Are football clubs overlooking key factors when updating their websites?

When planning a football club's digital strategy, don’t overlook what’s required in a modern solution. A club's retail strategy should be an overall retail strategy and no longer just a digital one.

Are football clubs overlooking key factors when updating their websites that can ultimately impede success?

You understand the importance of fan engagement and that to achieve commercial growth, the club must develop its brand, extend its global reach and open up new revenue streams. Your very basic strategy checklist is probably going to look something like this:

  • Research and select a digital agency
  • Build an eCommerce channel
  • Build an information channel for fans to access data
  • Build a Fan App

Historically this was enough, however, today’s fans are heavily influenced by, and have come to expect, the same level of service offered by High Street retailers and internet leaders. A consistent retail experience likened to these is now paramount. The good news is that it’s achievable, affordable and retrofittable.

Deliver a consistent retail experience across all channels

It’s important that a club delivers a consistent retail experience across all channels. Fans interact with their club in many ways and although fans rank as one of the most loyal customer types, they do have expectations, expectations set by today’s High Street and online retail giants. Fans ideally want to buy direct from their club but if the offer is inconsistent across channels, or the customer service is not up-to-scratch then Amazon and eBay, platforms familiar to the consumer and renowned for deals, steal the sale.

Disjointed information can cause confusion which inevitably delays, or at worst impedes, a successful transaction. We are the ‘now’ generation - we get the information we need about anything at any time, news, movies, facts, all beamed and streamed to a plethora of devices that we carry and interact with on a daily basis. We are also the ‘impatient’ generation - when we decide to buy, what we want should be easily found, checkout should be quick and simple with clear and consistent messages, and we expect to receive delivery on time and as advertised. Mistakes will not be tolerated.

The website is a connection to the club's fans and when developed correctly a club can reach its fans 24/7. There is no doubt that when it comes to increasing club revenue and fan engagement, huge emphasis should be put into getting the club's website right. However, focusing entirely on the website, it’s easy to overlook fundamental behind-the-scenes functions that are required to manage demand and provide the ever so important customer service that is expected, and at the end of the day, it’s customer service that builds brands.

Delivering continuity is increasingly more important

It’s a modern misconception that a website is far more important than the clubs retail system. The thinking is that a website will bring in sales revenue whereas any till system will allow me to sell my stock at the club. Historically this is probably true, but today having the correct retail infrastructure across the entire club to cope with demand and deliver continuity is increasingly more important if a website is to reach its full potential.

At the heart of the retail platform is the inventory, an accurate inventory is fundamental to providing good customer service. A central hub to maintain products, offers, kit launches and pricing is essential for channel consistency. Without the correct infrastructure in place a club's offer can appear confusing and disjointed with inaccurate product availability, inconsistent pricing and conflicting messages. The retail system must connect all channels and feed live stock information throughout the club to minimise stock-outs and oversell. Fulfilment can have a massive impact on customer service and failure to establish a solid fulfilment strategy can let down loyal fans all too often. Not only does the retail platform power the website and retail stores, it records invaluable purchase data from all connected channels ready for analysis and marketing. Access to this data and having the ability to feed this directly to a sports marketing agency is also hugely important as part of a modern strategy.

It's no longer a digital strategy

The retail landscape has changed and how fans shop is changing, it's now increasingly important for clubs to understand that in order to maximise the investment in a website, the correct infrastructure throughout the club is required and a clubs retail strategy should be an overall retail strategy and no longer just a digital one.

For more information on retail strategies and building the correct retail infrastructure to maximise club revenue, read about the TRIMS Retail Platform.

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