else falls into place after that,” said James. “Our goal isn’t to be NFL.com. We are family-run and family-owned, and we just want to treat people how they deserve to be treated.”