Issue #3

Logo for Horizon

"If you build it, they will come."

So goes the famous line from Field of Dreams. But in Major League Baseball's case, things are kind of backward: The audience is there, but the infrastructure isn't. Jonathan Poma explains exactly why in this month's partner editorial.

Even Major League Baseball Doesn't Get Ecommerce

By Jonathan Poma, Rocket Code Founder & CEO

We’ve all seen it—AT&T and Apple can’t survive iPhone launches, Walmart can’t survive Black Friday, Nike can’t survive online shoe releases…

It’s inevitable.

Without fail, every year, there’s a multimillion—scratch that, billion—dollar brand whose ecommerce infrastructure can’t handle it. While the disappointingly unsurprising story usually comes on the heels of BFCM (Black Friday/Cyber Monday, for those of you who don’t dig the jargon), the disaster came a bit early this year.

The Cleveland Indians had just won the American League pennant—headed to the World Series for the first time since 1997 and looking to claim their first title since 1948.

Just five months after the first NBA Championship in Cavaliers history, Cleveland fans were living a dream, with their city as the epicenter of the sports universe (minus the Browns, obviously).

Full disclosure: I’m a huge Tribe fan. The last two times I cried over sports were when I was 10 years old and the Indians lost Game 6 of the ’95 World Series to the Braves 1–0, and Wednesday, October 19, 2016, when the Indians won the pennant over the Toronto Blue Jays.

So here’s where Major League Baseball let everyone down. The Indians have a compelling story with an eager fan base. The Indians did everything on the activation side correctly. They do great on Instagram and Twitter, their email marketing is on point, and they know their customer. They pitch partial-season ticket packages with the promise of first dibs at World Series tickets, and they email their most loyal fans with “single-use passwords” to log in before the general public to purchase World Series tickets.

The Indians nailed the activation side of the ecommerce playbook. But MLB’s online ticketing infrastructure let them down.

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