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B-Wear Sportswear Finds Ecommerce Fit with BigCommerce

How a clothing embroidery and screen print business innovated and adapted with BigCommerce during a global pandemic.


5.19%162%81%
conversion rateincrease in revenueincrease in site traffic


Metrics reflect online sales from April 2019–April 2020.


Getting Active with Ecommerce

Having over 400 embroidery heads, 8 automatic screen print presses, a 240,000 square-foot facility, and more than 300 employees, 5B’s Inc., an embroidery and screen print company, had everything it needed to step into the traditional retail space. With the launch of B-Wear Sportswear, 5B’s added another stitch to expand the fabric of its business. B-Wear Sportswear provides fun and practical clothing for people and pets alike.

Prior to 2018, B-Wear had never done anything online. At that time, the company had no ecommerce presence, only small brick-and-mortar stores in two Ohio cities: Zanesville and Newark. While the retail stores did very well, Shane Biles, marketing manager at B-Wear, witnessed the rapid growth of ecommerce and felt it could expand B-Wear’s reach. He realized the potential of B-Wear to be successful online, and decided that rolling out an online store was a great opportunity before establishing 10 more brick-and-mortar stores. With that decision made, Shane began the search for the perfect platform.

Though he didn’t know it at the time, the decision to invest online would prove to be a godsend amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

BigCommerce, the Best Platform to Suit B-Wear’s Needs

As told to BigCommerce by Shane Biles, B-Wear Sportswear Marketing Manager.

I did a lot of research, weighing pros and cons of popular platforms and looking for some of the big players in the industry. I had many onboarding calls and initial conversations with three or four different companies, including Shopify and WooCommerce. Price is always an important factor to consider, and BigCommerce offered a fair price. We also felt that BigCommerce offered good out-of-the-box credit card processing options—and the fact that there were no transactional per order fees was a big plus. 

In thinking about what kind of ecommerce platform would best suit our business, I wanted something that was visually appealing and user-friendly from the customers' point of view as well as internally. I really liked BigCommerce’s back-end operational view of things—how it works and how it's laid out. It’s modern and easy to navigate while still offering a lot of options to grow into. It felt sophisticated, yet didn’t threaten to overwhelm some of our less experienced employees.

We found essentially all of the things we were initially looking for in BigCommerce. Ecommerce was a new endeavor for us, and BigCommerce helped make the transition as smooth as possible.

We were confident that BigCommerce wasn’t a platform we would need to change in two or three years. We went into this with very lofty goals to hit some high revenue markers. Even though the first year was a fraction of what we'll do this year, it just goes to show that things were working perfectly then, and we've since continued to expand and grow. BigCommerce was and is still a phenomenal partner for all of these reasons and more.

“We were confident that BigCommerce wasn’t a platform we would need to change in two or three years.”Shane Biles, Marketing Manager, B-Wear Sportswear

Sophisticated Integrations For a Unique Customer Experience

As told to BigCommerce by Shane Biles, B-Wear Sportswear Marketing Manager.

We want to have a place where customers can chat with customer service representatives at a moment's notice, so we’ve been using the live chat feature for quite a while. That's something we keep on during work hours, as it helps speed up the purchasing process for customers and cuts down on the amount of email traffic and larger scale customer service issues we receive. We also like that we can provide a simple and straightforward way for customers to interact with us, since our customer base is typically between 30 and 50 years old, and they’re not the most tech savvy. 

Sumo is what we use for the site entry popup. Since we've launched BigCommerce, our big site entry pitch has been “enter your email for a chance to win a free T-shirt.” Ever since we started our first full year in 2018, we've given away one free T-shirt every single day. In doing so, we've built an email list of over 200,000 people in basically two years.

We also use Trustpilot, which helps us harbor product and service reviews. Their widgets plug into our site nicely and can be easily found by customers, so it’s very convenient. Trustpilot has been impactful for us because it really shows legitimacy as a business—it’s helped us generate over 12,000 five-star reviews in about a year and a half. We’re actually rated overall a 4.9 out of five, making B-Wear the highest-rated activewear brand on Trustpilot.


Rapid Growth With Facebook Marketing

As told to BigCommerce by Shane Biles, B-Wear Sportswear Marketing Manager.

