Digital Transformation at the Ambassador Theatre Group

Client: The Ambassador Theatre Group
Objective:Improve online customer experience & build in-house capability to readily embrace digital innovation
Solution:Design and fast delivery of a highly performant & scalable e-commerce solution and improved in-house capabilities to grow

NearForm’s open source JavaScript and Node.js expertise and their ability to deliver custom solutions at speed helped to transform ATG’s customer experience and build their in-house technical capabilities to readily embrace digital innovations moving forward.

The Challenge

Every successful digital transformation begins with a vision. For the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), whose theatres including The Savoy host some of the world’s best-known shows such as The Lion King and Wicked, that vision is to become the destination of choice for customers wanting to experience live events. To achieve that goal, ATG recognised that they needed to prioritise the customer journey, first and foremost. Delivering a top-notch end-to-end user experience was identified as the crucial start, coupled with building the right culture and capabilities to transform into a sustainable digital business.   

The Response

The NearForm team worked rapidly to bring the new ATG solution to life, with a purchase flow that gave ATG far more control over the customer experience than ever before. 

Within eight weeks, they had brought the project through design, build and delivery of the MVP.  User-led design meant a laser focus on the end user outcomes and on delivering an optimum UI, one that was fast, easy and safe. Using a one-team agile approach and a proven remote model with daily stand-ups and regular sprints, accelerated delivery was achieved. 

 

“It was a very fast process, and NearForm was instrumental in that,” Malcolm said. “It was interesting because, by working with NearForm, we took a true MVP approach. We didn’t just build it in eight weeks, go live and wash our hands of it. We built it very incrementally, managing and optimising as we went. We went live on October 31 2018 with four shows, we had 60 shows by Christmas, and 700 not long after that. We changed, tested, and optimised the whole time, always analysing the user experience.”

A Highly Performant & Scalable Design

NearForm built a facade API with a new UI front-end using React.  The new tech stack and architecture design immediately offered an improved interface, better integration with the back-end databases and CMS, greater control over the UI and the ability to make changes in the right time frame.  This has given ATG the flexibility to deliver ongoing enhancements and more interesting interfaces as it expands.  

The enhanced UI also delivers improved performance in server-side-rendering, higher response times and intuitive simplicity that has facilitated increased ticket sales.  

The Results

The good news for ATG is that the new purchase flow rapidly proved itself in terms of return on investment.  “The chief benefit for us has certainly been that we now have control over the purchase flow, but another important benefit is our conversion rate: the number of website visitors who follow through to complete a sale,” said Malcolm. “We’re seeing a 25% improvement in conversion rate for the new website compared to the old website and sales of upsells have also increased.”

Building the Culture & Capabilities to Transform

Today ATG’s own engineering team is in place, and handover from NearForm ensured a smooth transition from a consulting engineering team to permanent staff for ATG.   

Working closely with key stakeholders meant NearForm was able to help ATG get set up for ongoing success – not only in terms of methodologies and processes, tools and frameworks but in terms of building up the technology function in-house and the JavaScript competencies they needed within the engineering team. 

“The whole principle was that I could on-board permanent people and get them up to speed. The way NearForm partnered with us worked well in that regard”, noted Malcolm. “I was able to bring in the new guys and have the knowledge from the NearForm experts transferred over. The whole point of this is that we were transitioning from a consulting team to a permanent team.”

Malcolm says the flexibility NearForm showed throughout the project was invaluable in getting ATG to where it is today: with a growing staff of engineers who can advance ATG’s strategy of driving further integration with other ticketing systems. “NearForm’s flexibility was one thing that I appreciated most,” Malcolm said. “They accommodated us, learned what we needed, and adapted to us. It’s important to have that kind of partner: one we can call on when we need them.”

 

For more information on Ambassador Theatre Group, visit www.atgtickets.com 

The whole principle was that I could on-board permanent people and get them up to speed. The way NearForm partnered with us worked well in that regard.  I was able to bring in the new guys and have the knowledge from the NearForm experts transferred over. The whole point of this is that we were transitioning from a consulting team to a permanent team.  NearForm’s flexibility was one thing that I appreciated most.  They accommodated us, learned what we needed, and adapted to us. It’s important to have that kind of partner.

Malcolm Reid, Director of Product Engineering, The Ambassador Theatre Group

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