Archive for category eCommerce

Loyalty Avatars – Gamification Technique to Redefine Loyalty Programs

As customer engagement evolves through the social media & mobile technology, more & more brands are aspiring with customer centrism. Technology has been at it’s best in the recent time with web 2.0, which has evolved a new paradigm changing the codes & architecture of once CRM & now social CRM. One of sequential of CRM is Loyalty Program, a program to entice shopper to the brand, build in a much required dosage of adrenaline through the veins of buying decision of a shopper, to make them loyal. But what we see now is that, these programs are done to death, monotonous, daunting & cumbersome, which are not fairing as it is expected.

The trends started from driving consumption in the same category, went on to cross category, not necessarily the same brand through strategic alliance to benefit shoppers with wide range of products & services. Take the hot example of Kingfisher Airlines, there are cards like American Express who have tied up with other brands, to convert the loyalty points into miles to fly, the question here is are these “wow” and has it boasted the much required usage. No doubt these program are meant to engage and encourage usage, unfortunately not every plan flies.

We have also seen professional bodies, coming into existence whose day job is management of Loyalty programs; they on behalf of brands manage in their name & build alliance across categories in segments to boast usage collaboratively. But the very customer engagement goes missing in these programs. If we rig and use a crystal to granularity, we would see a fine phrase in loyalty programs called customer engagement, where one of the principles of engagement is aspirations.

Understanding customer aspiration is the key to any program and cherry in the icing would be to have understood trending behavior. For example “Gaming” there are hundreds of infographics which talks on how gaming is been engaging people online & once such statistics which pinned me down is 57% of the people who played games had never used gaming before, isn’t this rising your eyebrows. Well if that is the case, have you thought even Loyalty programs could be influenced with gaming.

If Farmville had to be popular in India, it was because every one of us had the aspiration of farming, but in reality knowing the difficulty, limits them to venture, but when they found virtual people jumped, across the globe, to a extent of day talks on what was the cultivation in their farm, isn’t it astounding. Then why not try the same principle of aspiration in your Loyalty programs using gaming methodology.

Creating an Avatar

This is how you do it, Loyalty Avatars, which are your shopper’s aspiration in terms of superheroes, personality, film characters, relevant personalities, brands & so on. Helping your shoppers in understanding the Virtual Avatar they want to be and helping them to recreate in virtual world through the consumption of your product. Every quantity the shopper buys goes closer to that of what he wants to be. There by you allow quantity, consumption across your product range & to top it, point to brag among his friend, moreover you build a close connect and wall of fame.

Virtual Environment through real life actions 

Now that you have the avatar ready, let the avatar face some challenges, you model an environment of constraints & challenges in terms of activity related to the consumption or to the character or in the virtual interface  for it, thus creating season & campaign calendar for yourselves. And in the process you have built a community which engages, fans to applaud leading to the second moment of truth, reviews boasting your product and before you realize you have them talking on product ideas which have a ready target audience.

Thanks to technology enhancement, we have tools & applications which help you to engage & such ideas are not farfetched but opportunity which knocks only once, one who adopts first has first mover advantage. This concept is ideal synchronization of the social world (engagement), gaming (environment) & mobile technology (reach). The words in brackets explain the impact of each activity. If you are into the Consumer Product Group (CPG) or FMCG or eCommerce or Multi-retail outlets this works so well, limiting yourselves to just the branding merchandise of your promotion is hampering your engagement.

Use this concept in synchronization of the trending like social world (engagement), gaming (environment) & mobile technology (reach). While I was on customer engagement through the social media, I found an interesting application using facebook, by a company Adepto which calls its products as Trolly, they have an interesting feature where they gamify the way the customer shares the purchases, this methodology not only helps in engaging them but also shares in the network there by creating ripples and excitement. This application is a clue to what can be done. Check the video

These are just the clues what I call Grey Munchies for you to think a loud and engage your consumers. Customer engagement is the key in today’s worlds as shoppers’ are informed, social & mobile device savvy, if you are not there, you have lost your game.

Tips of the trade

  • Brands adopt the recent trends such as social media just not to gain fans, but engaging them too.
  • Innovation, Relevance & Reach is the new mantra
  • Adopt gaming to create excitements
  • Not to forget mobile technology while you lay your plan in integration.

