100% ROI in 12 Weeks: Delivering a Custom Commerce Platform for a Multi-Purpose Arena

Executive Summary

When a new multi-purpose arena opens, it’s a big deal for everyone — local fans and their home teams, arena sponsors and administrators, and of course the suite owners, who pay a premium for the rights to luxury boxes, usually requiring them to pay in advance for events ranging from basketball games to concerts to Disney on Ice. But what happens when suite owners don’t have a need for their space for an upcoming event or see an opportunity to recoup some of their costs from an in-demand future event?

The client, a multi-purpose arena (MPA) in North America, engaged Wizeline to design and develop an innovative customer-facing digital commerce platform to enable the exchange of suites between owners and buyers while opening new revenue streams for the organization. Here’s the story of how the platform came to life and helped the customer achieve 100% ROI in just 12 weeks. 

The Search for a Truly Agile Digital Partner

The idea was simple on the surface but complex in execution: Create an online marketplace similar to StubHub or SeatGeek, but completely focused on the high-end, luxury market segment of suite owners and buyers. By building and operating the platform in-house to take control of a promising secondary market, it would also open new revenue streams through administrative fees and add-ons for suite buyers looking to take their experience to the next level.

Wizeline went through a 6-week RFP process to win the business by demonstrating that we understood the value proposition for all sides of the marketplace — from the suite owners to the individuals and corporations buying them out for special events to the business leaders responsible for increasing MPA’s revenue. We also agreed to take an agile, iterative approach, starting with vetting business value through user research, then delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) to prove it could scale in line with business goals.

Taking a Multi-Phase, Iterative Approach to Product Development

To help define and execute the customer’s vision, Wizeline took on full product strategy, design, and development functions for this project. The project was broken into three initial phases:

Phase 1: Envisioning design & technology in tandem

To fully understand what each party was looking for in the experience, Wizeline held user workshops with three key personas: suite owners, buyers, and internal MPA stakeholders. From there, Wizeline’s technology teams paired the findings of the workshops with what was feasible from a development perspective, landing on a microservices-based architecture to best support the ideal user experience. 

Phase 2: Refining the core product experience and technology stack

Wizeline set out to design and refine the core product experience. Using wireframes, user flows, and high-fidelity visual designs, the site experience was brought to life. In parallel, the site architecture and integrations were developed and wrapped into the site presentation layer. 

Notably, during this stage, Wizeline helped the customer overcome rigid technology requirements around payments that were initially specified based on organizational preferences. Wizeline took a consultative approach and proposed Stripe as the right technology solution, convincing MPA leadership through thorough research and demos that it was a better fit for the platform. 

Phase 3: Launching & iterating the MVP with a live user base

With the design stabilized and validated, Wizeline launched the MVP to a live user base to coincide with the opening of the arena, then iterated to develop version two of the platform based on performance and user feedback. During this stage, Wizeline’s Product Evolution team delivered the following enhancements:

  • Created functionality and processes for error handling, refunds, and support
  • Developed and implemented automatic reports with dashboards that helped to prioritize issues and the backlog
  • Rolled out 360° renderings of the view from each suite location to aid buyers in making a selection
  • Optimized the experience to provide more real-time transaction feedback for buyers and sellers via email and app
  • Implemented both automated and manual QA processes 
  • Set up real-time notifications for a set of interactions defined by Wizeline and the customer
  • Established an application management process and enhancement backlog
  • Delivered a Google Analytics feature that allows the business to track transactions, conversions, product performance, and understand the behavior of the site visitors
  • Enabled the customer to measure the effectiveness of sessions per ad campaign and the bounce rate that leads into an e-commerce transaction

Building a Scalable, Cloud-Native Platform

In addition to serving its own suite holders, buyers, and administrators, MPA had the foresight to develop the platform in a way that is scalable and can be licensed to other properties, events, or sports teams in need of a similar solution. Therefore, the solution had to be designed with the capacity to evolve into a multi-tenant, multi-venue platform.

The end result is a commerce platform that is a cloud-native application built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) comprised of:

  • Cloud Environments created from Terraform template. Terraform sets up each environment by demand
  • Strapi CMS running on a Docker container over the GCP Cloud Run service
  • Cloud SQL instance replicated on every instance
  • Server-Side Rendering Frontend application that uses tailor-made GraphQL endpoint

Wizeline also implemented Stripe as the basis for a full payment processing and funds distribution system complete with membership and profile management features. It was also used to provide financial health and metrics for product management.

Deploying the Right Team to Develop the Product From End to End

Throughout the engagement, Wizeline utilized a flexible staffing model leveraging various skill sets and capabilities to respond to the ever-evolving requirements of the client and its product. By working with a firm like Wizeline where product design and engineering are complementary functions, MPA was able to deliver faster results by coordinating with only one partner. The product team consisted of the following roles in varying numbers throughout the project:

  • Product lead 
  • Delivery manager
  • Technical lead and full-stack software engineers
  • UX lead and UX/UI designers
  • Technical writer
  • Business analyst

Success! Achieving 100% ROI Just 12 Weeks After Launch

After six months of envisioning, design, development, and testing, the suite marketplace successfully went live just prior to the opening of the customer’s arena. With the stadium open for business and the commerce platform launched, it took just 12 weeks for the customer to reach a 100% return on investment. This quick ROI was generated through the new revenue streams enabled by the platform: fees from suite sales coupled with the ability to recover costs from suites that would have been otherwise unused.

Not only is the platform a great story from a financial standpoint, but it also offers a best-in-class user experience, increasing customer satisfaction and generating rave reviews. Suite owners love how they have a flexible, easy-to-use tool to help them manage their investment, and buyers love the on-demand VIP access it gives them to their favorite events. 

While the platform mostly went on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, MPA and Wizeline are finally moving forward in 2021 to further optimize the platform and roll it out to a larger audience: other event centers and teams in need of an innovative suite marketplace.

Unlocking Specialized Experiences & Bespoke Marketplaces for Luxury Markets

With in-person events finding newfound luster in a post-pandemic world, the secondary market will be hotter than ever, with fans willing to pay even more to see their favorite teams, artists, and shows live after a year or more of lockdown. Plus, for suite owners and buyers, there is also the appeal of having a sectioned-off area to make the experience safer. Wizeline can help you capitalize on these trends.

For businesses serving specialized and luxury markets in any industry, you can learn from this story of how our customer maximized revenue by creating a bespoke marketplace for its high-end suites. Whether you’re looking to unload unused first-class airline seats, access to private jets, or vacant hotel suites, by working with Wizeline to build and manage a commerce platform in-house as MPA did, your business can gain an advantage by removing middlemen and offering an exceptional specialized experience for high-end clientele that is optimized for a post-COVID world.

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