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CASE STUDY: ActivateUTS - O’Day 2020


  • 240% increase in membership sign-ups compared to O’Day 2019

  • 6,242 Membership transactions on O’Day 2020 - achieving 156% of the target


  • Square Payments and Integration

  • Squiz Matrix CMS


  • Business Analysis

  • Square Payment Integration

  • Matrix Implementation and Integration

  • Data Migration


  • Process Design - 13 December 2019

  • Square Implementation - 22 January 2020 - 4 February 2020

  • Matrix Implementation - 22 January 2020 - 15 February 2020

  • O’Day - 27 February 2020

  • Data Migration - 28 February 2020 - 18 March 2020

ActivateUTS has over 130 clubs and societies where like-minded students meet, socialise and contribute to the UTS community. Their clubs and societies are the foundation of university social life and the beginning of life long friendships. Students, staff and members of the public are able to join clubs through their website at any point. The biggest single day for new memberships is the ActivateUTS O’Day, which is part of UTS Orientation at the start of the academic year. On this one day, thousands of new memberships are created making it a critical day for all clubs.

During O’Day 2019, 2600 new members joined ActivateUTS clubs. The process for joining clubs was multi-step, with the volume of people attempting to sign-up in 2019, significant delays were experienced on the day. The ActivateUTS team were keen to improve the student and club experience for the 2020 O’Day event. In December 2019, Harper Stone were engaged to design a new, more efficient club sign up experience for O’Day 2020.

The goal of the engagement was to reduce the number of steps required to join a club, significantly reducing the overall transaction time for each customer. Additionally, the club membership and customer information would need to be synchronised with the existing Squiz Matrix website, to allow the existing club membership and user management functionality to continue to be used. The target KPI was to increase the number of new club memberships to around 4,000 at O’Day 2020.

We started with a review of the existing Squiz Matrix functionality to identify enhancements that could deliver the reduced transaction time. While a potential Squiz Matrix solution was identified, it would require extensive custom development which would cost in excess of $60,000 to implement, load-test and deploy. This cost was above the budget allocation and an alternative approach was needed.

The next approach was an evaluation of dedicated payment platforms with the ability to export the data from the payment platform, and import to Squiz Matrix following the event. A number of potential payment platforms were evaluated based on their ease of use, import and export capabilities and costs associated with the platform. The platform that finished on top of the evaluation was Square. Importantly, this solution would be able to be implemented at less than 25% of the cost of the Squiz Matrix solution and within the ActivateUTS budget.

ActivateUTS purchased 130 Square Readers and would use the Square App on Club Administrators devices to collect credit card payments on O’Day. The Harper Stone team configured the Square Account using a separate location for each of the 130 clubs. The use of location allowed control of products and Square Users on a club basis. It also allowed for payment reports to be easily filtered by the club, to assist with allocation of funds to each club by the ActivateUTS finance team, following the event. A user account was created for each club and associated with their club through the location and adding a layer of security. The product catalogue was exported from Squiz Matrix and imported to Square, again associating each product with the correct Club (location). This setup simplified the interface for the Club Administrators on O’Day, by making only their club memberships available for sale in the Square App.

As part of UTS Orientation event students are required to pre-register through a UTS managed event website. The list of registered students were exported and then imported as customers in Square by the Harper Stone team. While O’Day is primarily a new student event, it is also open to existing students, staff and the general public. To ensure that as many potential customer accounts were created prior to the event, the Harper Stone also exported the 30,000 existing users from the ActivateUTS website and imported these as customers in Square. There were just under 40,000 customers created in Square and ready for use at O’Day, minimising the new customer details required to be entered during a transaction.

A training session using the new Square Readers with the core ActivateUTS team was held on the 4 February and from this quick reference guides were developed for Club Administrators and a separate training session was delivered by the ActivateUTS team in preparation for the event.

O’Day was held on the 27 February 2020 with huge attendance. The transaction time to join a Club was less than 30 seconds, a huge improvement on the 4-5 minutes that was experienced in 2019. At the end of the day 6,242 new club memberships were processed through Square, an increase of 240% compared to 2019 and well in excess of the 4,000 membership target.

Following the event the Harper Stone team were able to export the transactions from Square and process them using a new custom Squiz Matrix page to automatically create the new user accounts and to associate a transaction for each club membership.

The reduction in transaction time highlights the advantage of using a platform that is dedicated to a niche purpose, in this case, Square

The event was a huge success, with the number of new memberships far exceeding the target and positive feedback from students and Club Administrators. The reduction in transaction time highlights the advantage of using a platform that is dedicated to a niche purpose, in this case, Square is an excellent choice for payment processing. Importantly when using multiple platforms the import/export and integration capabilities of the platform are crucial, again Square excelled in this area.

This project would not have been a success without the close partnership between the ActivateUTS and Harper Stone teams, and the trust that allowed for various options to be evaluated and worked through, to deliver an impressive user experience.

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