Inside Custom Sports Sleeves’ Playbook: Online Retail by Design

Custom Sports Sleeves ( is a top global manufacturer of sports compression gear. The company is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality in all of its compression products. Using the latest design trends and the most technologically advanced sports performance fabric, Custom Sports Sleeves produces products for some of the world’s best athletes.

Apparel Company Finds Athletic Match in Shift4Shop

Around 2000, Allen Iverson and other NBA players started wearing compression arm sleeves to keep their arms warm and ready to shoot. Big sports brands like Nike and Under Armour caught onto the new trend, which also proved fashionable for younger athletes.

Noticing a need in the online marketplace for more color & customization, Mike Josephs launched Custom Sports Sleeves (CSS) in January 2005. “Big brands sold compression sleeves in limited colors and youth sizes,” Mike explains. “We wanted to hit the market with a fully customizable alternative that served more demographics.”

Custom Sports Sleeves launched on GoDaddy’s shopping cart platform with more than 30 color options. However, after about a year, Mike recognized a growing need for a dedicated ecommerce software solution with more features, simpler control and a wider array of layout & design options. After a long search, Mike decided to launch with Shift4Shop. He based his decision on three areas of functionality where Shift4Shop excelled:

1) Ability to Display Color & Customization Options: CSS’s biggest value proposition is customizability; therefore, they required a platform that would easily allow customers to customize their product and visualize the customization. “With Shift4Shop, we can use color swatch imaging rather than redirecting them to a color chart,” Mike says. “That functionality eases the customization process.”

2) General Ease-of-Use: According to Mike, Shift4Shop simplifies nwebsite management for retailers with limited knowledge of HTML. Using the WYSIWYG editor, content management is a cinch.

3) High Organic Search Rankings: From the very beginning, Shift4Shop’s built-in SEO measures helped position CSS at the top of the search rankings for their key terms & phrases. “We still flirt with that number one position without much work on our end,” Mike says. From a feature standpoint, Shift4Shop fulfilled everything CSS could want at a low initial investment for a startup retailer. But CSS found even more value in Shift4Shop’s design services.

Tapping Shift4Shop’s Design Team to Stay Fit

CSS started out with a general design that showed off athletic branding elements and fit the bill for the first few years. As the business grew, they tapped Shift4Shop’s onsite design resources to refresh their store design.

“We’ve had more than one great experience with the Shift4Shop design team,” Mike explains. “Our most recent redesign, however, has helped propel us to a record-high month in March.”

While CSS focused its first two redesigns with Shift4Shop on aesthetics, the most recent focused primarily on the store’s user-friendliness. The overhaul would target four key areas of improvement.

Enhanced Category Navigation

To free up space on each page, Shift4Shop’s design team moved the categories from the left-hand side to a new top navigation. The move simplified navigation and gave CSS more control of page content.

Drop-Down Menus

Prior to the redesign, customers had to click on a category to view the subcategory listings on a separate page. Now, with new dropdown menus implemented, CSS customers can view subcategories directly on the page to find what they need quickly.

New Product Listings Page Layout

A new page layout allowed CSS to cut-down and break-up the description content into tabs. For instance, a general description and sizing information can reside on the same page under different tabs, without forcing the shopper to reload the page.

Sleeker Branding Elements & Design

In addition to user-friendly updates, Shift4Shop’s design team helped integrate sleeker branding elements into the site to enhance the ‘athletic’ feel the brand communicates.

Using Shift4Shop’s built-in customization features, CSS is also in the process of integrating an advanced visualization tool. When shoppers use the color swatch to choose a color, the picture of the sleeve on the page will also change color.

Mike says his experience working with the Shift4Shop team for eCommerce website design work has been overwhelmingly positive. “We work with a single point of contact who communicates all of our goals to the design team,” he says. “Having that streamlined communication simplifies the project for everyone.”

CSS Enjoys Scalable Growth with Help from Shift4Shop

Beyond Shift4Shop’s built-in features and customer service, CSS has gained traction from the shopping carts seamless integrations. Among Mike’s favorite integrations is Endicia, a comprehensive shipping software suite.

“We started out copying and pasting shipping labels by hand,” Mike recounts. “It was inefficient to start, but when we started doing a higher volume of orders, it was just a mess. With Endicia, we save between two and three hours daily by automating the process.”

Shift4Shop’s integration with Endicia simplifies the shipping process for businesses with smaller staffs. For CSS, orders placed through the Shift4Shop system automatically upload in bulk to Endicia’s system. “A click of the button prints shipping labels in order for, say, 150 orders in ten minutes,” Mike adds.

Since the company launched with Shift4Shop, CSS has enjoyed scalable, consistent growth. In March, Mike says the brand enjoyed a 10 percent sales hike over last year’s numbers.

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