The Pros and Cons of Team Distribution vs. Dedicated Distribution

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Lately, we have been on a mission to contact all the teams throughout the leagues to discover what their distribution channels are so we can bring you, the collector, the best up to date information regarding team sales and the ability to obtain game worn jerseys (We will elaborate on this mission later this summer).  This mission has uncovered some interesting realizations for us that we wanted to pass along to our readers and generate some discussion on these concepts.

Dedicated Distributors, The Good

When a team outsources their distribution to a dedicated distributor, chances are that those distributors know us and what we want.  They will display the information we want to know, such as sets or the games that the jersey was worn in.  They describe the jerseys wear and repairs.  Most of the time we get to see pictures of the jersey and the wear before we buy.

Centralization.  These distributors cater to us, the collector.  We are already following them on social media and email because we know they have what we will want and we know what they do.  When they have a sale, we know.  When they are taking pre-orders, we know.  They are the centralized location to go for the team(s) they represent, and this is common knowledge.  As a collector, when a team is represented by a distributor, we know exactly where we need to go to get that team’s jersey.

Universal Payment.  These distributors also use every distribution channel available to them.  They accept many methods of payment and ship to all corners of the world provided you pay the shipping.  This allows a collector access to these jerseys no matter their physical location.

Authentication.  Many come with different authentication programs, which comes in the price tag, but as a collector, you can be sure the item you are purchasing is authentic.

Dedicated Distributors, The Bad (Read More) 

Pricing.  The trouble with distributors varies between each company.  Many collectors feel the prices that distributors tend to set for bigger star players is high.  While the prices can increase continuously, its hard to judge what high means.  Sometimes these higher price jerseys sell, while others do not.  When the jerseys don’t sell, they are placed ‘on sale’ and can be had at a cheaper rate.

Power.  Some collectors feel that as distributors get more contracts or a better relationship with a team, they can begin to demand more jerseys to be worn in the season.  As our previous article indicated, as this happens, the prices stay the same while the wear and rarity decreases.

Team Distribution, The Good

Direct from Source.  When teams handle their own game worn jersey program, you can buy with confidence as the item you are purchasing comes directly from the team.  

Sale Style.  The teams also have many different formats in which they sell their stock.  Some have stores, others have auctions.  When a jersey is up for auction, you pay more than the guy next to you is willing to pay, which may be considerably less than what the distribution source wants you to pay.  

Team Distribution, The Bad

Staffing.  More often than not, the staff for a team that will be handling their game worn jersey sales handle multiple duties and do not know much about what the collector wants to know about the jerseys.  Sometimes, it seems as if they don’t care.  You will notice that many teams that sell jerseys themselves do not provide any photos let alone a simple front and back without highlighting wear.  This is a make or break for some collectors.  When these items are listed, the listings can be very generic as well, leaving questions.

Tracking.  With many teams, selling game worn jerseys can be an after thought.  This means that there is no sort of authentication (some may include a letter).  If there are multiple sets, nobody knows which set was used when, unless you really dig into the organization to the equipment manager.

Communication.  When a team lists their jerseys up for sale/auction, how do you find out about it?  Chances are, if you are not a local or big fan of the team, you wont.  These teams rely on Facebook and Twitter to promote their sales.  If you are unfamiliar with how these platforms work, you must follow/like these accounts on that platform to get their updates.  Keep in mind, that many of these social media operators send handfuls of messages a day, drowning out their previous messages if you are not checking CONSTANTLY.  Combine this with the other teams out there that you want to follow, and your probably not reading any messages.

Some of the teams also have separate store accounts.  Most people are not thinking about following the store account of a team, they will simply follow a team.  Keep in mind, the team accounts send messages all day during games with updates, filling up news feeds making social media a very inconvenient source for news about topics we want to hear about.

Right now, it seems they are complacent with only having a reach to fans and not game worn jersey collectors.  Realistically, your every day fan isn’t ready to make the purchase for a game worn jersey when they can have an authentic at less than half the cost.  

Consistency.  You found the link last year for their team sale?  Well, this year they are either selling them in a different manner or at a different page.  

Availability.  Our team only does in person auctions.  You must be present to win.  Sorry.

Solutions

Dedicated Distribution.  Maybe we can suggest a more friendly price structure, or auction style sales to eliminate some of their back stock.  Ask them to try to keep the yearly jersey count down.  For the most part, we feel they are doing a pretty good job.

Team Distribution.  This really varies team to team.  For the most part, we would like to see centralized communication, one of the things we are pushing for in our mission.  Lets see some business savvy people in positions that manage these accounts that will understand, if they put out a tiny bit of extra effort to keep collectors informed, their sales will increase greatly.  Collectors are prepared and have the funding necessary to purchase game worn jerseys.  This should be their primary focus, but you can’t do that purely through social media.  Why?  You wont get all the collectors to follow the 200+ teams in existence and spend all day filtering through the 1,000+ messages daily.

A little effort can go a long way.  Better descriptions in listings.  Track your jerseys.  A quick LOA on letterhead.  Pictures.  These small tweaks might take a couple extra seconds, but not doing them is pure laziness and bad business.

 We wont let any of this put us out.  We will still push for a centralized resource point for all of your game worn needs and wants! 

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