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May 19, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 1:21pm

5 ways to increase online sales during the FIFA World Cup

The football World Cup 2014 is an open goal for sales you simply can’t afford to miss.

By Duncan Macrae

There’s not long to go before the first whistle sounds at World Cup 2014 in Brazil on June 12, and online retailers are among those hoping that the global soccer event will again spawn additional lucrative business.

With a huge range of products on offer, from large-screen TVs through branded food products to fan merchandise of all kinds in national colours, there are endless opportunities for impulse shopping.

As successful as e-commerce was during the last World Cup in 2010, the global spread of smartphones in the meantime means that mobile commerce is likely to be responsible for a major share of transactions this year.

Here, Volker John, VP sales DACH at Intershop, a provider of omni-channel e-commerce solutions, shares his last-minute tips for boosting your mobile commerce strategy during the World Cup.

1. Keep control of the ball

What goes for professional sports goes for e-commerce too: Nothing works without preparation. When selling via tablets and the like, a clear game plan is crucial. A well-structured homepage optimized for mobile commerce, a clean category structure, and touch-friendly buttons are essential. If this is your weak spot, you’re already offside. And as for implementations of technical shops, if you want to play up front, you need to be equipped for the mad rush. What’s more, if you want to encourage smartphone users to make a purchase, you should ensure that fast loading times are possible even at peak capacity usage.

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2. Open goals and assists for World Cup fans

Major sports events often trigger runs on very specific products. Popular World Cup top sellers include not only fan merchandise in national colours but also anything that fans might need for a good evening of soccer at home with friends. Seeing as most of the matches this year will start at 9 p.m. UK time, a cookout with friends would be a good way to kick off the evening. But what happens if the match is about to begin, and neither charcoal nor table decorations are anywhere to be found? This is a good opportunity for online retailers who can display the availability of their products online and offer a reservation function for them. Anyone who also offers sought-after items can reach unprecedented hit rates once the World Cup really heats up. For example, smartphone users who love last-minute parties can check quickly from the office what they can get where and save needless running around by using the in-store pick-up model. They may even be able to add some colour to their evening with a few additional party supplies — regardless of the outcome of the match.

3. Room for team players and mavericks alike

Statistics of recent years have shown that the traffic in online stores nosedives during major matches. So anyone who puts their money on special promotions during the last sixteen, eight and semi-finals should know that in the sports merchandise business, it’s best not to get going during the advanced stages of the tournament, when the top matches drive soccer shop hit rates into the ground. On the other hand, there are people who are not interested in soccer, and are therefore particularly receptive to special offers, entertainment and shopping inspiration. That spells a win for anyone who can appeal individually to their customers and perhaps also run offers that deliberately avoid the ever-present championship hype.


4. Second screen: smartphones and tablets

Even when the match is on, there are smart ways of using mobile devices. Fans post their frustration or joy on the social networks that these devices provide access to. During the Super Bowl, a U.S. insurance company saved about 30% of its advertising costs by booking the slot for the first TV spot after the game. Because saving on insurance is part of the provider’s business model, it promptly passed its savings on by holding a prize draw for the USD 1.5 million it saved. To enter, tweeters had to tweet a certain hashtag within three days of the game. This in turn opened new vistas for the company. Smart social media campaigns can bring in a host of additional buyers.

5. Open up the field with surprising moves

As we know, life is a game. And here’s another insight into gamification and mobile commerce: Soccer fans don’t like making major purchases during matches. Still, the high emotion prompted by major sports events offers an ideal opportunity to send up small technological trial balloons or promote new technology in a targeted way. Try simply combining coupons on branded products with discounts in your web shop or mobile payment at an express checkout during half-time. Contests involving selfies with the company’s own fan merchandise could also prove to be a hit — when it comes to creativity, the sky’s the limit.


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