What American Pharoah's incredible win can teach us about ecommerce.

By Marc Hummel

June 9, 2015

Horse Racing

American Pharoah won the Triple Crown this past Saturday. Only eleven horses have ever done it. It was an impressive feat, the likes of which the world hasn't seen since 1978, the year the first computer bulletin board system was created.

(To the uninitiated, including me about an hour ago, the Triple Crown consists of three thoroughbred horse races: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.)

So what can American Pharoah's big win teach us about ecommerce?

1. You can recover from false starts.

American Pharoah started slow out of the gate. "He kind of sat back when they opened the gate,” Pharoah's jocket, Victor Espinoza told NBC Sports.

But the bay colt rallied, and in two big jumps to take the lead.

The lesson for ecommerce practitioners: Don't get discouraged if a really cool personalization test you dreamed up doesn't deliver the results you expected. Keep iterating and imagining—you might end up being happily surprised.

2. Don't let success make you complacent.

American Pharoah overcame impressive odds to win the Triple Crown. He also displayed incredible grace under pressure. Let's run the numbers.

  • Fans in the crowd at Belmont Park: 90,000
  • Races American Pharoah completed in 5 weeks: 3
  • $2 wages placed on American Pharoah: 94,128

American Pharoah didn't let the pressure to succeed affect his performance. He also didn't let his commanding lead turn into complacency.

How does this translate into a lesson for ecommerce managers? Even if you have a successful ecommerce strategy—you have a robust testing regimen; you offer personalized customer experiences, your conversion rates are looking good... there is always more you can do.

3. Persistence pays off. 

American Pharoah's jockey, Victor Espinoza, failed to reach his goal for twelve years before claiming his Triple Crown victory. As he told NBC Sports:

“My career is like the stock market,” Espinoza, one of 12 children from Mexico, said Saturday night. “Up and down.”

Espinoza said he felt like a loser in 2002 and 2014, when, after piloting horses to Derby and Preakness wins, he came up short of the Triple Crown at the Belmont.

In those 12 years between, he considered quitting the sport when mired in a slump.

It's not easy to launch a sophisticated and successful ecommerce strategy. Technology is ever-changing, and your customers are always demanding more. But a clear game plan and a healthy dose of persistence can really pay off.

Ecommerce Derby infographic

Take a deeper dive into the similarities between retail ecommerce and horse racing. Check out our ecommerce infographic—there are more similarities than you may think!

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Marc Hummel is a former Content Marketing Associate for Monetate. He's also a part-time grad student at the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys biking to work, reading, listening to podcasts/music, and eating ice cream. Usually not all at once. For more about Marc, go here.

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