Siddharth Dabhade General Manager India, Criteo shares light on digital transformation led by mar-tech elements such AR, VT, and Internet of Things
It is difficult to go even one day without coming across a news article that says how virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), the Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual assistants like Amazon.com’s Alexa will transform our lives.
However, Bill Gates’ famous aphorism, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10,” has never been more appropriate than in the era of modern digital commerce.
By 2020, as per a Gartner Report in 2017, the entire Digital Commerce industry will transform. This is proofed by the divergence between what’s catching consumers’ attention, what’s catching the media’s interest and the factors really making a difference in modern retailing. This new road will transform the entire digital commerce space like never seen before.
Aiming for relevant developments
At the heart of the digital commerce conversation are great developments that will result in a true paradigm shift. Some of these developments include augmented commerce (AR and VR), “thing” commerce, conversational commerce (artificial intelligence and chatbots) and payments, each of which have enormous potential for deepening brand affinity while returning useful behavioural data.
For instance, customers would want to browse through portals like Lenskart having AI-powered chatbots, clarifying their queries in the same way they’d do in a physical store, thereby increasing the engagement level.
Topics like subscription management, marketplace integration and management, B-to-B/B-to-C convergence, marketplaces, monetization and personalization are discussed less in the public but are equally (if not more) important.
While it’s certainly more difficult for the second grouping to capture the public’s imagination, one could argue that marketplaces, customer journey analytics and personalization are at the heart of how digital commerce will evolve over the next two years.
Increasing Role of Personalization
Machine learning and real-time updates are driving a more fluid personalization experience. This is also helping retailers anticipate consumer needs and behaviours. Via smart personalization, business will have the ability to increase profits significantly. However, there is a caveat in all of this.
The retailers and technology partners will need to share customer information, so the ever-increasing volume of data can be turned into actionable insights in real time.
The new breed of personalization engines uses continuous, real-time user activity to enable a change of presentation layers based on some specific interactions. This is done by creating customer profiles and leveraging personal data along with behavioural data from a specific customer.
Some personalization engines can update customer profiles in real time. However, it’s becoming more and more imperative for all parties involved to be transparent in how they aggregate, share and use this information given consumer scepticism of such practices.
It’s an exciting time because customer experience is replacing product and price as the new consumer battleground. Now, the challenge is to create the most frictionless, relevant digital experiences to drive satisfaction, engagement and, ultimately, sales. With focus on personalization, ShopClues was able to engage with their customers with the right products, at the right time, across platforms including mobile and desktop.
Personalization engines in the digital space increases engagement through increase in page views and clicks per page, while decreasing bounce rates and introducing use of self-service features. All of these clubbed together drives higher order values, conversion rates, customer acquisitions, fewer returned items and wider margins.
Rising Power of Omni-channel
Similar results as above can also be seen when personalization is extended across channels. More and more online retail transactions now involve the use of two or more devices. So, it’s evident that retailers should be able to use shopper journey analytics to improve customer experience across all devices and consumer touch points.
This means adopting a user-focused approach to analytics and not just one that is specifically focused to a channel or device. With this objective, Urban Ladder – an ecommerce portal for furniture, décor and interior design services, is eyeing omni channel expansion by opening more offline stores.
Some retailers are ineffective around this and the problem lies in their inability to understand consumer behaviour across devices, but not in-store, creating a disconnect between online and brick-and-mortar interactions.
A way around this problem is combining retailers’ CRM data with their marketing technology providers’ cross-device matching solutions, which can help them to build a seamless picture. However, for this consolidation to work, suppliers need to have sufficient scale and strong security procedures.
Moreover, retailers should think about collaborating to share more shopper data in a secure, transparent and fair environment.
While consumer-friendly technology advancements sound lucrative to the marketer, it’s a combination of personalization, rising power of omni-channel and marketplaces that will truly transform digital commerce by 2020.