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How retailers can score a hat trick this World Cup

By Craig Smith

An open goal for online retailers

The World Cup is a key seasonal opportunity for brands. Statista predicts a consumer spend of £818 million on food and drink alone during the World Cup, even if England don’t make it to the final round. With England as finalists, the stakes could be raised even higher.

Retailers in the UK have been metaphorically training for this moment for four long years, creating limited edition items, filling their warehouses and preparing their promotions. But now that the World Cup is underway, it’s time to get their content out on the field. Since all this preparation began, the game has changed. That is why having multiple strategies and modern tactics is vital to content success during the World Cup.

To capitalise on the biggest sporting event of the year, a retailer has to think like a football manager. They must analyse the competition, come up with a strategy for every eventuality and know an open goal when they see one. In short, to win the retail World Cup, brands need to go in with their own playbook.

The hat trick

1. Mix up your game

Customers have changed a great deal in the four years since the last World Cup. They are now far more likely to engage with brands online and on social media. Mobile commerce has also grown into a major contender for their spend. New features from Snapchat and Instagram mean customers expect all products they are shown to be immediately shoppable on any channel.

The same tricks used by retailers last time around won’t work twice! No longer can they depend on flashy celebrity endorsements and prime aisle space in physical stores. Their online presence must be compelling, engaging and reactive.

Customers have become truly omni-channel. They are willing to engage with brands in store, online and via mobile, but they expect a consistent, high-quality experience on each. This means that the content retailers produce – be it product images, sponsored videos or promotional banners – must be optimised for every platform.

A customer has a premier league worth of choices if a retailer’s site fails to load on their phone. To avoid losing them, brands should prioritise solutions that can quickly transcode content to the right format for the customer’s chosen device.

2. Play to your fans

Sports and athleisure brands, electronics, snacks and drinks retailers are naturally the most likely to score a hat trick during the World Cup. Customers will be more receptive to their products, and will be more likely to purchase sports kit, food and drink and perhaps even a new television to watch the game on.   

However, before a retailer dives into the special promotions, they should be confident their fans – or rather, loyal customers – will snap them up. The secret to getting this right is understanding the demographics of your customer base, and their likes and dislikes.

This may seem like common sense, but the reality is a bit more complicated. A sports retailer may be able to tell that a customer is a young male, but there’s no guarantee they actually like football. They may be a cycling enthusiast who is sick to death of hearing about football!

It’s important that brands don’t go all-in on the World Cup if it’s likely to alienate a large part of their customer base. In online terms, this means that if a customer is unlikely to be interested in football or sports, then they shouldn’t be bombarded with World Cup-related content when they land on your home page.

Customer targeting is a good way of ensuring you don’t commit a foul. While you can’t send targeted, individualised content to every single customer, collecting their data tells you a great deal about them and makes it far more likely they’ll receive content that is relevant to them.

3. Exploit every open goal

The beautiful game is also one of the most unpredictable. Optimists and pessimists may argue over England’s chances, but none know for sure who will come out on top. If retailers want to capitalise on the World Cup, then they need to be agile, adaptive and ready for the unexpected.

The worst mistake a brand can make during the World Cup is to be irrelevant. They need to watch the game closely and make sure their promotions and content match what’s happening on the pitch. There’s little return-on-investment (ROI) to be had in sending out promotional content for Lions-branded products if they have just been knocked out!

Retailers tend to stockpile relevant merchandise ahead of big sporting events and then adapt their content to shift it. The brands able to do this the fastest are the most likely to profit. If a player is wearing a piece of your kit and becomes an unexpected fan favourite, then time is of the essence to create a piece of content that features the player alongside your product.

Likewise, and as France learnt painfully against Portugal at the Euros, a solid defence is paramount. If a sponsored team is knocked out or a player given a red card, brands will want to move fast either to tone down their presence on the site or create promotional content that advertises a discount for related products.

To be relevant brands need to be fast, and their content even faster. They should seek to automate as much of their content production process as possible and focus on creating content that is ‘headless’ – easily adaptable, which can be changed quickly to keep up with every goal and every penalty.

Post-match analysis

A football manager has to constantly evolve their tactics and move with the times in order to compete with the challengers. Using outdated approaches and strategies are a sure-fire way for a country to suffer an early exit at this year’s tournament.  The same is true of retailers. The old ways no longer work. Investing in talent that understands your playbook and can put it into action in a reactive way will be key. And just like the ideal team, these technologies should think as one, managing all aspects of the customer experience seamlessly and dynamically.

To maximise their chances during the World Cup, retailers need to make sure they play an attacking game, upping their customer engagement and managing the customer journeys with agility and skill. Retailers require constant meaningful touch points with brands and products to drive them towards purchasing and prevent them from getting a red card from customers. Focusing their content attack plan on delivering a rich, responsive and seamless experience for fans, brands will fully capitalise on this summer’s action.  May the best team win.

Craig Smith, VP of Solutions and Customer Success, Amplience

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