You Could reach me on adarsh.pete@gmail.com or connect with me on  linkedin

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An Empty Mind is Marketer’s Paradise – Leveraging Airports To Enhance the Customer Base

Facebook has over 250 million mobile user, advertiser expense for location-based services would set to approach $ 10 billion dollar by 2016, The rise of tablets allows airlines to come out with interactive apps to book tickets, a tweet which said around 30 airports in US would be able to access through free wify, HTML  5  is set to revolutionize the standardization and features for mobile devices. Does it ring the bell, if not check?

Millions of passengers use airports annually across the world either on one way or round trip, at an average people would be spending anywhere between 3 hrs – 8 hrs after check-in of their luggage, any idea, what happens? What have been emerging more appealing than the duty-free shops, window shopping & youthful staff around, is the world of internet, running through their smart devices, which could keep him occupied with things which would keep him away in his / her normal routine life. His / Her tablet or laptop or smart phone is the only device left after checking.

What could be true is using this captivated time, which I call a subliminal mind, of an individual, which is with clutter of prospective running in the mind, whether read a magazine or go around window shopping or check in the duty-free or stare at hanging advertisement banners or chat with the fellow passenger and what is very predominant among the clutter is use his/her phone, either with the bandwidth what his service provider has or the free wify in the airport. Have we thought, what an opportunity it throws for eCommerce platform, then imagine a digital display on your device, while you enter the airport premise, which says

“You are now in world of ABC eCommerce, kindly download the app on to your device”

This app, enables every passenger who have the Bluetooth on, to get the app, which helps him to gain the limited access, which is sponsored or in alliance with service provider at the airport. This access gains authentication (resolving the security issue), and starts the interaction with your prospect, who was cluttered all this while and you have channelized him to what you want, you are accessing him to posts in his social networking site and list of guided things.

“Lets’ do window shopping”

A feature, which is the lonely passenger’s friend, using the GPS navigation or equivalent technology, you are guiding him through the airport, helping to window shop, through your searches and comparative pricing with online on your site, in a way that you are showing the benefits with you and helping him to capture munchies while he is on board.

“Check the QR code, Hi, You have a surprise”     

Features which could allow you to identify the sponsored QR codes to entitle discounts on your online stores and free buys, to make the experience more exciting, eCommerce could use augmented reality, to click him pictures across to cherish his memories, all this happening under your umbrella of access, allowing you to be where his posts are.

“Do you want us to connect to your friends through Facebook”

What could be the next logical step once you are through with you checklist, start conversation with your friends, tweet on the services, link networks, share picture which are branded with you.

“Check what your favorite airline has for you to offer”   

These are what eCommerce platform leverage on, is channeling the airline’s loyalty program to your site, allowing passenger to shop, leverage on promotions. This would get a connect with your customer, understand the taste and what brings you closer to your customer centric strategy.

“How about you munch on what you saw, searched, connected, while you are on board”

Once you are about to go on the airplane mode, the application allows you mull the activities, and allows you now to create post, write remarks, check what you have been looking as fads, are they trending, which could be brought in your decision process, and once you are online, allows you to update on your platform, as one of the engagement.

eCommerce today has enormous potential, thanks to technology advancements, tablets & smart phone, it is up to  the player to decide, to explore the new segments to be in and get the user base by being as close as possible with the customers . The above narrative, is just an example to how customer engagement could be taken to a different alter all together, through the shopping online, writing reviews on the products (good adrenaline dosage for people), as this is the time when people have their thinking hats on and allowing you to be in the subliminal mind, which would definitely give you ROI, if not immediate, then future definitely.

You Could reach me on adarsh.pete@gmail.com or connect me linkedin

Tips for eCommerce

  • Airports throw enormous opportunity to build customer engagement and footfalls
  • It is just not important to be there in terms display banners, but makes more sense if you could relate your online experience  through mobile & tablet apps, which brings consumers closer to the platform
  • The Narrative is a good example of an App.
  • Especially Player who operate in the Travel & Leisure category, have you tried this, then check this stats which says, trials for the new ebookers.com website showed that 70% of hotel booking made through the new mobile website were for same day Check-In.

