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Comment - How to score online during the World Cup

So the 2010 World Cup is well underway, and seemingly every sports retailer on the planet is looking to muscle in on the claim that they are the force to be reckoned with in the footballing world. By Steve Davis


Comment - How to score online during the World Cup

So the 2010 World Cup is well underway, and seemingly every sports retailer on the planet is looking to muscle in on the claim that they are the force to be reckoned with in the footballing world. By Steve Davis

Of course, this is based on the assumption that the market will see a £2.1bn sales rise, as enjoyed during the 2006 World Cup. Although marginal growth is forecast on last year, due to a flimsier economic environment and intensive competition from other retailers, no-one can afford any own goals when it comes to their sales operation. Steve Davis, European Vice President of GSI Commerce advises multichannel sports retailers how to boost sales in the increasingly competitive online sector:

World Cup or no World Cup, 60 per cent of UK consumers now conduct some kind of research online prior to making purchases in store. With pure play operators such as offering everything from vuvuzelas to Rooney shirts; it is now more important than ever to coordinate both your offline and online marketing efforts to encourage loyalty and to give sales that extra boost. Having a standardised marketing strategy across all channels and accurately measuring the impact of each will give you the bigger picture on what works best for your brand, helping you to understand how your customer prefers to research and browse products and crucially, what helps or hinders a purchase.

Link up your sales channels
Recent GSI Commerce research suggests that up to 60 percent of customers elude sales opportunities, due to loopholes in multichannel purchasing strategies. If a customer looking for a specific type of football shirt doesn’t manage to find what they’re looking for in store, there is no guarantee that they will visit your website to secure the purchase. With Google and price comparison engines at their fingertips, all they need to do is enter the product details to secure another deal.

To make sure the sale is made at store level, your employees need to be fully aware of what you stock online, when it’s available and when it’s going to become available if you’re out of stock. Imagine if you were in your local branch shopping for an item that they didn’t currently have in stock. Which response would you rather receive: a sales advisor blandly informing you that there is nothing available or a sales advisor who takes your order there and then and informs you when you can expect it in your mail? Bit of a no-brainer really…

To involve your employees further, allow them to become ambassadors for your product range on a local level. They will know better than anyone what the people of, say, Ipswich will be looking to stock up on during the intensive season of football ahead, so encourage them to spread the word to really get to grips on a micro level with each area.

Take the pain away from purchasing online

Up to 76 per cent of online shoppers have abandoned purchase mid shop, purely because of a poorly designed website, an arduous registration process or a fiddly multi page payment facility. Quite simply, if you want to profit from the countless options that World Cup shoppers have at their disposal, you need to ensure that a visit to your website is quick, painless and gratifying from start to finish.

Review your search terms on a daily basis, and never allow a customer to receive a ‘no results available’ message. If you don’t have what they’re looking for in stock, allow for redirects to similar products with a ‘suggestion’ facility. Also the World Cup is a global event, so you should not be surprised if you see increased cross-border traffic. To make the most of this, avoid appearing to be too ‘international’ at purchase point, by automatically offering customers the option to pay in the official currency of the country you’re dealing in. Shoppers do not want to have to trawl through scores of payment options during a routine shop.

So far, we’ve only explored what an online needs to do to stay afloat during the World Cup. Winning it is a completely different ball game. What our research has suggested is that ‘brand loyalty’ will lose face to a better deal in such a price sensitive market – seven out of ten online World Cup shoppers reported that where an item was equally priced in different shops, the retailer offering free delivery won their business. When respondents were asked what would be most likely to provoke an impulse purchase, thirty-eight per cent of consumers quoted ‘limited time offers’, while thirty six per cent cited email promotions.

Encourage impulse purchase by stocking up on your urgent messaging (“Today only! Hurry, last chance!”)  If you stress the fact that a fantastic offer is only available for a limited period of time, then the customer is much more likely to succumb to pressure and rack up an additional purchase. Run your sales for a shorter period of time (three as opposed to five) and longer in terms of hours – all day instead of for five hours, enabling more consumers to take advantage; one-day sales have a far better chance of ‘hitting’ all customer groups than five hour sales. Sales need to be clearly advertised to customers, both before and during the sale itself, enabling that sense of urgency to be maintained.

The bottom line is, online retailers need to step up the formula they already have in order to reap rewards out of the World Cup. Tried and tested processes can get easily tired, and it is those retailers that aggressively seek opportunities to review these processes that will benefit most from this increasingly competitive sales environment and capitalise on World Cup fever.


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