A five-minute segment on the TV show “Good Morning America” resulted in about 16 times the typical number of orders for web-only sock retailer Bombas.
Bombas typically handles 1,500 to 2,000 orders a day, but that number spiked to 26,000 on Oct. 5, the day of the morning show segment, says Drew Morrison, operations manager at Bombas.
Bombas generated $17 million in online sales in 2016, which was a 400% increase over 2015, Morrison says. In the “Good Morning America” segment, co-founder David Heath says Bombas projects $50 million in online sales for 2017.
Having a few weeks’ notice before appearing on the show helped Bombas prepare for the surge in orders.
During the episode, “Good Morning America” featured five retailers that have a “give-back” component to their business model. Bombas donates one pair of socks for each pair purchased to shelters, nonprofits, and organizations dedicated to helping the homeless, in-need and at-risk communities. To date, Bombas says it has donated more than 4 million pairs of socks. On Oct. 5, the retailers featured on the the show had select products available for sale on the Good Morning America-hosted page, “GMA Deals.” As part of its deals program, GMA receives a cut of merchants’ sales on its site, says Morrison without revealing specifics.
In preparing for the TV segment, Bombas decided to feature a large selection—100 products—from its roughly 800 SKUs, Morrison says. The idea was to generate sales across an array of products so no particular SKU would be depleted, she says.
“Having the sale shortly before November and December, when there will be a lot of Black Friday and holiday shopping, was interesting,” Morrison says. “You want to sell everything and encourage people to come back over the holidays, but you don’t want to sell down and have nothing to sell during the holidays.”
Plus, a lot of the retailer’s socks are sold in packs of four, such as a pack of athletic socks or a pack of dress socks. So if a certain sock style sells out and it also is sold in a multipack, that could negatively impact holiday sales, she says.
To fulfill orders received on the GMA Deals site, Bombas centralized SKUs in its warehouse to minimize how far employees would have to walk to pick the order and put it on the conveyer belt, Morrison says. Each SKU has a storage location and a pick location in the warehouse. Bombas increased the number of socks in the pick location to avoid a wait as products were moved from storage. For example, if there typically are 100 units of socks in the pick location, Bombas may have increased this to 500 in anticipation of high order volume, she says.
Bombas added a second warehouse staffing shift on the day of the “Good Morning America” segment, while also requiring warehouse staff to work two days over that weekend instead of just one.
The retailer also stocked up on its plastic poly-bag packaging and education card inserts to prepare for the order surge. “The last thing you want is for the warehouse to call you saying they don’t have enough packaging,” Morrison says.
Because “Good Morning America” hosted the e-commerce site where consumers placed orders, Bombas did not have to worry about traffic overload and website performance issues with its own e-commerce site, Morrison says.
This is the second time “Good Morning America” has featured Bombas. The retailer learned from the previous segment to add a unique code to a customer’s order number to indicate the order originates from the show. That enables Bombas customer service agents to easily find an order if a shopper needs help, she says.
The retailer anticipated a spike of 15,000 to 20,000 orders on Oct. 5, but Bombas’ preparations were enough to cover the nearly 25,000 orders that flooded in, Morrison says.
“It was a dress rehearsal for us before Black Friday,” she says. “26,000 orders in one day is a number we don’t see often, so it’s good for the warehouse to go through the motions.”
In 2016, during the five-day period of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday (Nov. 24-28), Bombas had roughly 10,000 orders per day. This year the retailer says it expects anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 orders per day.
In addition to the GMA Deals sales on Oct. 5, the retailer had to pay attention to sales via Bombas.com and prioritize those orders if a shopper paid for priority (overnight) shipping, Morrison says.
In the week following the “Good Morning America” surge, the retailer’s merchandising team reviewed sales records to make sure it manufactured enough of the popular SKUs to prepare for holiday sales, Morrison says.
For the holiday season, Bombas’ one New Jersey warehouse has new voice-picking technology that its third-party logistic provider Amware Fulfillment LLC integrated.
Warehouse pickers now wear headsets and an automated message tells the picker which SKUs they have to pick for each order, and they no longer have to look at a sheet of paper. Amware financed the new technology. The audio picking is supposed to increase efficiency and decrease the number of staff needed in the warehouse, Morrison says.
Because the technology just rolled out last week, Morrison says warehouse staffing levels have not been set.