When four sports enthusiasts started PlayerLayer, they had no idea how much the company would grow. In just six years, PlayerLayer has become the leader in customised team sportswear in the UK, and is now expanding into new territories and new markets.”
Salesforce has been there every step of the way throughout the company’s evolution. “Our journey has been epic and unexpected, but there’s still a long way to go,” said Joe Middleton, CEO at PlayerLayer. “Salesforce has been part and parcel of our success from day one."
Since 2013, sales have grown an average of 36% per year. In the same period, PlayerLayer’s team has grown from less than 20 employees to more than 50.
The company supplies many of the top British universities, including St Andrews, Edinburgh, Durham, Nottingham, Bristol, and Exeter, as well more than half of the country’s top 100 private schools. Although PlayerLayer started out as a specialist in baselayer clothing, the company now provides more than 900 products across 70 sports, including football, rugby, cricket, and cycling.
“Our growth has been entirely driven by customer demand,” explained Middleton. “Salesforce has made it easier for us to scale our business, helping us keep track of a growing number of customers and their needs.” ”
They have also begun sales operations in China, Australia and New Zealand, where they have deployed Salesforce from day one.
The inside track
Details about every one of these 200,000-plus customers are stored in Sales Cloud. “We don’t just capture names and addresses, but customers’ favourite colours and sports,” said Middleton. “We couldn’t build such detailed profiles without Sales Cloud.”
This data helps to drive PlayerLayer’s marketing and sales strategies. With no budget for television or print ads, the company relies on digital channels to raise brand awareness. “When you get your digital marketing right, you don’t need a multi-million pound advertising budget; you just need good ideas,” Middleton affirmed.”
To target its campaigns, PlayerLayer needs to approach customers differently. “We don’t want to send the same marketing email to a 17-year old boy at boarding school, his older sister at university, and their parents – that wouldn’t be effective,” explained Middleton. “With Sales Cloud, we can segment our customers and can send tailored emails focused on the sports and products that they are likely to be interested in.”
“Because we have so many customers from the premium education market, we have a very affluent and valuable database. They are also a discerning group, so we aim for quality, not quantity of mail-outs,” said Middleton. “With Salesforce, we can be selective and targeted, which produces conversion rates well above the industry norms around 2%. In peak periods, we receive more than 300 orders per day.”
With the entire pipeline captured and tracked in Sales Cloud, the sales and management teams can view at a glance when contract renewals are coming up. “With advance warning of when contracts are due to end, we can forecast sales more accurately,” explained Middleton.
Pipeline and customer information can be accessed remotely via the Salesforce Mobile App along with Chatter, an online employee community. “Chatter has been a game changer,” said Middleton. “It helps sales reps in different parts of the country connect, which leads to greater efficiency.”
The customer service team also benefits from Salesforce solutions, using Service Cloud to track and respond promptly to more than 1,000 customer inquiries per week at peak times. “With Service Cloud, the team can view all recent interactions and sales with that particular customer in order to provide accurate and helpful information,” added Middleton.
Playing to win
As the company continues to expand into new geographies, being able to respond quickly to customer queries and new sales leads will be key. PlayerLayer has already launched in China, Belgium, and Holland, and now has the rest of Europe in its sights.
“It’s vital that we can customise the business for local markets without compromising our global position,” explained Middleton. “Salesforce helps us take a ‘cookie cutter’ approach, giving implicit control over operational processes without us having to micro-manage our overseas partners.”
As it enters the consumer market, PlayerLayer will be drawing on Salesforce’s agility to help it deliver the same high service levels to a much larger customer base and scale its marketing efforts.
“Only 10% of the sportswear market is customised B2B for clubs, schools, and universities, while 90% is selling to the consumer. We want to tap into that market,” explained Middleton. “We’ve stepped up our ambitions for the future, and we know that Salesforce can step up with us. It provides the agility we need to keep evolving and growing our business to maximise new opportunities.”