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Miami Heat slam dunks sales via mobile wallet and ticketing

Miami Heat is enhancing the fan experience by updating its application with commerce-friendly features such as ticketing and purchasing within an in-app wallet, proving that sports teams have major opportunities to score sales via mobile.

The team is introducing the revamped app as the National Basketball Association season prepares to kick off. The “smart app,” designed in collaboration with SapientNitro, will also offer customized material for each fan based on his or her location, as well as factors such as game day or non-game day circumstances.

“[Including a mobile commerce aspect] was critical,” said Joey Wilson, vice president, business lead of SapientNitro, Miami. “We considered it a lynchpin feature all along.

“The team at the Heat had always considered this one of the things that was paramount, even up there with content creation, just simply due to the potential impact on sales.”

A digital ecosystem
Miami Heat sought to develop more than simply a venue app by creating a platform for sports enthusiasts that encompasses all the game-oriented services they might want or need. Fans may now have a true interactive experience that will augment their basketball viewing, while the team enjoys an uptick in sales, thanks to the new mobile commerce tools.

Users will be able to control all purchasing and ticketing capabilities with their smartphones. Guests visiting Miami’s American Airlines arena may enter into seamless transactions as they move about the stadium.

If a fan wants to buy a beverage or snack during a game break, he or she can visit a concession stand, select the order and pay via a smartphone. This feature will be especially useful during peak game times, as it will prevent unmanageable hordes of individuals from causing long lines at stands.

Consumers who are concerned about not missing a second of the action can quickly retrieve their purchased food or drink and get back to their seats, resulting in a streamlined process for everyone, including the merchants.

Those who purchase snacks inside the arena will also be eligible to receive “Arena Bucks,” part of the Heat’s new rewards program. Fans that use their in-app mobile wallet to buy merchandise or food on Opening Night or during any game in the month of November will be awarded double rewards points for their purchases.

To use the mobile wallet function, guests must create an account beforehand and register their debit or credit cards.

Mobile ticketing has also been added into the updated app, enabling visitors to show their digital tickets for entry into the stadium instead of printing out paper copies. Consumers may also purchase, re-sell or transfer ownership of previously-purchased game tickets, a move that could snatch some business away from ticketing hubs such as SeatGeek or StubHub.

Miami Heat is not the only sports team to recognize mobile’s ability to significantly affect on-premises sales.

This past August, Cleveland Cavaliers fans were also able to use their smartphones to purchase drinks, food and merchandise directly from their stadium seats while watching the 2015 National Basketball Association Playoffs and Finals, proving that in-seat mobile ordering is a must-have feature for sports arenas (see story).

Meanwhile, last November, American Express and the Brooklyn Nets teamed up to participate in a pilot program powered by Brooklyn eWallet that allowed consumers to use their mobile devices to purchase food and drinks from their seats at Barclays Center events (see story).

Customized content
When users open the new Heat app for the first time, they will receive a prompt asking them to choose their “FanType,” which will personalize the content they see. Available “FanTypes” include a focus on advanced game statistics, a combination of off-court and on-court information and an aggregated social media and photo newsfeed.

If fans feel like their app experiences have been curated to their preferences, they may be more inspired to purchase future game tickets within the app.

Additionally, the new Heat Stream feature offers a comprehensive glance at the franchise, containing pertinent material such as video content, news, scores and schedules, trivia, trending social media posts and contests. The game clock and score will be on display at all times, regardless of the user’s location.

“If there’s something that I’d point to and say this is going to generate a lot of traction, I think it’s the mobile ticketing,” Mr. Wilson said. “I think it could shut down the secondary ticket market for the Heat.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York