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SD Huesca: A digital transformation strategy which is reaping rewards

SD Huesca, a club who currently plays in the top division of Spain, have been working on a global digital transformation strategy for the past few years in an effort to increase the club’s sustainability.

The club have begun various modernisation processes which allows them to grow globally and streamline their operations.

SD Huesca manager Luis Sanclemente explained that technological advancement is one of the club’s main priorities.

“We’ve had a digital transformation strategy that started in 2017 and it has various objectives,” he told the La Liga Newsletter.

“As well as digitally transforming the business internally and making things easier for fans and commercial partners, we’re targeting a zero-paper policy and, as far as it’s possible, the automation of internal processes.”

To support its transformation process, the club works with various apps, from those developed by in-house platforms to those developed by third parties.

Internally, the club has established a digital file tracker that monitors documents that pass through the club via a dashboard, while keeping track of all projects in progress using an open-source software.

That software has also been used to setup the structure of its online store, digital archive and fan club app.

“We then use third-party apps for some core elements to do with our internal processes,” Sanclemente added.

“We use SAGE that helps us in everything to do with accounting and invoicing, for example. We also use the classic social media apps as well as the Docuten supplier portal and e-signature platform.”

The club looks to receive all invoices electronically with this supplier portal, either through a PDF format that can be processed through an OCR system, or via other formats such as ‘Facturae’. This allows the club to sign all types of documents digitally.

“We’re starting to incorporate the signatures of players and employees and we’re talking about having everything on the e-signature platform in the next four months,” Sanclemente stated.

The club’s overall goal is to reduce the use of paper and processes that will improve their environmental footprint. The digitalisation of administrative processes is key to reaching this objective.

“Six months ago, almost all invoices were paper,” Sanclemente revealed.

“However, we have already reached a point where 95% of invoices are sent to us electronically, which saves money in postage and storage. We have 250 signed documents that were previously paper, some of them long labour contracts that can be 50 pages long.”

While SD Huesca’s digital transformation process has already brought benefits in various areas like HR, administration and purchasing, it has also increased its commercial growth.

Josan Oliva, manager of the club’s digital department, explained: “We’re working more and more with suppliers and partners who offer technological solutions. We’ve found a commercialisation channel for assets that we wouldn’t have been able to access if we didn’t have the technological portfolio that we now have.”

As part of its collaboration with La Liga, the club continues to work on ways to use technology to directly impact the fan experience.

“We were one of the first clubs to enter the data-driven programme from LaLiga, which has an objective is to integrate all the processes related to fans, season tickets, matchday tickets and marketing into digital platforms,” Oliva said.

SD Huesca is anticipating a more fluid experience when fans eventually return to their home stadium.

“Last year, we requested an upgrade for the turnstiles so that fans could enter with NFC technology, as well as their mobile phone or their season ticket card,” Oliva said. “We want entry into the stadium to be even simpler.”

“(On the day) Tickets are bought through the online ticket section of the website and the process is automatic, as we no longer gave paper tickets. Instead, we send the buyer a PDF with a QR code that can be used to enter the stadium.”

Other digital initiatives have been vital in connecting with fans of the club, wherever they may be in the world.

“In the spring we were the first club to join with LaLiga and use the Salesforce marketing cloud for newsletters,” Oliva said.

“An important part of our relationship with the fans is the new SD Huesca Fan Club, where there will be a high degree of implementation of digital activities and content.”

Sanclemente, in conclusion, believes the digital strategy organised is necessary to survive in the modern football market.

“It is very important to keep bringing technology into football,” he stated.

“We see that some public administrations in Spain have a high level of digitization in many of their processes and we believe this gives a good reference to football clubs when it comes to modernising their administration.”

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Dig Inclusion makes digital access available for everyone 

For stadiums around the world, infrastructure has been created to cater for people with disabilities, however access to club websites and apps cannot be overlooked. 

In the past, stadiums had been designed so people with disability can still access the venues. As we know with COVID outbreaks, attention has now shifted towards how we get these people into the grounds by using apps and in particular to scan a QR code for contact tracing. 

As we have seen in 2021, the QR system has become a mandatory tool, while at the same time we have seen the need to go with virtual tickets, rather than the printed out copies we had always been accustomed to. 

For clubs and stadiums, they want to ensure that fan experience is at the optimal level, so that means they have to assess the accessibility for disabled people and ways for them to have entry to venues without an enormous amount of hassle. 

This is where Dig Inclusion can help. They are a digital accessibility service who ensures that football club websites and apps are equally available for everyone. 

For clubs, they should be asking themselves whether disabled fans have the same opportunity to buy tickets online as everybody else, while the other consideration should be if news feeds, match statistics, websites and apps are as user friendly as they need to be. 

For digital accessibility, Dig Inclusion takes into account people who are colour blind, dyslexic or have cognitive impairments (including people living with dementia). Through a club’s website or app design process – from the use of font, to language, to colour contrast – are all highly important so nobody feels overwhelmed when accessing a club’s resource. 

For example, if a disabled fan wants to buy some club merchandise, then they will have the same opportunity to browse and make that purchase just like any other person would, with tailored options available to assist anyone who needs it. 

