As fast as the music charts change, so can the e-commerce landscape. That’s why Sweetwater Sound, an Indiana-based recording electronics and instrument superstore, began selling online, as well as on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Reverb. But there’s more to a thriving digital presence than simply going digital. The company needed a way to optimize online operations, continually scale and increase profitability in a dramatically changing e-commerce landscape.

Sweetwater turned to ChannelAdvisor for powerful automation and reporting capabilities that could move at the speed of consumers’ changing needs across each selling channel. 

Streamlining and scaling

Sweetwater Sound got its start when founder and chairman Chuck Surack began a mobile recording studio in the back of his Volkswagen bus in 1979. Using his experience as a recording consultant to legends like Dolly Parton, Stevie Wonder and Aerosmith, he entered the retail business and grew his music electronics know-how to the 500,000 square foot fulfillment center it is today. 

Decades later when consumer buying habits began to shift online, so did Sweetwater, offering its extensive catalog of products to buyers digitally, resulting in some quick wins. The only challenge was taking the next step and optimizing for greater e-commerce success. To know where it was headed, Sweetwater needed a better way to track progress along the way. 

“We weren’t optimizing or measuring to see what we could do better,” explained Laura Smith, Sweetwater’s marketplace channel manager. “We wanted to understand what’s working and what’s not working, and how we can quickly make changes. That’s when we decided to partner with ChannelAdvisor.”

Today, Sweetwater uses both ChannelAdvisor Self-Service for Marketplaces and ChannelAdvisor Flex Feeds for automated tracking and powerful insights that allow the team to see its web sales more clearly and pivot in real time when necessary. Now, all of the company’s product data is streamlined in one centralized platform where Sweetwater can easily access holistic views of its marketplace channel performance. And with the ability to track and automate Amazon Ads, Sweetwater can manage and respond to rising advertising costs of sales (ACoS) as quickly as possible. In just one month, Sweetwater was able to decrease its ACoS by a whopping 81%, keeping its ad spend and profit margins in tune with long-term business goals.

“We are now able to drive a low advertising cost of sales, which is extremely important for any channel to remain profitable,” said Smith. “ChannelAdvisor also gives us the control and insight to make adjustments where needed to maintain and improve that efficiency over time as well.” 

Smith believes ChannelAdvisor’s automation capabilities are a key differentiator when it comes to mastering business rules and product visibility. Now, her team can understand which product attributes fit the bill for a particular channel and send the assortment that satisfies Sweetwater’s established targets instead of sending everything and figuring it out later. 

“It’s not just about maintaining listings and content,” said Smith. “ChannelAdvisor also allows us to execute on tasks programmatically and provides competitive insights and additional reporting that we don’t have access to anywhere else.”  

Plus, Flex Feeds have allowed Sweetwater to build a customized integration with Reverb, a music-specific marketplace, helping the company further target its audience. Using existing business rules and controls, Sweetwater can ensure it is only listing the right products with the right content to meet customer and channel requirements. 

Ready for the future

Sweetwater won’t be going the way of eight-track and cassette tapes any time soon. With the ability to streamline e-commerce operations and expand to new channels from a central place, the company has its sights set on smarter growth that accomplishes goals and increases profitability. And that’s music to our ears. 

“ChannelAdvisor gives my team the flexibility to implement changes quickly and at scale,” said Smith. “ChannelAdvisor helps to take the heavy lifting off of [our] team and allows us to push out changes quickly and efficiently and pivot at the drop of a hat.”

Interested in seeing how you can achieve similar success? Request a demo today.

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