WWE Puts Fanatics in Charge of Event Merchandising


WWE has expanded its partnership with Fanatics, giving the sports retailer control of events merchandising.

That means that Fanatics Commerce — the company’s eCommerce, licensed merchandise and physical retail operations business — will manage on-site retail sales for all of the WWE’s 300-plus wrestling events each year, the company said in a Tuesday (April 18) news release.

“Fanatics has been an amazing partner and will immediately bolster WWE’s event retail business,” said Alex Varga, WWE senior vice president and head of corporate development. “Expanding our partnership will allow WWE to further expand our offering to fans and grow merchandise revenue in 2023 and beyond.”

Fanatics and WWE first began collaborating last year on an eCommerce partnership that eventually grew to encompass licensed merchandise, memorabilia and collectibles.

With this new partnership, the companies said, Fanatics will work with WWE teams who have spent decades running retail operations for events like Wrestlemani and SummerSlam.

“This includes curating an enhanced in-venue product offering with more localized merchandise collections, creating innovative event retail stores and experiences, as well as utilizing Fanatics-operated team stores during various live events,” the release said.

The partnership is the latest in a series of milestones for Fanatics, which was valued last year at $31 billion, an amount that — as noted here — puts it in the upper half of the S&P 500.

“Fanatics expansion from hats to scores of categories and markets is a lesson in cross-pollination,” PYMNTS wrote. “It is also proof that the connected economy is thriving.”

The company’s ventures into new categories beyond its origins illustrate how “digital channels can be used to create adjacent use cases,” per our report. It’s a trend highlighted in the PYMNTS report “How the World Does Digital: The Impact of Payments on Digital Transformation.”

That publication surveyed the digital transformation of roughly 15,000 consumers in 11 countries that made up half the global GDP and found that consumers were “ready, willing and able to take part in the connected economy that includes any number of transactional and non-transactional activities,” PYMNTS wrote.

More recently, Fanatics entered the world of livestream shopping, hiring Google and Snap veteran Nick Bell as chief executive of the new venture.

“Fanatics Live will focus on transforming the digital shopping experience through personality and content-driven live commerce, aka livestream shopping,” Bell wrote on LinkedIn.

Fanatics Live is set to launch in the second half of this year, providing consumers with a digital shopping experience that lets them purchase collectibles such as trading cards.

“All collectors are fans, but not all fans are collectors,” Bell told CNBC in February. “We have a big opportunity to really grow the hobby by bringing in people who wouldn’t necessarily classify themselves as a collector today and open them up to this hobby by the way of entertainment and a community where they can hang around like-minded people.”

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