Shively Sporting Goods builds the perfect playbook for reducing its reliance on Amazon

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For most 50+ year old companies, change is slow. But when a little thing called appeared on their radar, Shively Sporting Goods (est. 1968) wasted no time.

The Kentucky-based sports retailer quickly onboarded to Amazon Seller Central and FBA. An established brick-and-mortar retailer with deep-rooted ties in the team-sporting world, Shively had merchandise from popular names, like Nike, Adidas and OAKLEY, that could be sold direct-to-consumer online.

In 2012, Shively’s ecommerce business underwent a seismic shift. The end of one major vendor relationship crashed sales, underscoring the need to branch out from Amazon to reduce concentration risk.

But a move like this would take months (and many sleepless nights) of manual labor to achieve.

Fortunately, Zentail and SkuVault let them automate this process. By enlisting their help, Shively moved their inventory into their own warehouses and opened new sales channels within a matter of weeks. No allnighters required.

“This was a very, very scary time,” recalls Online Sales Executive Adam Flanders. “Without Zentail or SkuVault, I don’t know what we would have done.”

shively sporting goods shop
Snapshot of Shively's brick-and-mortar store

Removing Growing Pains with Zentail and SkuVault

Using Zentail, Shively launched to eBay, Walmart and a new BigCommerce site. (Later, they would add Google, Facebook, Wish and Jet.) They simultaneously used SkuVault to scale up their warehouse operations so that they could safely wean off of FBA.  

Because Zentail and SkuVault are integration partners, Shively could reap the benefits of both systems from one easy-to-use interface.

“Other platforms are confusing. With Zentail and SkuVault, everything is user friendly and there’s not a huge learning curve involved,” says Flanders. “I don’t get stressed out accessing either system.”

This connection also ensured proper data-swapping. For example, when an order came in through any ecommerce channel, Zentail could adjust a product’s displayed quantity across other channels and instantly pass the information to SkuVault for fulfillment. As a result, Shively enjoyed accelerated:

  • Time to pick, pack and ship orders
  • Time to sync inventory levels
  • Time to analyze profitability

The results were almost immediate. Within the first year, Shively’s total ecommerce revenue jumped by 360%—establishing them as a multi-million dollar seller who saw continued growth the following year. Sales from eBay and other newly added channels far outweighed that of Amazon’s.

multichannel breakdown after using zentail
Share of revenue between Amazon and other marketplaces that Shively expanded to using Zentail

In the same time frame, Shively dramatically reduced their reliance on Amazon FBA. Their profit margins doubled in the first year (some even tripled depending on the SKU), and productivity skyrocketed.  

Today, the company still enjoys a fast-moving ecommerce engine. Between easy catalog management and quick order fulfillment, Zentail and SkuVault keep operations running smoothly.

fulfillment breakdown after using skuvault
Share of fulfilled orders between Amazon FBA and Shively's own warehouse

Enter Zentail

Managing Multichannel Listings and Analytics with Zentail

Zentail’s product information management system (PIM) cuts Shively’s prior listing time in half. Instead of creating each new channel listing by hand, the team simply imports their catalog into Zentail, where products are instantly attributed and categorized for various channels via SMART Types.

With a mere click of a button, Shively can list a product to multiple channels. From there, they can freely adjust the price or product details of a SKU(s) using Quick Edit.

“When I first signed up with Zentail, I knew, ‘This is what’s going to take us from zero to sixty real quick,” says Flander. “I also realized that now that my time’s cut down, I can really build up this business.”

As business is growing, Flanders has replaced hours of number-crunching with Zentail’s multichannel analytics, which track shipping costs, profit margins, sales tax, reorder timing and more. This real-time visibility has improved the accuracy of their stockout predictions and analysis of where their money is best spent as they look to finetune their long-term strategy.

Managing Quality Control on the Warehouse Floor with SkuVault

shively sporting goods warehouse

With FBA out of the picture, Shively now carries the burden of running a whole warehouse that can keep up with around-the-clock orders. Aside from fulfilling orders in time, they need a reliable system for preventing mispicks and forgotten orders altogether.

SkuVault’s Quality Control feature gives the team “peace of mind,” according to Flanders. An alert will notify the team if an order is mispicked. And if the order still isn’t corrected, there’s a record of which item got mishandled and when so that the team can prevent future mispicks.

To that end, SkuVault routes orders to the right bin locations and generates custom pick lists (e.g., wave picking and hyper picking).

The ability to check real-time inventory across their warehouse has also been a game changer, both for its online and in-store businesses. “It’s not all ecommerce-driven at times,” Flanders says. “SkuVault would even work with my POS system [in my store] that I can sell something in my store and on the internet at the same time.”

Whether foolproofing warehouse flows or keeping track of inventory, SkuVault makes it possible to run a full-scale warehouse operation without exhausting resources.

“There’s no way that any other company could have done what either of these companies have done for me because it was always a partnership. I was never just a number.”

Upwards and Forwards into the Future

50 Years of Success and Many More to Go

Flanders is optimistic about what the future holds, especially with Zentail and SkuVault on his side.

“What I got personally from Zentail and SkuVault nobody else could help me with,” says Flanders. “There’s no way that any other company could have done what either of these companies have done for me because it was always a partnership. I was never just a number.”

He envisions the company evolving more into a brand and doubling in size within a few years’ time, adding, “When I need something or have any concerns, who do you think I’m calling? I’m calling on you guys.”

photo of adam flanders, head of ecommerce at shively sporting goods
Adam Flanders, online sales executive and ecommerce lead at Shively Sporting Goods

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