How the Baltimore Ravens Automated Custom Products

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The Baltimore Ravens are a professional American football team based in Baltimore. The Ravens compete in the National Football League as a member club of the American Football Conference North division. The team plays its home games at M&T Bank Stadium and is headquartered in Owings Mills
Baltimore, Maryland
Professional sports

This year’s NFL season will be a unique one because of the COVID-19 pandemic: the number of fans allowed at stadiums is going to be 0 or limited depending on state laws. For a sport that’s so focused on the fan experience, it’ll be a strange experience for players to play with almost no one in the stands.

To combat the “awkwardness,” many NFL teams are offering their fans the ability to be in the stands with cardboard cutouts of their pictures. The Ravens are one of the few teams that won’t allow any fans in their stadium. With 71,008 seats now empty, the Ravens had to find a way to scale production of this customized product in time for the start of the NFL season.

Learn how the Alloy team helped automate the production process.

The Problem

For any ecommerce merchant selling a custom product, the amount of time it takes to customize each product to meet individual needs is time-consuming. That’s why many ecommerce businesses don’t focus on custom products in the first place.

For the Ravens, their customers are able to purchase their cutouts directly from the Ravens' Website. Where it gets complicated is there are a strict set of requirements for a cutout to be approved. For the Ravens, each order needs to be manually reviewed and approved.

The issue for the Ravens was that reviewing a cutout order involved many manual processes. Here’s how they have to review and approve an order (and what happens if the cutout is rejected):

  • A team member reviews the order in Airtable to ensure that requirements are met and the picture isn’t blurry
  • Their team has to send an email to the customer explaining the reason why their cutout was rejected
  • The email needs to mention how the customer can fix the issue
  • They would have to manually generate a custom discount code within Shopify so the customer can make the purchase again with the right requirements
  • Once an order is approved, it’s manually sent to their printer, so they can begin printing the cutout

With hundreds of orders coming in per day, and many of them being rejected due to small errors, the Ravens needed a way to automate the manual work involved so they could scale up production.

The Solution

Working with the Ravens, the Alloy team was able to automate many aspects of the order, review, and customer service processes to help the Ravens scale up production.

Here’s how we did it:

Apps Used

The Alloy team integrated the following apps:

  • Airtable
  • Shopify
  • Twitter

Automated Workflows Created

Here are the automated workflows we created for the Ravens:

  • Airtable Connection: We connected Airtable so each time a cutout is approved, the cutout information is automatically sent to production
  • Order Confirmation: When a customer makes a purchase from Shopify, they receive a customized Ravens branded thank you email with an image of the cutout they bought
  • Twitter: Once the order is approved, the customer is emailed with an image of their cutout and a custom link to Tweet to show off their new cutout
  • Order Rejected: A custom discount code is created so the customer can buy the cutout again and the customer is automatically emailed with that discount code
  • Automated Unique Discount Coded: When an admin rejects the order, a discount code is generated for the product, and an email is sent to the customer can repurchase the product
  • Order Approved: Send the new order from Shopify to the Ravens’ printing service provider

The Results

With the automated workflows created, the Ravens are now able to automate away many of their manual tasks. Once an order is placed, reviewed, and approved by a team member, it’s automatically printed out and ready for placement in the Ravens’ stadium.

With over 27,000 cutouts being ordered, the Ravens’ stadium won’t feel quite so empty once the season begins.