Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Paris Summer Games: making the most of the sales opportunities

By Tony Preedy, Managing Director of Fruugo

International sporting events often influence consumer spending due to an increased demand for affiliated merchandise or products. In some cases, shoppers even feel inspired to take up new hobbies based on whichever sporting events are televised, which often triggers a wave of online searches for sports-related equipment and clothing. Ahead of the Paris Summer Games, online retailers need to be prepared for spikes in online searches and increased product demand to ensure that they can make the most of the sales opportunities it provides. 

Sports and consumer spending 

The buzz of global sports events is often reflected in shopping habits. For example, the London 2012 Games boosted the UK sports market by approximately 10 per cent, with much of the economic growth taking place within the first week of the event.

During the Tokyo Games in 2021, online searches for affiliated t-shirts and torch replicas skyrocketed. Sports item sales also soared during the Rio 2016 Games, partially due to boxing’s popularity in the UK.

These worldwide sporting events are great sources of revenue for independent retailers because they often lead to increased spending in both domestic and international markets. For example, a UK-based retailer selling specialist sports products may discover more interest in their products overseas compared to their domestic market if international teams are performing well in that sport. 

Research conducted by social enterprise Better identified the UK’s most popular sports at the 2021 Olympic games based on online search terms. Outside of the classic ‘big four’ sports – rugby, boxing, football and golf – Better found that there was an average of 165,000 searches for mountain biking and skateboarding, 110,000 for fencing and 22,200 for volleyball. This is a potential audience for sellers to tap into.

Conversely, UK-based sellers should be capitalising on the demand in other markets. For example, a study by YouGov identified Americans’ favourite sports to watch on TV revealing that 43 percent of respondents listed swimming as their favourite event, followed by rhythmic gymnastics (39 percent), diving (36 percent) and volleyball (20 percent). 

So, UK retailers selling related products should market and sell to the US where there is existing interest, particularly when their national team’s performance causes search results to soar. 

The challenges of cross-border sales

Expanding reach to a global scale can be a means of counteracting declining domestic sales. However, there are some hurdles that retailers need to consider. 

Retailers selling internationally from their website will need to alter the languages and currencies of each product landing page so that they are appropriate for each new market they wish to sell to. This includes deciding whether to continually update prices when exchange rates shift. 

It is important that all language adjustments are uniform across the retailer’s website; from the onsite search engines and product categories to the site-wide banners and even individual product pages. 

Sellers will need to repeat this process every time a new product is added to their site. This also applies to advertising campaigns, all of which need to be localised for each region and direct the customer to the appropriate website. 

Once the website’s content is updated for each region, the checkout process needs to be able to manage intercontinental web traffic. Although there are tools and third parties which help with sellers with this, it can require a significant amount of time and investment and prove costly if it goes wrong. 

Cross-border marketplaces: simplifying international sales

Cross-border marketplaces can simplify this process for sellers. As well as supporting with all the updates required for selling in different regions, marketplaces can help sellers with taxes for each country – from VAT to shipping – saving invaluable time.  

Some cross-border marketplaces even offer regional advertising on behalf of their retailers’ products, using their algorithms to profile potential shoppers and identify opportunities to match global demand to supply. 

By working with an online marketplace, retailers benefit from the perks of a sophisticated cross-border selling strategy without the expensive digital transformation costs. Sellers can focus solely on shipping the package while the marketplace handles the rest. 

Looking ahead 

Although the Paris Summer Games will not take place for several months, retailers need to review their sales strategies fast. By listing their products on multiple marketplaces, they can boost their visibility and customer reach, increasing the opportunities for their product range to be discovered. Sellers will also be far more agile when coping with spikes in activity so that they can capitalise on every opportunity