Our most profitable marketing channel is definitely Facebook, which is where the majority of our marketing budget goes. While it was fairly expensive to acquire customers initially, we front loaded the customer base, and put a lot of money into that initially. It’s been paying dividends now, and has helped us grow at a rapid pace. I think it's one of the big reasons we were able to double our growth from 2018 to 2019, and very likely will do so again this year.

We've put a lot of effort on the Facebook side of things. The fact that BigCommerce is on the cutting edge of the Facebook shop is something that we're excited about implementing to make the purchasing process even more seamless. It flows right into BigCommerce and keeps the fulfillment side consistent.

“We’re actually rated overall a 4.9 out of five, making B-Wear the highest-rated activewear brand on Trustpilot.”Shane Biles, Marketing Manager, B-Wear Sportswear

One of my favorite aspects about working in a business like ours is the ability to be constantly changing with the way the world changes. During this pandemic, we've redirected our marketing and design work to continue to provide value despite what's going on.Shane Biles, Marketing Manager, B-Wear Sportswear
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Adjusting the Business Model In Times of Crisis

As told to BigCommerce by Shane Biles, B-Wear Sportswear Marketing Manager.

Obviously this is a difficult time, as COVID-19 is affecting everyone in some way, shape or form. For us, it's had some positive effects. One of my favorite aspects about working in a business like ours is the ability to be constantly changing with the way the world changes. During this pandemic, we've redirected our marketing and design work to continue to provide value despite what's going on.

One big thing we've done is focusing heavily on positivity. We’re taking advantage of our capability of creating cool T-shirts by putting together a collection of positive or uplifting sayings that tie in with our Christian principles. We want to spread as much good as we can, and the success of that line has been very strong during this time. To compliment nurses, police officers, firefighters, and anyone that's on the front lines of this pandemic, we also created a collection of garments with sayings like, “I am the front line” or “I support the front line.” We’re happy to report that this collection has also done very well.

Another shift in our business is the decision to produce and sell face coverings. They aren't medical grade, but local health authorities were calling on us to repurpose our sewing machines and production warehouse into something that could produce masks for local hospitals. We decided to sell them through the retail outlet as well, since it was becoming more and more encouraged to wear face coverings in public. That was something that had brought a lot of good publicity because our parent company was really head-on in that fight.

The fact that we've been current and paid attention to what's going on in the country has benefited our brand. Our ability to produce these garments quickly and use BigCommerce to list them and get them out into the public has been huge as well. There's only so much we can do as a retail company, but this was our way of trying to spread some positivity, make people smile, and take their minds off everything that's going on. 

Something I would stress to other retailers during this time is, if you have the ability, be genuine and show that you care. Especially during something like this crisis, either making a donation to a local organization or doing something that brings awareness to people on the front lines is so important. People want to shop with companies they believe in and feel like their morals are aligned with. It didn't really used to be that way five, 10, 20 years ago. But as we are now, it's definitely a crucial trend to be open-minded and open-hearted and do your part.

“Something I would stress to other retailers during this time is, if you have the ability, be genuine and show that you care.”Shane Biles, Marketing Manager, B-Wear Sportswear

B-Wear Continues to Evolve and Uplevel With BigCommerce

As told to BigCommerce by Shane Biles, B-Wear Sportswear Marketing Manager.

We're still establishing who we are and are not tied to one specific thing. We're open minded in the sense that we're willing to try new designs, new garments, and marketing to different demographics. I think that's my favorite thing about the B-Wear brand and about the ecommerce space. You have the ability to change what you're offering, how you're offering it, and how you're displaying it pretty much instantly.

The ability to work in the ecommerce space just as, if not more, efficiently than everyone else out there has become a reality for us on BigCommerce. There’s tons of competition in the ecommerce world because it's not that difficult to start an online store. But I think BigCommerce is competitive on all fronts. From site layouts, to promotion options, to product listings, to even customer support, I feel like BigCommerce offers anything and everything you could want from an ecommerce partner.

“I feel like BigCommerce offers anything and everything you could want from an ecommerce partner.”Shane Biles, Marketing Manager, B-Wear Sportswear

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