Physical drives digital: keys to global ecommerce success

On Day 2 of Retail (R)Evolution, Joe Nardolilli of IRONMAN and Kevin Moore of WWE explained how their organizations tie-in person events to global ecommerce sales.

Wed May 16 11:19:00 EDT 2018


IRONMAN and WWE are both organizations with passionate consumers and growing global businesses, and both use in-person experiences to drive global online shopping results. On Day 2 of Retail (R)Evolution 2018, Joe Nardolilli, Director of Global ecommerce at IRONMAN, and Kevin Moore, Senior Vice President of E-Commerce & Venue Merchandise at WWE, explained how their organizations use promotions and marketing to tie-in person events to ecommerce sales.

Moderator Sam Coiro opened the presentation by polling the audience on several questions.

  • Who has purchased merchandise at events?
  • Who has purchased merchandise online after events?
  • Why did you buy the item? Nostalgia? To brag to friends or family? Because it fit your style?

While almost everyone purchased event merchandise at the actual event, about 70 percent of the audience had purchased event merchandise online after the event.

This introductory polling set the stage for the panel discussion on how these iconic organizations have used their many in-person events, together totaling almost 900 events annually, to grow their ecommerce sales globally.

Joe explained the IRONMAN brand and the many events conducted annually and across the globe, which include one-day events, weekend events, triathlons, cycling, mountain biking, running, and more. The IRONMAN brand is not built on producing these many events, but rather on producing life-changing experiences for passionate athletic individuals and families.

Kevin explained that WWE has been around for over 50 years, now broadcasts in more than 180 countries and in more than 20 different languages. Since Day 1, WWE has used the classic “Good vs. Evil” story to provide an endless stream of entertainment to the world.

One key factor that applies specifically to both of these companies is that there is not a vast difference in the profiles of their domestic and international customers. The demographics are very similar between the local and global sets of customers, which has allowed both companies to grow broadly without too much specialized focus on localization.

Another key factor that has allowed these brands to achieve global success is their focus on targeting families as opposed to individual adults. WWE has become a PG-TV brand and over 40 percent of event attendees bring their children along for the experience. IRONMAN conducts events like IRONGIRL, IRONKIDS, and the Rock and Roll Marathon Weekend to appeal to entire families across the globe.

Both IRONMAN and WWE have had a global audience for decades but found themselves facing challenges in getting products to their international customer base before partnering with Pitney Bowes for their cross-border ecommerce solutions. Both companies are effectively able to support athletes and fans globally with a similar experience to consumers worldwide.

Prior to partnering with Pitney Bowes, WWE shipped internationally but was unable to estimate and guarantee duty and tax costs at the time of purchase, resulting in a high number of refused items and an overall bad experience when buyers were asked to pay D&T upon delivery. The Pitney Bowes Borderfree solution not only solved this problem by providing guaranteed fully-landed costs quotes inclusive of duty and tax upfront, but also enabled WWE to support multiple currencies and languages in their global checkout process.

Kevin highlighted an in-person event in Saudi Arabia held in April. Based on the company’s efforts to direct attendees to their global ecommerce sites, in addition to a significant increase in site traffic due to that, online merchandise revenue increased by over 375 percent in Saudi Arabia due to this single event.

Sam concluded that the physical event itself ends up acting as a conduit to the online ecosystem that comes into play after the event in the form of merchandise sales globally.

Joe at IRONMAN mentioned the company has started directing event participants to their ecommerce sites at the event. They encourage athletes to order merchandise online for home delivery, rather than buying in-person and having to travel back home with their purchases. This strategy leads to greater potential order sizes. IRONMAN is also working toward a solution that facilitates the purchase process by allowing event participants to scan item SKUs to make mobile purchases that will be delivered to their homes.

Kevin went on to describe innovations made to try to make the buyer transition from in-person to ecommerce as seamless as possible. He described WWE’s 550 stores open one-day a year as a “traveling circus” that is more optimized by the introduction of WWE Shop Express, allowing customers to order online and pickup merchandise at the event itself. This provides significant convenience to the buyer while helping to maximize throughput at the event stands.

The company is also looking at ways to integrate event ticket purchases with merchandise purchases, limiting the number of transactions the buyer must go through in order to get what they want.

There were several key takeaways from this session:

·        Continuous advances in technology have obviously helped both WWE and IRONMAN to grow their global ecommerce sales through in-person events, and companies who operate in similar environments where they have global reach with limited localization can certainly learn from these innovations that have produced real results for these iconic brands.

·        The future for both WWE and IRONMAN will involve continued focus on generating an easier track to purchase by using ecommerce to continuously intertwine the digital with the physical.

·        As a piece of advice, other retailers should start thinking about how you can collaborate with commentary brands and come up with pop-up events. Also follow the lead from some of the industry leaders; for example, the Amazon Treasure Truck has brought a physical element to an entirely online company, showing that even if you are 100 percent virtual or online, you can create other opportunities to go offline and take advantage of selling at events. Additionally, any kind of exclusive merchandise for an event will go a long way.

Sam closed out the session by referencing one of the recurring themes of this Retail (R)evolution event: “How will you be remembered?” He asked the audience to “remember yourselves as champions of the world” and stated that “We are all champions in this room!” as he held up a WWE championship belt!

In the competitive world of global ecommerce, it’s important to know where the industry is heading and how others retailers are reacting. Take the Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Assessment to see how you stack up with your competitors – the survey offers a side-by-side comparison between your answers and those of your peers.

Then, dive into the results from one of the biggest global ecommerce research reports of its kind. The Pitney Bowes 2017 Global Ecommerce Report surveyed more than 1,200 retailers and 12,000 consumers around the world, outlining both retailer and consumer perspectives on the global ecommerce landscape. Download the report to learn how these trends provide key growth opportunities.