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Digital in Football: Time To Reflect On Retail Performance

Mon 25th Jan 2016 | IT & Technology

The start of a new year is often the time for personal and professional reflection.

Rather embarrassingly, I may have already diverted off the 'commit to get fit' pathway but I’m still optimistic it will happen before the end of the month! I am much more buoyant, however, about the positive changes that can be affected in the workplace in the coming 12 months. 

Digital in football in 2016 presents some massive opportunities for clubs and whilst there is seldom time – certainly in January – for in-depth reflection, it is important to take time out to review the past and use it as a reference point for what will hopefully be an exciting and profitable future.

As we know, for those of you directly involved in the industry, it is merely the halfway point and it is tempting to put things in a box and get them out in the summer. But not everything can be put off until the end of the season and one such area is retail planning for 2016 and beyond.

Like all major retailers, the turn of the year will have seen commercial and retail teams within clubs analysing and scrutinising Christmas sales figures and pondering what can be done to improve performance and provide that sales uplift – however large or small.


Improving performance

The problem facing the decision-makers is the breadth of options available - how do you go about picking the one that will return the best results?

The good news is you don't necessarily have to start thinking about re-inventing the wheel.  As long as your existing technology is in good working order and you are prepared to adopt some mainstream techniques (e.g. click and collect) it may just require a concentrated effort on what your fans actually want. 

My belief is that on-going engagement is the single most successful route to repeat purchases and increased loyalty. At Rippleffect, a huge chunk of our strategic work is focused on providing clubs with the knowledge and expertise to manage and run campaigns that are proven to work in the retail environment.

One of our most high profile football clients saw a 26% increase in traffic to their retail site purely as a result of a digital campaign that was focused on giving fans the ability to participle and persuading them to shout loudly about their support.

One word of caution, however, is that digital engagement campaigns must be rooted with purpose and fit into wider business objectives. So, whilst they are fun and great to get involved with, if they don't tick your retail rationale, move on to the next priority or idea.


Digital transformation

A more drastic, and perhaps daunting, approach is the complete digital transformation of your online retail offering to provide a multi-channel experience. It will probably provide the answer to years and years of lost sales if you take a long-term view.

There is little doubt you will see a spike in sales whenever anything new comes online but a true measure of success is what happens in the 12 month period immediately afterwards. It’s no surprise that once you have the right technology in place, it then comes down to ensuring the right engagement and acquisition strategies are being implemented. This is a sure-fire way to ensuring conversion and sales levels are maintained long past launch.

So, as you are pondering your next move in this space - whether it is enhanced marketing activities or the introduction of new technology, my own view is that as long as football continues to consider retail as retail - as it has started to do in recent years - then January in future years may become more of a time for celebration than solely reflection.

Mark Rowan is a sports consultant at Rippleffect, a digital agency with over 13 years' experience in football. Mark previously headed up media, communications and digital at Everton Football Club.

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