Meet Rebel Athletic, the Magento-Powered Cheerleading Brand Taking on the World

Five brands. Five different webstores. One major headache.

When Karen Noseff Aldridge founded her cheerleading uniform startup, Rebel Athletic, she knew she had a fight on her hands. The $300 million market for cheerleader apparel is dominated by Varsity Brands, a $1.2 billion company whose slogan says it all: “We are cheerleading.” But Noseff Aldridge said, “I think…I can design a better product.” She decided to risk her entire $10,000 marketing budget on just one event, Cheerleading Worlds 2013. There she outfitted the Cheer Athletics Panthers team, who burst onto the stage in a dazzling uniform featuring a cat appliqué executed in glimmering micro-crystals. “Overnight, everybody knew who we were,” said Noseff Aldridge. “Following the reveal of that uniform…we took in over $600,000 in 72 hours.”

Soon the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders were wearing Rebel practice wear and uniforms. According to Inc. Magazine, Rebel Athletic had become “one of the most exciting companies to hit cheerleading in years,” and Rebel, based in Dallas with a factory in China, was turning a profit after just 12 months. By 2015 their revenue approached $20 million, as the business added four new brands: Rebel Dream Bag, Rebel Cheer & Dance, Rebel Ruthless, and even Rebel Mark Cosmetics. But the company’s eCommerce operation was faltering. “We had to manage five different websites and they were all running on different WordPress back-ends,” explained Rebel’s Jeff Foster, “our retail sales and traffic was growing so much that our sites were just crashing.” Fulfilling orders from different sites was becoming impossible. Analytics were a chore, and Rebel’s eCommerce operations were holding back the business. As anyone involved in cheerleading will tell you, working together is the key to success, so to unify their business, Rebel went in search of a serious eCommerce platform.

"The day that we had our call with Magento, Shopify's servers went down! I think this made our decision."

Jeff Foster

Rebel Athletic

Introducing perfectly choreographed eCommerce.

Jeff Foster had deeply researched the eCommerce platform market, and auditioned various competing products, from Big Commerce to Shopify to Magento. “We were going to choose between Shopify and Magento,” recalled Foster, “but the day we had our call with Magento, Shopify’s servers went down! I think this made our decision.” At the time, Rebel was moving much of its data storage and infrastructure to AWS, and was impressed by the hassle-free performance of a cloud-based platform. “With the cloud, it’s somebody else’s problem to help maintain it,” explained Foster, “and it helps us stay lean. Everything is maintained for us and we get the scalability.” They chose to implement Magento Commerce Cloud.

Together with Magento Solution Partner, Creatuity, Rebel started work on their digital transformation. They built a multi-store infrastructure that would run all five of Rebel’s brands on one site. And with just one order platform, Rebel would cut down on hundreds of hours of wasted time, and run analytics for the whole brand with ease. “It’s all one-log in and it’s one place to view and add new products,” said Foster. “When I think back to when we launched the cosmetics business, we actually had to set up an entirely new WordPress instance, new themes, all that fun stuff. Now, with Magento you just enable a new store, copy the theme over, and all the real work is already done. This allows us to grow into the future, it’s so scalable.” Foster admits that Rebel’s lean team had no coding background, so by using the native CMS of Magento Commerce, uploading products and launching new offers is now a breeze, with drag and drop functionality. By utilizing an advanced export module, orders of retail apparel and accessories are now automatically processed through Rebel’s ERP system, replacing a once manual and time-sapping process. 

Traffic and sales through the roof.

Launched in October of 2017 after an implementation time of six months, the new site now gives Rebel more time to sell to customers. “We don’t have to constantly touch the site and fix what was broken,” said Foster. Finally, Rebel had a webstore that could keep up with their internet savvy customers: “The new site is very mobile friendly,” said Foster. “A lot of our designs and images are geared towards mobile because 70 to 80 percent of our customers come from mobile.” The results speak for themselves: Rebel enjoyed a 350 percent increase in holiday sales year-over-year, and saw a 25 percent increase in mobile traffic. Rebel customers love browsing the site, resulting in a staggering 500 percent increase in active sessions.

By running their five websites on just one shopping cart, life is also easier for Jeff Foster and his team. “Day-to-day we really just load new products and keep track of sales,” he said. And with Cloud there’s no need to worry about crashing servers. “We were contacted in early December and told our server instance had been upgraded for 20 or 30 days to help handle the incoming holiday orders, without even asking. With triple redundancy from Amazon we feel safe.” Rebel also discovered the joys of Magento Business Intelligence: “It’s absolutely amazing,” Foster said. “There’s so many analytics that we didn’t even know were there. Especially going into the next holiday season. Now we have true data from last year. It’s easy to find different reports, without having to make 50 different Excel spreadsheets with pivot tables.” For all the risks taken by Karen Noseff Aldridge, Rebel is a now a business fit to scale their retail offerings to the mainstream market.

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