Next generation eCommerce for the experience economy: Where Do You Stand?

The entire experience economy has been forced to transition. Many attractions and venues have faced a very challenging shift from selling mostly offline to selling up to 90% of ...

The pandemic has made some incredible changes to our industry, and innovation has been the key driver to the huge success in the experience economy, but how is your eCommerce framework in comparison to industry standards?

The Ultimate ROI Framework For eCommerce In The Experience Economy 

A crisis can often take down the old and outdated, and let's face it while parks and attractions often manage to implement new and innovative rides and exhibits, internal systems and processes often lag behind.

Theme parks and attractions are always struggling to implement the new as they are all fantastic operators and experience creators, and not so much the tech-savvy.

Similarly to when a life-changing event disrupts our lives on a personal level and forces us to grow into the next version of ourselves, organizations - their processes, their culture, their values, their vision… - must also change along with the world around them.

In times of great disruption and change, new priorities are set, values are scrutinised, and the urgency in terms of what needs to be done shifts, giving way to growth.

And that is exactly what COVID19’s outbreak has brought to the experience economy, a much-needed development up the maturity curve. 

Nevertheless, although there has been a shift up the curve, many venues are still operating far behind their potential. 

In this article we are introducing Convious’ eCommerce maturity model, as a practical framework for operators and venues within the Experience Economy to identify where they’re at, and what are the steps needed in order to advance onto the next stage. 

 

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Meet Convious' eCommerce maturity model.

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Maturity models are frameworks that help assess the maturity level in a specific domain. This particular maturity model is aimed to help you assess your venue’s eCommerce digital maturity, as well as to identify how to bridge the gap between where you currently stand and where you have the potential to be, by planning a roadmap for the future. 


 

1. Crawl

Key Identifiers:

  • Sells offline
  • Highly reliant on box office, POS, or third party resellers 
  • Digital technologies shine for their absence 

In their infancy, venues operate fully offline, relying on their box office and resellers as their main selling channels. In essence, if you are in a “crawl” stage, you are leaving a huge amount of money on the table, but even worse, leaving a mass share of your audience unattended. ‘Crawling’ is unfulfilled potential, providing very little return in terms of time and value for the amount of resources invested.

As the COVID situation has required advance booking and capacity control many attractions have moved from this pure offline environment towards an advance booking environment. Now we come out of the pandemic attractions that haven’t fully embraced the online world face the choice of going back to the offline environment or moving forward through the next level.

Not only because the interactions, money exchanges, and queues involved in selling physically through box offices is not COVID-compliant, but also because the development of the pandemic has shifted many of our behaviours online, commerce being one of the most note-worthy. 

If you want to read more about how dramatically consumer shopping behaviour has changed during the past several months, giving a boost to the rise of eCommerce, don’t miss this related article:

Navigating the wave of COVID19 2.o: Adapt to the latest shifts in buying behavior.

 

2. Walk

Key Identifiers:

  • You have a website, but it’s not optimized for conversion. 
  • The website is designed to meet demand, not maximise it
  • Sells online (but is not yet fully embracing the eCommerce model)

The “walk” stage of the eCommerce maturity model is home to those attractions that have managed to build a good brochure website which also includes an online ticket shop. However, sadly, very few are actually optimized for conversion or a satisfying user experience. The majority of attraction websites in the UK fall into this category.

Although these venues make a great effort on delighting their guests during their visit and giving them the best time possible in-venue, when it comes to their online experience, it is evident that it hasn’t been designed with their visitor top of mind.

Related read: What is eCommerce and why should venues care?

When people think about eCommerce, they usually think of an online store, but there is so much more involved in eCommerce than just selling online. 

In fact, we recently dedicated a full blog post on this topic: 10 things to get right in your venue’s eCommerce this 2021

 

So, what are some of the characteristics if you are a venue within the “walk” stage?

