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How Sports Organizations Can Win Big with Shoppable Content

Bleuenn LeGoffic

VP Strategy and Solutions, Accedo

May 10, 2022


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In a recent blog post, I discussed whether shoppable experiences are the future of sports monetization. It is certainly true that user behavior is changing, with particularly younger audiences moving away from traditional viewing habits. As a result, sports bodies are increasingly looking for new ways to connect with consumers that will both increase revenue and create new engagement opportunities for current and future audiences. Shoppable content first became a thing when social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest started launching ad formats that helped advertisers shorten their audiences’ path to purchase. This shift from offline to online commerce has been ongoing for quite some time, and recent figures show how popular shoppable content features have become - especially amongst younger demographics.The opportunity is multifold. Firstly, the e-commerce sector has already proven the sustainable business case that can be built upon the concept of impulse shopping.

Research shows that 90% of customers frequently end up purchasing items that they did not intend to buy and that this is often driven by emotional sentiments such as excitement or joy. Second, as long as they are smartly designed in a way that perfectly represents your portfolio, shoppable experiences have the capacity to increase customers’ engagement with your brand. And lastly, these features can have immense value for advertisers and sponsors, as it offers them a new marketplace where they can interact directly with your audience.At the end of the day, this is about taking full ownership of the user’s journey and giving him or her a seamless way to engage with your brand and content while also contributing to your revenues. So what can sports organizations learn from the way other digital platforms, such as social media, have proven the success of shoppable content?

It’s all about the brand(ed) experience

The main business KPI at play here is that of brand engagement. Can shoppable experiences make your audience interact more with your service? If so, will the increase in engagement translate to an increased willingness to buy? And most importantly, how does the behavior vary across different segments of the audience?Shoppable content might be a great business case on paper, but this does not mean enabling it will automatically lead to customers converting. As always, any experiment with new features will have to be rooted in your brand’s underlying value proposition and also serve to maintain and strengthen it over time.The focus should be on augmenting your content and strengthening your brand to ultimately create a more engaging and valuable experience for fans. Shoppable content should incentivize users to buy but it needs to be done smoothly. Do not disrupt your loyal audiences (after all, they are the ones already in your funnel and hence the most likely to convert). These experiences should be thought of as a way to strengthen the brand proposition so that customers can eventually get to a point where they will be contributing to your revenue.

Building a smart seamless shopping journey

According toresearch from Baymard Institute, almost 70% of online shopping carts are eventually abandoned. There are many reasons for this but one is certainly the fact that online customer journeys tend to become unnecessarily long and complex. Today’s customer is expecting a smooth and simple experience where the steps needed to purchase an item are as few and straightforward as possible. Shopping cart abandonment is not only an issue from a user experience perspective. Even more importantly, it presents a massive obstacle for advertisers who are spending significant amounts of money promoting their products on these platforms. Would it not be nice if there was a way to shorten the sales funnel so that it is easier (and faster) for customers to go from initial interest to conversion?For sports broadcasters, the introduction of in-video shopping experiences enables fans to select advertised assets directly on-screen, while still interacting with the content and brand. However, the transition into becoming a full-fledged e-commerce platform, managing different product lines from a variety of vendors, is likely one step too far at the early stages of this kind of experiment. Therefore, we suggest starting with a more scaled-back business model, focusing primarily on selling your own merchandise and potentially that of a few select resellers whose products are a natural fit with the experience your brand is looking to deliver.Once again, this experience needs to be on-brand and designed in a way that is native to the platform on which the content is consumed. With the introduction of digital payment methods, such as Apple and Google Pay, customers now have the option to quickly complete purchases directly on their phones; something that has played a huge part in facilitating shopping on mobile devices. A successful in-video shopping experience needs to be designed with the same underlying idea in mind. The path to purchase should be built in a way that is perfectly suited to the platform and device.

Making this experience personal

Most sports bodies have access to significant amounts of audience data and are already leveraging what they know about their fans to boost merchandise sales and promote sponsors. The same is true for how pretty much all digital platforms, including the social media giants, are using data to help advertisers deliver personalized experiences that both engage and convert users. Once you understand how customers interact with your shoppable content, the next step is to use what you know to ensure that they will return. For sports bodies, it is not enough to simply set up a virtual shop and hope that it will mimic the in-stadium experience. A digital shopping environment will never evoke the same level of thrill and excitement as an actual real-world game so you need to find other ways to keep your audience leaned-in and engaged. Making the experience personal is one way to make shoppable features both interesting and useful for your customers.If we look at the success of both social media influencers and some of the leading e-commerce platforms, it is clear that a personalized experience also is one that is supported by the right kind of content.

This is where sports bodies can take their experiment to the next level by editorializing the context of the in-video shopping experience. It is about constantly proposing new (and relevant) products and making personalized recommendations so that customers keep engaging with your content and are enticed to come back.The concept of live-video shopping may still be in its infancy but it has already been tried and tested by some of the world’s most prominent digital platforms. And consumer interest is definitely brewing - for example, a recent study by McKinsey reported that two-thirds of customers in China purchased an item via livestream in the past year.

Accedo has partnered with AWS to develop a prototype of a digital solution that enables sports organizations and broadcasters to experiment with an in-video shopping experience.The prototype was presented at the Sports Innovation 2022, taking place in Düsseldorf last week. If you would like to find out how this prototype could help you improve audience engagement and unlock new revenue streams, please get in touch.

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