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Changing Faces Of eCommerce: Technology & Business Models

eCommerce or eRetailing, is just getting more and more exciting with the advent of new technology which are smarter, lighter and advanced, to convert every experience closer to reality. Every platform today can boast one new feature, a new innovation and optimized technique to entice their shopper. The trick is to bridge the gap arising from the real life shopping, reduce the rejection on delivery and increase process efficiency.  While I was writing on Augmented reality & Social Commerce, in one of my posts, I considered them as a boon to the eCommerce, but as I started researching for new technology which could overcome the biggest challenge in the fashion category, in the eCommerce model, where the rejects after delivery is as high as 30%, purely because of the nature of the buying behavior & size match, I came across a cool technology and methodology, which is as hilarious as:

Technology : Webcam Measurements for Buying Clothes Online

Like any other Success story, the technology UPcload, also started through addressing the pain area after self actualization & returning the delivery of the online shopped cloth, by the founders, purely because of the mismatch of size. They found an opportunity and brought a solution through two years of effort, which is now spreading as a wildfire, with it’s originality & fabulous methodology of scanning the body online through a webcam & holding a CD. UPcload uses your webcam, and here is the clever part—a CD or DVD—and a whole load of image processing, to work out your exact measurements. You stand in front of your webcam, in reasonably tight-fitting clothes, holding the CD in front of your navel. The system takes your picture and then runs it through object recognition processing. Since the system knows how big a CD is, it can work out your relative body dimensions. This technology is here to bring the much required revolution while shopping for your fashion line merchandise.

The discussion with Asaf Moses, Founder of UPcload, was totally a visionary one, he is set to change the online shopping experience and has been very optimistic with the soft launch in Germany & set to open shops in US now. UPcload has started seeing it’s adaptability from various leading platform and he quotes “It means we can suggest clothing ideas to people that they may never have thought of before. The program is using your body shape to suggest genuinely new ideas to people rather than simply suggesting on the basis of your historic buying pattern. It is like having your best friend with you.”

Such, inventions, innovation & explorations would only, make the online shopping experience more exciting & realistic. This would strategically be very beneficial for fashionable clothing line, especially when it comes to experimentation of new trends, fads in the fashion line. With this technology we would see more and more people experimenting. Also, such technology would make certain lines more accessible & open to the broader market base, using body shape, it  would enable to see yourself with new trends & even more, going forward you could ask your friends  through social networking sites. This business model would work more or less in the similar way to PayPal for financial transaction; a user could actually create his or her profile through their site and save it online, and use measurement while shopping online.

Takes for eCommerce Industry

  • Measurement technology would change the online buying experience of the shopper and reduce the rejects 
  • Increase experimentation leading to move on perception on trends to trial, with the blend of social commerce, would only increase the market base by cross-Category  adaptation in the fashion apparel category.

Business Model: Orderwithme.com ‘s Changing sourcing Model

Success stories are always born from the opportunity of gaps, and so is another example, which was the winner of TechCrunch DISRUPT in Bejing, Orderwithme.com.

During the founder Jonathan’s  education days in China, he was fascinated with the cost arbitrage to US, he went on to set up a shop in United States, sourcing Bags & other accessories from china, soon he found himself sailing on the ugly side of the sail, not because of the cost, but the quantity. The question here is, do you have so many customers to exhaust your procurement, which soon would be a dead investment in terms of inventory. He found an opportunity, in the entire sail where he was not alone & there were many small retailers, which his new platform could cater too, in sourcing through group buying. This model is now the version 2.0 when compared with alibaba.com, which too is sourcing model from china.

Orderwithme.com, found opportunity in sourcing for all the small retailers in United States through group buying, hand picking goods for their customers, walk through the journey of procurement & selection, quality evaluation & many more attributes, making the sourcing site the most effective platform for it’s small customer & adding the flavor of personalization. The value in the model is creating a platform where various small retailers could queue the order for the bulk pick up from china, as like the founder, not everybody would be able to relinquish the quantity procured, even though you have the cost advantage.

The Learning from the model is their personalized touch which makes every customer of their feel of being in China and procuring goods, through Video, high definition pictures on the journey of purchasing and Account manager who liaison with their customers, understanding the requirement & taking care of the order.

