Top 5 Things You Can Pickpocket from e-Retailers

As a recreation professional, you may be wondering, “What does my website have to do with Amazon and eBay?” Although you probably won’t be selling billions of dollars online, you share the same strategy. Whereas Staples.com wants a website visitor to buy a printer or reserve paper for in-store pickup, you want customers to sign up for a Yoga class, buy a membership to the gym, or book the indoor soccer field for a birthday party.

Since four of the biggest e-retailers have this process down to a science, it’s time for you to steal some ideas. Check out these five website strategies you can implement today: 

1. Amazon.com: Recommended items for you

What Amazon does: Amazon makes recommendations for you based on previous purchase history, what you’ve viewed lately, and what other customers have purchased based on the product you are viewing. This allows for each visitor to have a personal experience, and it’s all driven by using data.

What you can do: Although building an automatic algorithm to rival Amazon’s may be tough, you can use this same approach. 

  1. Use data to create personalized emails – “You signed your son up for winter basketball, and now he can hone his skills with our summer basketball camps.”
  2. Add recommendations to landing pages and thank you pages – (on the thank you page:) “Thank you for signing up for Zumba. Other people who registered for this class have also signed up for spinning, Yoga, and Pilates. Click here to register.”

2. Staples.com: Reserve online, pick up in store

What Staples does: Just the other day, I reserved a Kindle on the Staples website to be picked up at the store in my town. This strategy and system allows for Staples to drive online visitors to buy and shop in their storefronts, without paying shipping or waiting for delivery.

What you can do: The Staples reservation strategy is one you could model for facility bookings.

  1. Check out Staples.com to view how reservations work.
  2. Can you generate an automatic email saying that a customer has booked the ice rink? Will you provide steps needed for filing forms, etc.? Make the reservation process simple and clear, just like Staples does.

3. Staples.com: Previous orders & rewards

What Staples does: Staples incentivizes business owners to re-purchase items through their website. When Staples customers log into their accounts, they can see previous orders like ink cartridges and buy them again easily. Also, online purchases get rewarded and can be redeemed for coupons, free shipping, and more.

What you can doYou can learn two things from this strategy. Loyal customers deserve rewards and people who have signed up for one exercise class are more willing to register again next season.

  1. When one person spends over a certain dollar amount, can your organization give the next class free or at a discount? How about if they sign up one daughter for soccer, can her younger sister get 50% off?
  2. Track purchase history and reward your customers for registering again and again.

4. eBay.com: Brokerage business model

What eBay does: eBay unites buyers and sellers by acting as the middle man/auctioneer.

What you can do: As an organization, here is one way to look at the programs you offer – essentially, you want to connect customers with instructors. Since that is the case, you could approach online program registration similarly to eBay:

  1. Include instructor bios (or links to bios) in the program description.
  2. Use customer testimonials about each class in the description.

5. Apple.com: Organization & white space 

What Apple does: Apple.com is clean, has lots of white space, is well organized, and prefers pictures to words.

What you can do: Cut down on content and menu options. Your website should feature online registration, your program guide, and a few other key things you’ve determined.

  1. Replace your online registration link with a button and surround the button with white space.
  2. Organize your website menu into categories and sub-categories (Youth sports, adult programs, facilities, etc.).
  3. Check out Arlington Parks and Recreation for a well-organized website example:

Although you have drastically different goals than Amazon or Apple, your website strategy is similar. If you can implement some of these strategies that make the biggest e-retailers successful, you’ll see the results as well.

What other massive e-retailers can you learn from? Comment below.