Meet Dale Manning—Gooten’s Newest On-Demand Merchandise Expert
by Gooten Editorial Team on Feb. 22, 2021
Gooten is thrilled to introduce our new Head of Market Expansion and New Ventures, Dale Manning. Dale comes to us from OneLive, one of Gooten’s elite-level partners, where he launched and grew their on-demand business.
Today, we’re talking to Dale about the on-demand industry and any advice he has for partners looking to scale their business.
GOOTEN: Can you share with our partners what you were doing before joining the Gooten team?
DALE: Most recently I was the VP of On Demand and Marketplaces at OneLive. OneLive is one of the largest eCommerce integrators in the music, entertainment, and sports industries. I led OneLive’s efforts to extend POD services for our clients around the globe in a partnership with Gooten in mid-2019. Before OneLive, I have spent 25+ years at either an advertising agency, record label, technology company, or working directly with the biggest names in the music industry.
GOOTEN: That sounds like an exciting career! What was one of your most memorable artist interactions?
DALE: Wow! I mean I have traveled the world on trains, planes, and tour busses with some of the biggest names in the industry. How to pick just one? Without naming names...there were a handful of humanitarian outings that were impactful to me personally as the artist uses their platform to truly make a difference to a group of people in a compromised situation. I know you want more...but honestly, I can’t tell you most things! Sorry.
GOOTEN: We understand—just thought we'd try our luck :)
So, what were some of your biggest challenges you faced when you launched on-demand at OneLive?
DALE: On-demand is an ever-evolving industry. It has been around for quite a while but hadn’t lived up to its potential until recently. I have been connected to on-demand production for probably 10 years, so when I was asked to lead this effort at OneLive I had the benefit of perspective. Now, OneLive had spent a lot of money and effort to create the right solution before I showed up, but found that to do it right was extremely difficult, and stopped attempting to create the solution. When I came in I went directly towards finding a partnership that was complementary to our business model and would allow us the scale and focus on what we did right as a company. I met with the executive teams of all the players in the industry. The producers. The marketplaces. The equipment manufacturers. I wanted to know everything about everyone and bounce it off of my experience and OneLive’s needs.
GOOTEN: Why did you ultimately decide to go with Gooten? Was there anything that separated us from the other options you were considering?
DALE: Ultimately, only Gooten got our vision and partnered with us at a level that provided immediate results on high-quality products, global redundancy of manufacturing, centralized accounting and order management, high-touch support team, and a spirit of a true partnership. We had 1800+ stores under management and Gooten modified their system to allow us to adapt and scale...that was the key difference.
GOOTEN: Multi-store management is a feature we are proud to offer! What was the most surprising to you about your partnership with Gooten over the years?
DALE: Probably the level of deep ongoing support we got when things go wrong. The on-demand industry has inherent risks that need to be mitigated. The friction that can grow between our clients and their customers has to have a strong support effort to quickly deal with any issue that arises. Gooten jumped on the issues at both the item level and the system level to fix the current pain, but also to address any issues in the supply chain.
GOOTEN: What are some of the most common mistakes merchants make when trying to scale their PoD business?
DALE: These would probably be the top 4 mistakes I’ve seen:
- Choosing price over quality. Everyone wants the cheapest cost and the best product, but you probably need to choose one or the other. Sometimes it works that you get both, but that is rare. In the long run, you will spend more on cheap products failing to satisfy your customers than you will getting the best price on a product done well through extra QA oversight done at the vendor level.
- Having too many providers integrated. The more 1:1 relationships you create in order to save a penny here or there by distributing certain SKUs to certain providers is generally short-sighted. This makes it hard to scale your accounting, customer service, and order management. Consolidation and centralization will bring the benefits of volume and how it relates to costs and reduces the general friction inherent to multi-vendor management.
- Underestimating the cost of good customer support Most companies have some form of customer service, but few invest properly in the people and the tools needed to do right. Spend extra here or have good partners who can help offset this. In the era of 1-star ratings, do what you can to do right by your customers in order to bring better LTV to your customers. You spend a lot on lowering your CAC, make it more sticky with good customer service.
- Not doing the homework. Take the time to have conversations, do research, and get anonymous samples made before you settle. All providers have strengths and weaknesses, make sure to align what is important to you is the same for them.
GOOTEN: What kind of work will you be doing at Gooten to help our merchant partners?
DALE: I will be helping from many perspectives. I will help those who are considering Gooten by providing my experience on custom solutions. I will help influence how our system grows as we focus on adding value back to our partners. I will help with ongoing education to merchant partners on market trends, technology advancements, and how to maximize your usage of the Gooten system.
GOOTEN: Looking out 3-5 years, beyond the obvious trends, what do you think will be the next big change in the on-demand industry?
DALE: I anticipate the following changes:
- Ways to produce items in a non-linear process. Get items created in the most cost-effective manner that is driven by a rules-driven system.
- Product line growth to be heavily driven by fast fashion, influencers, and issues surrounding sustainability.
- How to incorporate intelligence-driven virtual 3PLs to move your pre-printed products or blanks around the globe to get them in the hands of buyers faster.
- There will be additional consolidation as the marketplace matures. Larger players will come into the market and roll up companies to provide a more complete ecosystem.
- There will be true globals systems where items are produced in the country/state/territory they are purchased vs just the on the same continent
GOOTEN: With live shows and events on hold, artists and managing partners have had to become quite creative with their promotional efforts. What are some unique things you've seen introduced in the entertainment industry to continue to push sales?
DALE: Yeah, this is a painful subject. The pandemic has forced the industry to lose over 85% of its expected revenue in 2020 alone. That stress will continue into 2021. Over 200,000 people have been displaced from working in the industry and may or not come back when things return to “normal.” There was a silver lining. People wanted to buy merchandise online at a faster pace than previous because they had the time and the other sales channels had closed. Many artists, retailers, rights holders switched it up and leaned heavily on PoD to offset their inventory risk all while expanding their product offerings. This led to many bands, artists, sports teams having banner years online. New products like face masks emerged and people love to have comfy clothes, wine tumblers, and customized art to fill their life while stuck at home.
GOOTEN: If you had a list of “best-kept secrets” (books, articles, etc) you’d recommend, which would you include and why?
DALE: Boy, this is a good question. I wish there was a centralized info source I could point you on PoD or just the on-demand manufacturing world. There are some sources on the fringe of value like Printing Impressions and Textintel. For on-demand I have gleaned the information by reading articles, talking to the equipment manufacturers, the product producers, trade shows and just being “in the business” for a long time. If you want more secrets, hit me up at email@example.com. If you are looking for information on creating and selling merchandise, there are more sources, like Variety, Billboard MBW, Rolling Stone, and of course Gooten!
Want to learn more from Dale?
Join him in our webinar this Thursday, 2/25 at 1 pm EST with Gooten's CMO Mark Kapczynski where they’ll be discussing what a next-gen merch supply chain looks like.RSVP here