You Could reach me on adarsh.pete@gmail.com or connect me linkedin

Takes for eCommerce Industry

  • Enhancing the online shopping experience with more digital aids like the high definition videos & pictures, which could bridge the decision making process of the real life

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6 Point Strategy To Pin Your Customer To Your eCommerce Model In Emerging Economies

ECommerce, as such, is not a new concept, but it is considered as a new model when it enters the emerging economies, where infrastructure and technology is trying to keep pace with the people’s perception. Moreover, they would have seen the organized retail flaring new heights, people adapting to new culture, where they are exposed to brands on shelves, feeling it, investigating it & top it, freedom of choice. Given the behavioral adaptions & the technology advances, eCommerce is seeing a new wave with Social Media & mobile technology vis-à-vis web 1.0.

Not biased on the brand though, but it’s amazing to see flipkart’s approach to the dig in the 10,000 cr market segment in the book industry, commanding  to sell a book every minute and gaining the foothold in eCommerce industry. The founder, while being interviewed in Young Turks, based his entry strategy to gain the consumer confidence, as books don’t cost much (helping the shopper to gain confidence) and secondly books don’t break or get damaged while in transit. Interesting to note here is, in spite of them being start-up couple of years back, they have gained a commendable market share and huge traction even in their newly introduces categories of with respect to white & brown goods. Yet another point to note is that they have good volumes churning from tier 2 cities and more so their advertising campaign have been very appealing as they are more on to the typical pain area, with respect to  why people hesitate to opt for eCommerce.

Wooing shoppers is the toughest task with any player today in the internet space, Thanks to the digital advancements in terms of technology, operating systems, mobile technology & enterprise applications, eCommerce has seen a sea change. Players like DataLink , who are the prominent players in the space, help budding & existing eCommerce Companies, in developing, supporting, maintaining flawless architecture which are constantly been innovated & updated with the  new ways like the social & mobile commerce which could help your platform to be on top of the mind of the shoppers. Such agencies play a crucial role in bridging the gap & help focusing the player on to the business.

As the social wave & mobile technology (in terms of smart devices) picks up heat and the numbers trending towards eCommerce being a prime channel strategy for any brands to reach their consumers.  6 point strategy to pin your customer to eCommerce model would be an approach towards finding ways & means to attract & have them with your model.

1. Play on Perception – Flipkart is a good example which has played a pioneering role in addressing and educating people, around their value proposition. The ad campaigns which were more on towards replacement guarantee, EMI options, pay on delivery and so on, caught bang on with Shoppers. The beauty of the entire campaign was, no where they touched on type of deals & offers. Such a thought process always creates the right kind of buzz and sets a platform in the emerging economies, which has a large addressable and consumption base.

2. Partner Brands as a channel in their sales Strategy – This point strategy builds the notional value among the user, when the consumer finds their choice of product tagged to the platform, it plays the much required promotions. A real life example, I was checking for the Samsung Tab in their website and curiously went on to see the online retailer in India, was Flipkart. This example is again not to talk on the Flipkart, but to articulate the value of being one of the prime channels in the sales strategy. Please note such a presence not only builds the loyalty but also helps to extend the brand loyalty of the product to the platform. In case of India, where eCommerce is seeing huge traction, such a move plays a lot on notional values.

3. Explore Mobile Apps for mobile devices – Mobile devices are proving to be one of the most intrinsic part of the consumer life, impacting their behavior, lifestyle and even more the decision-making process is not the same any more. We have already seen in one of the theories of Google and one of my previous blog on Zero Moment Of Truth . With the advent to tablets, every company is mooted towards developing applications which are lighter, quicker and smarter; it would be a big crime in this smart world, if the applications are not optimized to the mobile devices. Application plays a huge role in engagement too and also building the brand presence, and more so, smarter application reinstate the brand  prominence in the mind of the prospects in influencing the decision-making, through various engagements. An example to mobile app, evaluating  products, brand tracking through feeds and so on.

4. Adopt Social Commerce – Adopting social commerce principles could help the platform to boast their footfalls, also create the experience closer to reality and in the company friends, developing reviews, sharing, asking friends for recommendation and the list goes on. If not the social commerce platform at least the features, this ads to the engagement which is the core to pin your prospects. As in the case of the retail format, every outlet tries to engage his or her own customer to increase the footfall and enhance their shopping experience. Digital media could boast with the type of technology coming in, for example the augmented reality app connected to the social media can play wonders in promotion.

