A new e-commerce platform has been launched to help amateur and community sports clubs generate new income by streamlining the way they sell their own branded merchandise.
Glasgow-based tech start-up Kitvendr aims to empower clubs – and lighten the load placed on the volunteers who run them – by making it easier to sell directly to their own members and supporters.
Kitvendr co-founder Rangi Jericevich is a player and committee member of the city’s GHA Rugby Club and saw first-hand the logistical and financial challenges experienced by clubs that wanted to offer branded apparel.
Clubs signing up to the free-to-use platform receive their own bespoke online shop and product range, from which customers can then directly order hats, scarves, t-shirts and other items of branded clothing.
Rangi said: “Selling merchandise online is not a new idea, but the Kitvendr business model aims to transform the fortunes of the clubs we work with.
“Lots of community sports clubs sell branded club wear to players and supporters, but it can be a logistical nightmare and the process is wholly inefficient. For many, it is typically viewed as a means of kitting out their members and not as an income generator.
“It’s often down to one volunteer to source the supplier, place a bulk order and then spend weeks trying to get payments back in to recoup costs. Alternatively, some clubs will collect payments in advance of placing an order and the customer then has to wait weeks for the product.
“I have been conscious of this issue for some time and just felt that there had to be a better way of doing it. The result was Kitvendr, an e-commerce platform and production facility that enables clubs to retail their products and offer the same level of product quality and service that professional clubs enjoy.
“It removes the need for bulk ordering and bulk production – customers can order as little or as many items as they want – and there is no administration or stock control for the club. We take care of everything.
“All a club needs to do is to promote their online shop within the club and the wider community, and we take care of the rest. Clubs earn a generous commission on every sale, which is pure profit for them.
“Community and amateur sports clubs operate in a challenging financial climate: competition for funding is high and many traditional income streams have become less lucrative. Ground hire, equipment, travel to matches and so on, all cost money.
“Kitvendr aims to be a retail partner to these clubs, helping them to become more financially resilient by generating an income stream from the very first sale which they can then invest in development, coaching and day-to-day operations.
“We are passionate about grassroots sport and building a company with a real social purpose in supporting them.”
Kitvendr currently offers a range of caps, beanie hats, t-shirts and scarves, but aims to expand on this in future. It is entirely up to each club which products it wants to offer its customers, and clubs can be set up on the platform within seven days.
The platform has been trialled by the Commonwealth Crusaders – a rugby sevens team made up of players who played at the Commonwealth Games – and the feedback has been excellent, both on the process of setting up a shop, the management of it and on the quality of the products.
“Although Kitvendr was set up with sports clubs in mind, it can be applied to any type of organisation or group that needs to generate an income stream and raise its profile in the community through branded merchandise,” Rangi added.