Five Critical Lessons in Digitising Teamwear from Working with the World’s Biggest Sportswear Brands

Five Critical Lessons in Digitising Teamwear from Working with the World’s Biggest Sportswear Brands


At Unmade, we’ve spent seven years building the technology the fashion industry needs to move to a more demand-driven model, for some of the world’s largest and most recognisable brands — many of whom have been sportswear brands.

Teamsports is emerging as not only an untapped opportunity for growth and consumer engagement, but the bleeding edge of value chain innovation.

We believe teamwear is blazing a trail today that the whole apparel industry will follow tomorrow.

If you’re trying to move from outsourcing to direct sales, enhance your existing business with a digital offering or get into teamwear for the first time, we’ve collated five crucial learnings from our work to inspire your shift.

1. One Size Does Not Fit All

Scale matters.

Selling to a team of five people requires a different process than selling to a team of 1000, particularly with customisable elements in the sales process.

Matching the sales approach with the right solution, at any size, has been a critical learning for us:

Different team sizes requite different approaches.

Back in 2018, we were focusing on smaller team sizes and solutions, but we quickly discovered that to really excel at teamwear, it’s important to work across the spectrum.

Since then, we’ve seen a huge shift in the types and scale of orders we handle.

In 2018, 75% of the orders we handled were single unit orders; today, 75% of our orders are over 100 units.

2. Automation Boosts Productivity — and Experience

Unmade’s front end configurator drives a fantastic consumer experience when it comes to design, but it needs to be matched by a robust production process.

If you can’t automate workflows and production, scale and profitability will remain elusive — this key learning has been fundamental to the evolution of UnmadeOS since the very beginning.

When we launched our first teamwear customer in 2019, we quickly realised automating production was key to unlocking growth. Every year since then, we’ve striven to unlock bigger volumes and reduce manual intervention.

Every customer we’ve worked with has offered us unique production challenges. Solving those challenges is what has helped us grow the sophistication of UnmadeOS.

Automation is not just about profitability however; it is a crucial partner to consumer experience.

Automation can offer not just reduced error rates and better delivery times, but deeper levels of product customisation, including personalised imagery, the remarketing of other products matching their custom design, and even the option to see their design on their favourite athlete.

It can also have a profound impact on your teams, freeing them from task-based work to focus on more valuable activities that can elevate your brand as a whole.

3. Create Loyal Brand Consumers with Teamwear

Covid has accelerated the move to ecommerce for many fashion brands, making user experience more important than ever.

In the case of teamwear, the consumer experience is perhaps more critical than in any other division.

Teamwear consumers are being asked to commit to a product that doesn’t yet exist, so your digital offering must be able to showcase their items as true to life as possible, to increase conversions and reduce errors.

This realisation helped us develop UnmadeOS’s sophisticated configurator, so consumers get a true-to-life visualisation of a product.

Example of an Unmade Team Sports Editor with customisation options and product visualisation.

Teamwear is not only a supply chain challenge, it’s also a retail challenge, forcing us to confront complex issues such as how to connect sales reps and vendors with customers in the right way, and handle multiple buyers with one shipping address, or multiple shipping addresses with one buyer.

The key takeaway is that teamwear is an important brand-building opportunity, allowing consumers and your team to interact much more closely than on a standard sale, establishing a deeper and more connected relationship.

Smart brands will harness the power of these opportunities to create loyal customers.

4. Phased Projects for the Win

This may sound obvious, but we’ve found that a phased approach to implementing new models or technologies is the most effective way forward.

Identifying and delivering on small wins can help you build a compelling commercial case for bigger implementations across the business.

In each phase, you gain insights into your customers and your organisation that help define and guide the next phases — insights that are very hard to figure out before you start.

Today we cover seven languages, four currencies and 46 geographies, and sporting categories — but that’s certainly not where we started!

When it comes to teamwear, you’ll find that different situations need different levels of customisation, and different sports too. There’s a balance to be struck in maintaining choice without limiting creativity, but taking on smaller phased projects will help you find that balance.

5. Teamsports? Team Goals

Your team has all the answers you need to implement a successful teamsports strategy. The biggest question is — are they ready for change?

Implementing a teamwear solution successfully requires supply-chain, retail, tech and product to come together at all levels, including leadership. Although technology can help coordinate and connect these stakeholders, they must be aligned around a visible goal.

Some brands have teamwear divisions that are established with people from each of these areas, creating micro versions of the broader business. More often than not, though, resources from other parts of the brand will be needed to make the project a success.

We’ve found that having those stakeholders involved early on is imperative to the long term success of your project.

Win the Teamwear Digital Race with Unmade

We’ve helped brands like New Balance and Decathlon create scalable teamwear offers, using Unmade OS to translate customer design into production data, ready for manufacture, anywhere in the world.

Talk to us to learn how we can elevate your teamwear business, ready for fashion production in a digital world.