When teams partner with Dig Inclusion, they are there for every step of the way, from accessible testing, research and strategy, to accessible development and content creation, and finally a check on websites, mobile apps, PDF documents and ebooks among some of the benefits. 

All of Dig Inclusion’s services are designed to help clubs keep pace in a rapidly changing digital age: 

Accessible design review: To highlight visual aspects of a design that need to be checked for accessibility, such as colour contrast and positioning. This looks at common accessibility pitfalls and turns this into what would be the ultimate experience for all customers. 

Accessibility help desk: Advice and support from someone who understands the company and what they do, offering fast response times and specialist knowledge for any stucks in the digital accessibility process. 

Mobile accessibility: Helping to get the most out of tablet and smartphone users, with those devices more often used than desktop or laptop. This is very important for disabled or elderly fans who would like to use mobile technology. 

Web accessibility: Advising organisations about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in an easy-to-understand manner, as design agencies and web developers may find it difficult to grasp or keep pace with updates as they become available. 

Disabled user testing: It’s not only digital content meeting accessibility guidelines that is important, but also making sure that the experience of a disabled person using a product is a good one. 

PDF accessibility: Accessibility guidelines are not just designed for webpages, but anything that a customer downloads is also included. Dig Inclusion can produce PDF documents that go alongside WCAG with equal access as a typical website. 

Video accessibility: When businesses make advertising material, they can be supported with transcripts, captions, subtitles, or audio descriptions that they probably would have not used before on their own. 

Ebook accessibility: Tablets have been a valuable way for people to virtually read books and other publications. An accessible ebook gives all readers instant access to fit their needs, regardless of print disability. 

Dig Inclusion provides ways for clubs to navigate the challenges associated with building an app or website for equal opportunities. To learn more on Dig Inclusion, you can find it here. 

Swan Retail: Promoting clubs through powerful app 

Swan Retail’s software development has seen the creation of FUSE – an app that has all the best fan engagement features in the one place. 

It’s been a mixed bag for Australian audiences wanting to go to live sporting events, as lockdowns and restrictions have not always gone in our favour. 

For sport clubs, they have become more reliant on finding ways to engage with their fan bases via digital, as the typical match day inclusions do not always go to plan, with unpredictable Covid-19 changes. However, what is for certain is that clubs cannot be stopped in exploring ways to promote their team in a variety of ways. 

Swan Retail has identified the demand for digital and online resources, where they have taken their expertise into the sports & stadium area. 25 years’ worth of experience has lended itself towards furniture & homeware, fashion and specialty retail to name a few. 

Swan Retails app, FUSE, encapsulates that a club is searching for when it comes to fan engagement. It is completely branded to suit a club’s identity and includes an immerse news feed to create engaging content that you would see on a social media platform. The only difference here is that the app takes everything from a club and showcases that directly to a fan, rather than trapping it in amongst other competitors.

When a fan uses FUSE, their sole focus is on the team they support. FUSE is the application that integrates quality engagement, offering clubs the chance to interact with their fans, build their brand, reward loyalty and drive sales. 

Available on the App Store and Google Play, FUSE has a host of features to maximise marketing potential: 

  • Build and theme a business app. 
  • Clubs can customise their branding. 
  • Scale up only when clubs need to. 
  • Deploy to iOS & Android. 
  • Potential to be live within four weeks. 
  • Deliver engaging content through the app feed. 
  • Segment, target and deliver content based on purchase data. 
  • Display real-time loyalty points and loyalty account balances. 
  • Wrap and enhance a mobile website. 
  • Harness the power of push notifications. 
  • Drive footfall, sales, traffic and conversion. 

FUSE can bring fan engagement benefits that are developed around loyalty. To build and sustain a fan base, Swan Retail helps to bring promotions to life. The app provides the go-to resource for planning and delivering promotional campaigns, leading to an increased rate of revenue. 

Clubs can bring across their creativity and connect with fans in a more personalised manner, whether it be game day or to provide greater access off the pitch. Swan Retail have partnered with Warrington Wolves Rugby Club, Ipswich Town Football Club and Stoke City Football Club who have already seen the following benefits: 

  • News, events, polls and promotions form the pivotal part of FUSE, making content the app’s bread and butter. This can be implemented further by integrating an online shop, which can be a post of a goal celebration during the match with a promotion applied to the player’s kit. 
  • Push notifications as a regularity can consistently bring fans to the app once they have been informed of new content, rewards and timely promotions that all contribute to driving sales. 
  • Loyalty points can be accrued to make fans feel part of something special and to be rewarded for their support. 
  • A website within the app to collaborate a fans’ online experience by seamlessly allowing them to browse and buy from a store without leaving the app. 
  • Calls-to-action as a way of offering new products such as kit releases and the ability to use redeem promotions and use rewards points. 
  • Custom forms can be created as a crowdsourcing tool to get feedback and insights from the people that make the club tick and learn more about how to maximise profits. 

To learn more about Swan Retail, and to have a read of their case studies, you can find it here. 

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