   Courtesy Rackspace, building43

5. Building a community of Happy Faces “The Brand Face”  & program around –  It is very important today that eCommerce needs to create a connect with its customer, and what better way it could be having your happy customer on to your ‘Wall of Fame’. The time has come now to build a community around the happy faces, not to have the freebies, but to facilitate value ads to its frequent & loyal customers to its credit. This point strategy purely works on the consumer buying behavior and their spending pattern on the social media circle, for example in the case of category dealing with books, how fascinating it would be for a customer to have a personally autographed books or meet his favorite authors or thinking a loud a chat or live video from the author in form of streams.

6. Practice Zero Moment of Truth – When we look at the buying behavior of a shopper after having a desire to buy a product, he has different ways today to gather more information, either he gets on to his mobile device like Laptop, iPad, smart phone or get on to stand alone PC, hit the search button, the best in today’s world what people say is ‘Google’. Your favorite search engine is able to throw loads of information from the product details, availability, location, feedback to reviews; they are so intrinsic that no brand can actually neglect any of these details, if they want to win their shoppers’ heart. So in the case e-commerce, not only the site would have to be optimized to the search engine but it would have to be calibrated for various devices from the smart phones to other smart devices, making it friendly for the shopper to view the information. The last thing you would want is the opportunity loss for unfriendliness in viewing the product.

More or less, when you evaluate the different players, these point strategies are prevalent, what is missing today is being customer centric and building engagement around them. It is not hard to have a sale today, but what would make a difference is building a community around the happy customer & tools to engage, it is just not enough to have a fan page to communicate people on the deal, but what would work is allowing the brand to speak, listen & engage with their customer.

You could reach me on adarsh.pete@gmail.com or connect me LinkedIn

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Social Commerce & Augmented Reality, Boon to eCommerce

Forrester’s article very recently published, Social Media Still Very Nascent – Adoption And Adaptation Challenges For Organizations, is so true. When I look at e-commerce today from the perspective of Social Media, the opportunity  is infinite and not just restricted to a page as the only engagement mode for update, offers & review. In this era of Social Media or Web 2.0, out-of-the-box thinking has no limits, with the option what Google +, Facebook or Twitter could throw with their new Application Programming Interface and the new features which they introduce, make it only more favorable for the marketer to explore, expedite & experience.

The well-known fact on engaging with consumers is co-exist where they are, imbibe in their activity & feeds, associate with their community and groups. Today, there are many leading ERP companies which build their platforms in the CRM area using the essence of social media, popularly known as Social CRM, these can track customers on social media or in simpler terms they are very synonymous to Social Media Monitoring. However, this is too narrow an interpretation, as Social CRM also includes customer communities managed by the organization themselves.

While I was looking for Social Media Platforms used in e-commerce, I came across a technology ‘commerce edge’ of Infosys, which is a Social Commerce Platform, on SaaS model and delivers, what could be the differentiation among the competition. This could be just a start in exploring social media from creation of buzz to inducing buy through new ways of group gifting, co-shopping, Interacting with your friend to review product and so on. Basically, drifting the shopping experience more towards the real world. Countries where the myths overrule the benefits of e-commerce, these technologies come as a boon in changing the perception, and also acting as a double-edged sword with the benefit loaded messaging in campaigns as the value proposition. The other way to think about this would be enhancing the opportunity base by creating new access for new set of shoppers.

The other technology, which dives deep in making the e-commerce closer to the real world is Augmented Reality. Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.(Source –  Augmented Reality on Freebase, licensed under CC-BY ).

As mobile devices today are going through a phase of invention, innovation & induction, shoppers’ buying behavior is varying through the process of adoption & adaptation. Today the brands are just not restricted to brick & mortar modes of advertisement to reach the consumers, thanks to the mobile devices becoming smarter, sleeker, handy and a personal device,  facilitating insights at the finger tips, making them dependent on their favorite application to  move them through the decision value chain. This is where Augmented Reality, plays it’s trick, enabling shopper to visualize, evaluate & decide on to the options.

With this technology, a shopper could use his/ her mobile device to visualize his product under evaluation on to him/her (in case of Apparel) or on wall (in case of display) or on floor (in case of furniture) and so on. This would not only bring in the conviction but could add an edge over the real world in case of products like consumer durable, furniture, display pieces and so on.

Augmented Reality & Social Media is a big boon to the e-commerce world in bringing in the real world experience.

A Video on Augmented Reality

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