The Marketplace Revolution
With the growing pace of technological advancements, we are seeing our day-to-day lives change significantly. Not only are the capabilities of technology growing over time, but the actual rate of this growth is increasing too. This can make it difficult for businesses to keep up with the rate of change, particularly when it comes to consumer demands.
But what does this mean for marketplaces and businesses in the eCommerce industry? We have already seen some effects on customers in terms of their increasing expectations. Nowadays, retailers must attempt to meet consumer demands such as ease of ordering, free shipping, and expedited delivery.
One of the most exciting technological trends that have emerged recently is the use of data automation and artificial intelligence (AI). But what do these mean in terms of eCommerce? How can these technologies be leveraged so that your brand and products appeal to more customers?
This article will explore these technologies further, pulling back the curtain on how data can be used to better understand your customers and increase revenue. We will explore the historical context first, starting with the recent changes over the years in this space. We will also discuss what practical strategies organisations can implement in order to take advantage of data, as well as what the most exciting trends are for the future.
For organisations that are attempting to create a strategy around something that is rapidly changing (such as data), there are two considerations. The first are the aspects that will stay the same, but there are also things that are changing. The intersection of these two aspects will impact how your strategy is evolving. Therefore, it’s important to look at such changes.
Over the past 10 years, there have been several significant evolutions that are noteworthy. The first of these are channels – previously it was mostly just the existence of TV and physical retailers. Nowadays, however, there are many social channels and we also have laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. These mobile devices such as smartphones – combined with social networks – have also impacted connectivity.
We are now connected in a way that we had not thought we would be 10 years ago. In addition, another massive area of change is speed. The rate at which technologies are changing and advancing can put huge pressure on entire supply chains, affecting the way manufacturers are impacted.
Finally, as mentioned previously there has been a significant change in consumer expectations. As a side effect of companies like Amazon, buyers are expecting the best quality, delivered to them the next day, and even may want it to be cheaper than going to buy it in a physical store. With these four main changes understood, what can organisations do practically in order to adapt?
Practical Stages for Organisations
Taking into account the changes that have occurred over the past 10 years, what can brands do to keep up with the pace of evolution that we are seeing at the moment? One main consideration is the scale of data. With the world becoming so complex, what stages can retailers go through in order to make the right decisions based on such a huge level of data?
The first and possibly most important stage is the starting point, which in every project is an audit. In simple terms, data auditing is a process of assessing how fit a company’s data is for a project. This may involve profiling the data and looking at its quality. This is crucial because a simple audit can save you a lot of time later in the process. In some cases, an audit can even help reframe the entire scope of the project.
Another consideration to take into account is to take a mobile-first approach. People are increasingly shopping on their mobile devices; it’s rare for someone to carry a laptop around with them to shop on. Therefore, you have to think about the amount of real estate you have available on that smaller screen.
With this, you must consider how to make an impact and how to elicit a positive buying decision in such a small space. Furthermore, people tend not to scroll to page 5 or 6 in an item list; they make a buying decision on the first few products that they see. Therefore, when your product is viewed you have to appeal to their specific buying behaviour, which is supported by leveraging your data.
What are the most exciting trends?
As we have discussed, one of the most exciting (but also most challenging) aspects of this space is the rate of evolution. We have already seen such an exponential change in just the last 10 years, what could be in store for the industry in the next decade? While interesting, it does mean that retailers need to be agile so that they can adapt to new emerging trends and technologies. So what could be on the horizon for data next?
Leading on from the importance of agility, an upcoming need is going to be the availability of data. This is all about silo data sets and fragmented data in different markets. The future will be about three things: bringing data together, having consistency of data at scale, and being able to have complete agility and flexibility of that data. This means being able to change and track where you need it, when you need it, the frequency that you need it, and being able to pivot very quickly.
In the content and image world, another really crucial trend is standardisation and the understanding of all verticals. Knowing or estimating which strategies work better than others is no longer enough. It’s key to be able to quantifiably measure the differences in order to know what works better.
Beyond that, video is likely to be at the forefront of this space soon. There are several new ideas such as the Metaverse and it’s important to think about how NFTs and Cryptocurrencies are playing a role in the digital landscape. In a way, this is very much tangential to eCommerce, as people are going to start shopping in a digital world.
Overall, it is clear that the way to leverage data automation to increase your revenue is by utilising it to better understand your customers. If you understand consumer buying behaviour, you can ensure that you trigger a purchase decision when your products are viewed. Additionally, before undertaking a project, conducting an audit can save you a lot of time and effort later on down the line.
Another key takeaway is to use technology to automate processes. Many companies are still doing manual processes which can be automated, such as image collection. Data collection can be automated at scale and then there are fantastic tools out there to process this data. Beyond that, it’s crucial to be agile and ready for the next emerging trends: flexibility can be the difference between success and failure.
Chris Brook-Carter – CEO at Retail Trust – hosted this RWB 2022 panel discussion. Guest speakers included Adam Colasanto, Director of Consumer Intelligence at Vizit, Lars Fiddy, Client Development Director at Dexi, Roman Vorobiev, Global Design Director, and Helena Carre, Real Time Digital Performance Director at Mars Petcare.
Watch the full session on our YouTube channel.