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STUDY: Optimising London 2012 online

By Retail Technology | Wednesday July 31 2013

E-commerce provider reflects one year on after managing the outsourcing of London 2012 merchandise trading online over the Games period

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) needed a partner with e-commerce expertise to build and manage an online store to sell promotional merchandise for the summer London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The challenge was unique in that this was the first time there had been an online shop for a summer Olympic Games. Furthermore, the imperative for the London 2012 shop was the ability to optimise trading over the intense four-week period when the Olympic and Paralympic Games took place.

E-commerce provider eCommera was selected to manage the London 2012 online shop on behalf of LOCOG. It took responsibility for the complete project, which included everything from building the site, to selecting merchandise, setting up a dedicated warehouse operation and running daily trading. 

Debbie Bond, eCommera trading director, said: “One of the key challenges around running an events-based commerce site is that it is impossible to learn from your mistakes. You only have one chance to get things right, and then it’s over. For eCommera, that meant we had to optimise everything around a very short sales window.”

Taking a data-focused approach

To overcome this challenge, eCommera employed a data-focused approach using DynamicAction, its decision intelligence tool, which processes cross-functional data from the site, customer, product, marketing and operations and automatically recommends specific trading actions. Such trading actions are prioritised according to their ability to impact profit.

“Rather than spending time wading through reports, DynamicAction allowed us to go straight to the prioritised lists and ensure that we focused on those first and foremost. Essentially we just worked our way down that list knowing that the profit impact and the revenue impact and decision had already been made for us,” said Bond.
DynamicAction continually uncovered areas for optimisation across the site without the intervention of data analysts. The cost benefit was significant, as Bond explained: “During the peak trading periods I was able to bring in a much lower-skilled level of support for the merchandisers, rather than having to bring in highly-skilled merchandisers who were able to cope through that sort of pressure-cooker trading environment.”

The business intelligence (BI) tool allowed the trading teams to view the performance of specific marketing banners on an individual basis and monitor variations. For example, certain banners had very high levels of traffic but very low levels of conversion. The data showed that these banners were pointing customers through to pages where the products were essentially out of stock; or highlighted banners that were on trend or in the media several months ago but were no longer topical. By updating those banners on a weekly basis, conversion doubled. 

Delivering on retail promise

It also discovered that, by turning off next-day delivery, the percentage of customers that were actually completing the checkout process dropped by 2% overnight. This was monitored for two days and the trend continued so the team improved the process for managing the next-day delivery promise and then turned back on next-day delivery. This had a material impact on overall profitability and the ability to meet customers’ expectations at the same time.

The provider used DynamicAction to identify which paid search advertising was driving very high traffic, but converting on a low percentage. In some cases it was discovered that customers were bouncing from the page due to out-of-stock products. At peak Games times, products were selling out in minutes, and DynamicAction enabled eCommera to prioritise paid search and turn off paid campaigns from the moment they would no longer direct customers to a commercially-appropriate area, enabling cost savings.

Over the course of the Games, the site enjoyed 7.5 million page views across 8,000 pages and just less than 2 million searches across 7,000 products. From launch in 2009, business doubled year on year with the Opening Ceremony seeing a 3,000% increase in traffic thanks to a global TV audience of 66m.

The London 2012 shop made history as the first online store for a summer Olympic Games and closed in October 2012. Retail Technology first covered eCommera’s work with LOCOG in the January/February 2010 issue (p9). 

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