  • You sell tickets online (day tickets, season passes, reservations, upsells)
  • You provide your visitors with e-tickets
  • You accept online discounts and voucher codes
  • You allow upfront reservations
  • You may allow easy rescheduling and refunds
  • You have turnstile and scanner integration technologies
  • You have a POS integration

Although it is not a bad starting point, there are still a number of things that will make the difference between staying stuck in this "walk" phase or moving onto a "running" one.

3. Run

Key Identifiers:

  • Their eCommerce and online marketing are optimized through data-driven technology.
  • They embrace a direct to consumer (D2C) eCommerce model by which they can leverage the power of their own data.

 

This is where you want to be. When you’re running, it means you are actually using powerful tools, which allow you to achieve higher ROI, through the implementation of smart and automated technologies that improve your efficiency and accuracy in terms of serving your customers at every stage of their journey. 

The main key ingredient for you to be able to step into the “running” stage is leveraging the power of your own first-hand customer data in multiple areas within your organisation, from your inventory, staffing or marketing all the way up to your sales and pricing strategies (for instance, implementing A.I.-driven and automated dynamic pricing strategies).

 

For that to happen, it is crucial that you are not relying on third-party resellers to achieve volume, but rather on your own direct-to-consumer sales channels.

Related read: How going D2C can protect your brand from the pandemic.

 

Going direct-to-consumer actually allows brands within the experience economy to develop innovation-driving customer insights, influence and connect with their customers at every stage of their customer journey,  deliver highly personalized experiences, or to tap into subscription-based recurring revenue streams, just to mention a few.

Venues who are already mature enough to be thriving in this “running” stage, have put Conversion Rate Optimization at the fore-front of their strategy and are leveraging the data gathered from their customers for continuous optimization of their on-site experience.

The great thing about the running stage and embracing data-driven automation is that it’s like turning on an engine that drives continuous improvement and growth for your business. Put another way, you’ll basically be able to do things better, cheaper, and faster, and who doesn’t want that?

 

4. Fly 

Key Identifiers:

  • Next-level automation. 
  • Implementation of advanced A.I. 

Trying to find a venue deep in the “fly” stage is rare in the UK. There are not many attractions that are leveraging advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence in their venue’s strategy, although we are starting to see the industry pick up pace in that direction, particularly boosted by the pandemic’s impact.

The great news about that is that if you can level up your eCommerce and digitalization strategy towards a flying stage, you will have gained a very unique competitive advantage, through strategies such as next-level personalization, which are key conversion drivers. 

Related read: How to use next-level personalization to increase conversions

 

When you’re “flying”, you are integrating all of the areas within your venue with smart technologies that have the potential to transform the way your business operates - and therefore its results - inside out, just by taking repetitive and inefficient work out from your staff’s hands and making processes more reliable, predictable, and efficient.

 

Making Your Way Through the Attraction's eCommerce maturity model.

Each level of the eCommerce maturity model is obviously more complex than the one before it and going from one to the next takes increasingly greater investments in terms of time and money. However, you'll find that the results you get from doing so - delivering better and more convenient online experiences, higher conversions, more loyalty and return customers, operational efficiency, cheaper processes...-   are also increasingly more worth the effort, because thanks to smart automation, each stage delivers significantly more revenue than the previous one.

In the end, there is a learning curve in everything we do. We've been going through them our whole lives, and therefore we know that we have to learn to crawl before we can walk, and learn to walk before we can run.

However, flying works a little differently. The difference with going from "running" to "flying" is that flying usually requires a leap of faith. It requires some extra trust because it feels riskier.  

At Convious we are focused on empowering theme parks and attractions to create the best online and offline experiences for their visitors through a full-fledged eCommerce suite that will give them the confidence and wings to fly and reach maximum growth while staying in full control. 

If you'd like to know more about how our award-winning eCommerce software for attractions can help your venue scale up over the maturity curve, don't hesitate to reach out to our team of experts who will be glad to discuss your business goals and suggest the most optimal solution to get your venue to new heights.

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