Official apparel is an important part of youth sports leagues, but many of the leagues don’t have the expertise or time to operate an online store to make the apparel widely available.
Stack Sports is betting its acquisition of technology providers Affinity Sports and Blue Sombrero will remove the barriers to setting up and managing web stores selling apparel with official logos and specifications for youth sports leagues. “Our mission is for our technology to empower youth sports leagues,” says Jason Prior, senior product manager for Stack Sports.
Stack acquired Affinity Sports and Blue Sombrero from Dick’s Sporting Goods for a reported $45 million. Affinity Sports, which was acquired by Dick’s in 2016, provides software management applications to youth sports national governing bodies. Blue Sombrero provides websites, registration, and league management tools for youth sports organizations.
Making it ‘simple’ to launch an online store
One way the acquisitions will help Stack Sports achieve its mission will be to make it as simple as possible for sports leagues to set up an online store. The company, which provides its client sports leagues with “headless,” cloud-based ecommerce technology built on the Znode platform from Amla Commerce, has developed a 10- to 20-click process for sports leagues to create an online store. “A lot of leagues want an online store, but don’t have the time or resources to set it up,” says Prior. “Ecommerce grew out of our core mission to help youth sports leagues.”
Once the online store is set up, Stack manages inventory, provides order fulfillment and accepts payment. One advantage of having Stack Sports manage inventory is that sports leagues are not at risk of being stuck with unsold inventory at the end of the season, which can be costly, Prior says. Using Znode, which provides APIs to connect with individual web stores, Stack was able to set up unique ecommerce sites for thousands of client leagues within a six-month period, in time for the spring sports season. As a headless platform, Znode provides an ecommerce transaction engine that is not pre-designed with its own customer-facing front end or its own back-end business operations software or enterprise resource planning system. Instead, it comes with several hundred application programming interfaces, or APIs, that Stack Sports uses to deploy an online storefront for each client league.
Stack’s customers include national governing bodies, youth sports leagues, clubs and associations, including the U.S. Soccer Federation, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and USA Football. Overall, Stack Sports services more than 25,000 sports organizations. “Our core customers are league and [governing] associations,” Prior adds.
As part of the deal, Stack Sports will become the official club and league-management technology for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Conversely, Dick’s will become the sporting goods partner for Stack Sports.
Stack Sports declined to discuss the role Dick’s will play as its official sporting goods partner, such as whether Dick’s will supply apparel for league stores it operates or if Dick’s catalog of products will be available through those online stores.
The companies also plan to collaborate on mobile team management and live scorekeeping through the Dick’s Team Manager and GameChanger technologies.
In addition to providing web store management, Stack Sports offers a suite of cloud-based sports administration, registration, communication and payment management solutions.
Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.
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