3balls.com began as a whim of the owners of Joe & Leigh’s Discount Golf Shop. They originally just planned to use eBay to try to move some stagnant inventory, but when it flew out the door they realised they might be on to something. Today, with more than 70 employees, 3balls.com has become a top-notch, award-winning online retailer that’s the largest golf equipment seller on eBay. Specialising in used and like-new branded golf equipment, 3balls.com has always aimed to “make a friend, not a sale.” That philosophy has paid off big time as the company has been inducted into the eBay Hall of Fame, is listed on the Internet Retailer 500 list, and has seen its PGA.com Value Guide become the Blue Book of golf. 3balls.com inspects, cleans, processes and sells golf equipment that has been acquired from customer trade-ins, manufacturers, PGA Professionals and golf shops around the country.
In 2003, eBay accounted for nearly 100% of 3balls.com’s online sales, so having the right solution to manage that marketplace was essential. They found they couldn’t do it without hiring more and more staff, so they went with a ChannelAdvisor competitor. The solution, however, wasn’t really a “solution.”
“It wasn’t scalable and it wasn’t really keeping up with the eBay marketplace and all the changes in that environment,” said Doug Smith, vice president of marketing and business development for 3balls.com. “We needed something to streamline and seamlessly handle hundreds of auctions every day.”
The company also has a core backbone system for back-office management, and they needed a partner that could integrate with that. “We needed a solution that could take unique inventory items and make it easier to launch them into different ads, selling strategies, listing designs, pricing strategies and automated scheduling,” Smith said.
On the Comparison Shopping side, 3balls.com was also using a ChannelAdvisor competitor, but they found the provider wasn’t nimble enough. “There was too much reliance on other teams,” Smith said. “We needed a self-management solution that could make it easier to expand to other shopping engines without increasing the cost.”
Smith enlisted ChannelAdvisor for assistance implementing, both the Marketplaces and Digital Marketing solutions, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“For Marketplaces, ChannelAdvisor has helped by automating some of the features that used to be very manual processes for us,” Smith said. “We also found that ChannelAdvisor really stays on top of eBay’s frequent API changes. It’s great to have a partner that’s always keeping up with these changes and basically enabling some type of automation that makes our business more efficient.”
Smith is equally pleased with the results on comparison shopping engines using Digital Markweting. “One definite benefit we found with ChannelAdvisor is the ability to manage our shopping feeds and set up business rules based upon the performance we’re seeing in different engines,” he said. “We can tweak our feeds and constantly improve them, something we couldn’t do before ChannelAdvisor, and we’re seeing some very positive results from that.”
Amazon has always been a small sales channel for 3balls.com, and Smith’s goal is to increase operational efficiency by going with ChannelAdvisor’s next-generation Amazon solution. “That will free up our resources to do more analytical reporting instead of just uploading and downloading inventory, ” Smith said. “We’ll be able to get more products in play and drive up the average order value on Amazon.”
“Since we started using ChannelAdvisor, 3balls.com has seen growth on marketplaces well in excess of 300%,” Smith stated. “In recent years we’ve seen year-over-year growth of 30% on comparison shopping engines. ChannelAdvisor has played a fundamental role in that growth.”
In sum, Smith said, “ChannelAdvisor has helped 3balls.com sell more!” And they’re not the only ones who think so. For the past three years, 3balls.com has been awarded Inc. Magazine’s award for Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in America.”