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Billion Dollar Dream Seller: The Tatts digital lotteries machine | #037

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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

Sharon Anderson is the Head of Digital for The Lott, at Tabcorp, Australia’s leading gambling-led entertainment company, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

Since 2015, Sharon has driven the digital strategy that has contributed to a significant increase in sales and customer satisfaction scores across The Lott’s digital channels.

Sharon is passionate about innovation, customer centricity and data-driven decision making. She has led and worked directly with teams across marketing and technology to transform products, people, and processes at all levels within the organisation.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Sharon Anderson, Head of Digital Lotteries at The Lott.  You would know The Lott for their brands including Powerball, Oz Lotto and Instant Scratch Its. This is a unique retailer as there are no physical goods to shift, but this episode provides a fascinating insight into how you can still sell something that is totally intangible.  

Sharon takes us behind the scenes with some of the challenges they face in transitioning older customers to online, the tactics they use to navigate app stores that have different rules and regulations and how they handle the huge surges of demand one hour out from prize draws.

The nature of lotteries is that not everybody has a winning entry. So it’s really about how does the customer feel value in that transaction? Because that’s ultimately what will bring them back.

 Sharon Anderson

Questions answered in this episode include
  • Who is The Lott customer and how has that changed over time? 
  • From a tech point of view, what’s the most challenging part of keeping The Lott trading? 
  • In digital marketing, where have you experimented recently to change or drive new behaviours? 


Whether it’s your weekly numbers or a scratchie at Christmas time, catering to a wide range of customers isn’t easy, but the thing that unites them all is the feeling that maybe this time, they might just get lucky… 

“When I joined lotteries, I was thinking of my own parents having the Saturday gold lotto ticket up on the fridge and then checking the draw on Saturday night, possibly before or after Hey hey Saturday, while we had a roast, or it was my grandmother maybe sneaking us a scratchie every now and again for Christmas time.  I think what unites all customers is that being in it to win it, right? Everybody says it’s the most cliche thing. I think when I look at our social media profile, it wouldn’t matter what game we were presenting. I think the most common response we see is – wouldn’t it be nice?  It’s going to be me. So I think the diversity really comes in more just understanding that everybody wants that chance to dream, of making a life-changing event for themselves or for their loved ones. 

In terms of more specifics, I guess it does come down to the games that we offer and the channels as well.  So a lot of the time, for a digital player, we’ll see quite commonly that younger audience. Based roughly around like 25 to 35, which is our traditional target. I think, you know, the nature of lotteries is that it’s something that maybe comes into your psyche as you purchase a home for the first time or you’ve got, you’ve got more things on your mind.

So when you’re kind of young and free, you’re not really considering it, my life’s pretty great. you know, don’t need to change it. it’s on a great trajectory. And then, you know, life happens and you go, oh, wouldn’t it be nice. It’s a ticket to dreaming. I  think we say it all the time here, even when we’re designing the digital experience, which is highly intangible, it’s a real emotional experience, you walking away with a ticket and that’s kind of smallerif you’re digital, you’re not really walking away with anything, maybe an email confirmation. But that moment you’re giving yourself to just dream about what you might do with it or who you might give it to, or what changes you make in life. It’s really uplifting and it’s really positive.”

If it’s a ticket they want, it’s a ticket they shall have!

“it kind of comes back to the ticket actually and this is something that we did during COVID. A lot of customers, unfortunately, due to lock downs, weren’t able to kind of make it to their local store, but still wanted to be involved. Feedback that we actually got was that they really wanted to print out their ticket. It wasn’t a function we’d made. I suppose thinking, it’s in your account, it’s there it’ll know if you have a win, we automatically pay those winnings back into your account, happy days.  

I think that was us really putting ourselves in the shoes of those customers, saying that they still love that tangible ticket.  We ended up designing a printable ticket for people, which wouldn’t be something normal, as a digital business, but our customers have loved it.”

The Lott’s tech stack is an impressive in-house behemoth supporting millions of transactions

“I’m happy to nerd out on this cause it’s by far the biggest thing I’ve learned living here, I’ve never worked in a business in my life that experiences the types of spikes and peaks that this business does when we have our large jackpots and it’s sometimes considered a blessing and a curse to have your own technology.  For me, it’s a blessing. 

So we’re really fortunate to have a proprietary system that conducts our lotteries and takes all the entry styles and the team that manages that are all fantastic and really passionate about the business and the customer as well. Equally we do all of our development in-house. So be it our terminals in store or apps or website. So yes, it’s a lot. And therefore you’ve always got that balance of what you can innovate versus what you need to continue to support. 

So when we’re designing our experiences, the thing we have to consider is that you know, that animation may be great or that journey may be excellent, but can we get that data when you’ve got millions of people requesting that same thing at the same time? That has been something that we’ve had to equally work on over the last three to four years in terms of bolstering that capacity, because the digital business has grown. Traditionally we would see our peaks happen just before the stores would close around 5:00pm. And of course the stores themselves have now extended their own sales and then we sort of move into the last hour of the draw that the throughput rates are really phenomenal. I think like off the top of my head, some of our larger powerball draws that we’ve had where we’re hitting like a hundred million or 150 million. It sounds insane to say those amounts.

You’re looking at a system and digital experiences that need to support up to 400 account registrations, 2,800 credit card or debit card deposits and 3,600 purchase entry purchases per minute. So this is not small.  This is not your backyard volumes.

It’s incredible to watch as it’s happening.  There’s a lot of pieces that go into making it all work, but I’m extremely proud of the technology that we’ve built. We’ve been able to deliver really compelling experiences that can withhold those types of volumes. So it is a big part of my life in terms of working with the technology teams.”

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