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Toronto Raptors and St. Louis Blues fans are breaking merch records

Two days, two titles. On Wednesday the Blues won the Stanley Cup, last night the Raptors won the NBA title, and Fanatics mobile-first, on-demand manufacturing model is being put to the test.

Toronto Raptors and St. Louis Blues fans are breaking merch records
[Photo: courtesy of Fanatics]

Last night, the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA title by beating the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. And even as Kawhi Leonard was taking those last foul shots in the final seconds, Raptors fans were already buying their championship gear by the bucket load.

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According to sports gear manufacturer and retailer Fanatics, nine hours after the final whistle, the Raptors have notched the second highest-ever NBA championship sales, falling just short of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. But 81% of those Raptors orders have come through mobile, the highest the company has ever seen. Fanatics holds all apparel rights for the NHL, and most of the NBA (Nike makes the on-court championship T-shirt).

While it’s predictable that 60% of all Raptors sales are coming from Canada, according to Fanatics the top U.S. market for Raptors gear right now is . . . San Francisco.

[Photo: courtesy of Fanatics]
More than 50% of a championship team’s merchandise sales take place within the first 72 hours after the win. It’s maybe most emotional, impulsive kind of shopping, and mobile technology only makes it more so. It’s exactly why over the last few years Fanatics—a 2019 Fast Company Most Innovative Company—has been building out its mobile e-commerce technology and on-demand manufacturing model.

Back in the fall, Fanatics chief technology officer Matt Madrigal told me that the guiding principles for building its new system were speed, agility, unpredictability, and mobile-first. “For every incremental second it takes a page to load, you see (sales) conversion rates drop by 7%,” said Madrigal. “So we improved site speed by two times, and saw smartphone conversion improve by 30%.”

So far, the St. Louis Blues have beaten all the Fanatics NHL Stanley Cup sales records set last year by the Washington Capitals, with 78% of orders coming over mobile. A Fanatics spokesperson says, “We see bigger days overall during holiday peak around Cyber Monday, but we’ve never seen two different champs do this much volume in a 24-hour span.”

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Bring on the parades.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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