How can retailers cope with World Cup fever?

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By Craig Smith, Vice President of customer success, Amplience

The World Cup is possibly the biggest retail opportunity posed by a sporting event since, well, the last World Cup. As national excitement reaches a fever pitch, retailers need to keep a cool head and manage changing customer demands that can seem as fickle and mysterious as the referee’s decisions. The only way to create winning content that scores with customers is to deliver campaigns that harmonise with their personal experiences of the game. To do this it is crucial that retailers move towards understanding their customers and leverage a new breed of content that can integrate in real time with automation and personalisation capabilities.

One of the key challenges of any World Cup campaign is that the beautiful game can be unpredictable. In a tournament where anything could happen, retailers need to be prepared for any result – Korea’s 2-0 victory in the group stage has already shown us that. At home, the elimination of Germany has lifted the hopes of England supporters, and consumer spending can be expected to track this uplifting trend. Everyone loves an underdog story, but when the improbable happens how can retailers pivot to reflect the crowd’s mood?

With a solution that harmonises product suggestions and content personalisation, retailers are now able to respond to even the biggest shocks of any match with a customer journey tailored to the situation. With the margins in sectors such as food and drinkbeing so low, stock can’t be left waiting in the warehouse until the Wimbledon final! Rather, retailers must strike while the iron is hot and be able to generate content for promotions that means priority stock can be offered to consumers while the opportunityexists.

Placing their bets on an expected result could be a significantmistake for retailers. Instead, they should be prepared for any eventuality – even, dare we hope, an England win. Having multiple streams of content prepared to respond to any score or elimination is vital to tapping into the spirit of the game. Whether it is to celebrate or commiserate with them, brands should aim to be engaging with their football-mad customers in the heat of the moment, not after the fact.

This means that the deployment of content must now be faster than ever to keep up with customers’ digital demands, not just the pace of the game. Automation technologies are now empowering retailers to prepare contingency plans and multiple campaigns far in advance. The chance to generate a variety of possible outcomes means retailers can tap into more and more specific occurrences. Sportswear brands, for example, should not just be promoting England kits on match day, but the shirt of the best performing player needs to be centre stage in the immediate match aftermath.

But it’s not just about what a snap moment makes customers feel – retailers also need to find them wherever they are watching. Automation also allows retailers to generate content which can be fitted into all the channels and formats where they find their customers, from social channels to website and mobile to desktop. The rise of omnichannel customers ups the pressure for retailers to integrate their content campaigns to give customers a consistent and seamless experience at every touchpoint with a brand.

Whether on the sofa during halftime or at a post-match BBQ, at this time of the year consumers will be more reliant than usual on mobile devices to purchase items. On a 5-inch screen space is at a premium, and customers are looking to find the item they want in the 30 seconds before kick-off. The increase in purchases of seasonal buys compounds the issue as customers are less likely to be familiar with the range available of products they are looking for.

The pressure is on for retailers to provide product information as clearly and succinctly as possible – no fan wants to miss a goal because they were scrolling through product information to check they were buying the right size pack of snacks. By injecting the information customers need into the visual assets that catch their eyes, brands can ensure that a customer purchases the right product every time, reducing the risk of own goals such as basket abandonment.

The challenge posed to retailers during World Cup campaigns is clear – unifying content that strikes in the heat of the moment with preparedness that creates a smooth and convenient journey to purchase seasonal items. Leveraging these opportunities is key to capitalising on the free spending habits brought about by warmer weather and a shot at the Cup for England. But while the unpredictability of the game might be its greatest appeal, this should not extend to the production and distribution of content. Brands need to think strategically in advance before activating their match day game plan – or they risk hanging World Cup success in a penalty shoot-out of belated promotions after the real players have already won.