Late night Olympic opportunity could be worth a Brazilian for local late night businesses

Posted: 4 August 2016
The upcoming Olympics in Rio might have been a little slow off the starting blocks but it could trigger a surge in overnight sales for online Australian retailers.

Millions of Australians are expected to brave the late night and early morning starts, many of whom will also be keeping one eye on the television and another on a smartphone while surfing the web.

International sporting events such as the Olympics and World Cup generate a bump in online sales, as couch-bound viewers juggle their attention between the TV screen and second handheld device. At the soccer World Cup earlier this year, UK retailers saw a 10% increase in online traffic and 12% increase in conversion from the opening tournament match¹.

The business bump could be even bigger this time around – with the diversity of Olympic events garnering bigger audience, a growing preference for late night online shopping and media multitasking.

According to analysts Nielsen, the peak time for researching and purchasing goods online remains between 6-10pm. However late night shopping is more prevalent in younger generations – with 43% of those aged between 25-34 most likely to shop between 8pm and 9am².  

Increasingly they’re juggling their attention between the television and mobile devices. More than two-thirds of adult shoppers watch TV and use the internet at the same time – more than 11% more than the time of the last Olympic Games.

While the athletes at Rio will be going for gold, the online Olympic shopping experience could be just a warm-up event for Australia’s online businesses increasingly moving to around the clock operations.

A large push from international customers means these companies must take an increasingly global view.  During the past two years the value of sales by Australian online businesses to overseas customers increased by 60 per cent³.

However with an increased customer base also comes an increased obligation to customer service. International shoppers expect high levels of availability, localised approach to service and around the clock outreach. 

There’s a couple of ways that local businesses can help meet this need.

  • High availability: online customers are amongst the most finicky when it comes to demanding a quick response to any questions or problems they might have. A recent study found 31 per cent of shoppers expected issues to be fixed within 24 hours of experiencing a problem, but almost a quarter (24%) expected it to be resolved within an hour 4. Many online businesses are yet equipped to deal so promptly with a query, particularly if it’s received in the middle of the night. However a new generation of cloud contact centre services are bringing down the cost of these services to increase availability.
  • Localised customer service: the Chinese online retail market could top more than $1 trillion in the coming years but most of that money will go to retailers that distinct Chinese approach to service. This includes everything from being accessible through local market channels such as Weibo and Baidu, through to customer service agents with a high cultural and language proficiency. Ideally contact centre agents should come from around the globe, ensuring they’re best placed to understand important cultural nuances.
  • Round the clock outreach:  it’s not just inbound queries that businesses need to consider.  Careful attention needs to be paid to outbound marketing, ensuring that they are taking full advantage of midnight demand. Outside of one-off events such as the Olympics and World Cup, it’s also worth keeping in mind of major holidays, shopping periods and other times that could drive overseas sales.

The Olympics is likely to be a test for many of our businesses, as well as the athletes. However the lessons learned from meeting increased, around-the-clock shopper demand is likely to present them with record setting opportunities in the future.