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IBM helps Varsity expand into new markets
Oct '10
IBM announced that Varsity, the leader in cheerleading and dance team apparel, is doubling its daily sales and expanding into global markets with a new multi-channel online retail store powered by IBM software.

Based in Memphis, Tenn., Varsity is comprised of the leading spirit brands and organizations that provide educational camps, clinics, competitions and uniforms to cheer and dance teams around the world. With the expanding popularity of cheerleading and dance teams worldwide, Varsity needed a technology solution to support their online and field sales efforts, customer loyalty programs and global expansion strategy.

Varsity's first objective was to develop a more robust e-commerce platform to bring together all of its merchandise and service offerings in one easy-to-navigate shopping portal that is fully integrated with its social networking strategy and field sales consultants. Today, Varsity can reach customers through direct sales, online commerce and social networking -- providing the midsize company a powerful, multi-touch strategy to better connect with their target audiences, understand latest trends and respond to market needs.

"We're now in a position to not only complement the efforts of our sales staff in the field, but also provide coverage in areas not served by our representatives. Supporting new markets both domestically and internationally will be significant to our continued revenue growth," said Shannon Ahern, Varsity's Executive Director of e-Commerce. "WebSphere Commerce's marketing engine and social networking strengths will enable us to provide a highly personalized and interactive experience for our customers."

Powered by WebSphere Commerce, Varsity's website includes a rich catalog of cheer and dance products that are tailored to make the discovery and purchase process easy, plus dynamic search tools so customers can quickly locate what they need. Varsity's new e-commerce platform will allow the growing company to make extensive use of social media marketing to reach out to cheer teams in new markets worldwide as well as deploy a variety of branded sites. IBM Business Partner Trifecta Technologies was selected as Varsity's implementation partner for its expertise and "Store-in-a-Box" solution, which allows companies to efficiently deploy a market leading e-commerce solution.

Now underway is Varsity's first marketing campaign to drive traffic to the site from Twitter and Facebook. Until recently, these campaigns have focused solely on creating a community by driving conversation on topics related to cheer and dance. Having amassed more than 200,000 members on Twitter and Facebook, Varsity can now engage these audiences with branded content such as exclusive web sales on cheer and dance accessories.

"IBM and our Business Partners continue to help transform midsize companies into nimble, global businesses with powerful solutions that help them work smarter and more efficiently," said Andy Monshaw, general manager, IBM Midmarket. "By extending Varsity's sales efforts to blogs, mobile phones, Twitter and Facebook, Varsity is at the forefront of innovating on the core aspects of their business, and finding new ways to enhance its relationship with customer to provide the dynamic, highly customizable shopping experience they're seeking."

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