Shady Fran­cis

RTB House’s for e-com­merce

Campaign Middle East - - CONTENTS -

As the world of e-com­merce con­tin­ues to be dom­i­nated by emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, we set out to pre­dict the top trends we’ll see this year, per­haps even in the next few months. Mar­keters shouldn’t ex­pect any slow­down in e-com­merce tech­nol­ogy adop­tion. The dig­i­tal trends we were pre­dict­ing this time last year (in­clud­ing chat as­sis­tants, web apps and ma­chine learn­ing in dis­play ad­ver­tis­ing) are al­ready in wide use. Up­com­ing tech trends prom­ise to bring us closer to the holy grail of re­al­is­ing cus­tomer jour­neys that are fully co­he­sive, per­haps on rapidly ma­tur­ing plat­forms such as aug­mented re­al­ity (AR) and vir­tual re­al­ity (VR).

Off­line store shop­pers are still the ma­jor­ity for most re­tail brands, ac­cord­ing to a Re­tail Dive Con­sumer Sur­vey, where 62 per cent of re­spon­dents said they choose tra­di­tional stores over e-shops.

But there’s a very key dif­fer­ence from tra­di­tional modes: re­tail stores are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing dig­i­tally trans­formed, of­fer­ing highly con­nected and per­son­alised ser­vices to their guests. The e-com­merce gi­ant Ama­zon bought a whole chain of gro­cery stores and opened pop-up stores world­wide, but it doesn’t mean that we’re fac­ing an off­line rebirth.

These new re­tail stores are em­ploy­ing the same per­son­al­i­sa­tion tech­niques, ma­chine learn­ing and data col­lec­tion points that e-com­merce mar­keters are fa­mil­iar with. Con­sumers have come to ex­pect a deeper shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence, so typ­i­cal floor sales and dis­counts are not enough. Brick-and-mor­tar play­ers will have to digi­tise their phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture and be­gin im­ple­ment­ing new store fea­tures and for­mats based on cus­tomer con­ve­nience, with a strong dig­i­tal flavour. To keep up with the com­pe­ti­tion, e-com­merce brands with re­tail stores will need to trend to­wards con­nect­ing their phys­i­cal spa­ces with their dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search by cloud com­put­ing firm Sales­force, nearly half of all shop­pers would ap­pre­ci­ate if their pre­vi­ous search re­sults could be ac­ces­si­ble some­how in an off­line store, to make their visit more ef­fi­cient. Show­rooms and pop-up stores with­out proper dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and cus­tomer sup­port may leak rev­enues. Per­son­alised mes­sages and prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions are cru­cial in to­day’s cus­tomer jour­ney, and re­tar­get­ing cam­paigns present only rel­e­vant of­fers to the most promis­ing clients.

Last year showed us how ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) dis­rupted the world of dig­i­tal ser­vices and that ma­chine self-learn­ing pro­cesses pro­duce out­stand­ing re­sults. With these tech­nolo­gies in hand, the fu­ture be­longs to brands that can use them ef­fi­ciently to match cus­tomers’ ex­pec­ta­tions. Their search his­tory and needs are their most valu­able unique­ness, and the key to their heart is meeting them on any plat­form, in any space, per­son­alised with AI-based so­lu­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to Google, 85 per cent of on­line shop­pers start a pur­chase on one de­vice and fin­ish on an­other. We use smart­phones, tablets and desk­top screens, and in the near fu­ture maybe even our TV screens and VR head­sets. Con­sumers use these screens to find prod­ucts and ser­vices, com­pare prices and check re­views.

Brows­ing for in­for­ma­tion is part of the shop­ping process, and this can hap­pen on any dig­i­tal medium. Mar­keters know they need to be on all of these chan­nels, but di­vid­ing bud­get per de­vice can be a huge chal­lenge.

Since al­lo­ca­tion is no longer lin­ear, brands have to think of over­all user ex­pe­ri­ence and om­nichan­nel in­vest­ments. For ex­am­ple, so­cial dis­play can bring stronger vis­i­bil­ity, while reg­u­lar real-time bid­ding (RTB) cam­paigns con­vert that vis­i­bil­ity into ac­tion. In re­tail stores, bea­con tech­nol­ogy in com­bi­na­tion with per­son­alised con­tent and in­te­grated re­tar­get­ing cam­paigns can lead cus­tomers from the desk­top to their smart­phone to a fi­nal pur­chase in-store. As brands con­tinue to av­er­age nine cus­tomer con­tact chan­nels (ac­cord­ing to Di­men­sion Data), a mul­ti­chan­nel ap­proach is more im­por­tant than ever be­fore.

To max­imise this strat­egy, brands must be aware of the full po­ten­tial of ev­ery chan­nel, mon­i­tor­ing each de­vice cat­e­gory. Track­ing ad per­for­mance in terms of con­ver­sions, clicks or other met­rics will help to de­cide where to place more or less bud­get in fu­ture ef­forts.

Ju­niper Re­search fore­casts that more than $12bn of global ad spend a year will be spent on dig­i­tal as­sis­tants by 2021. It’s not sur­pris­ing, con­sid­er­ing the fact that al­most 40 per cent of mil­len­ni­als use Siri, Ama­zon Alexa or Google As­sis­tant on a daily ba­sis. They are sim­i­larly will­ing to have a video chat or use a chat­bot be­fore they make pur­chase. It shows a shift in on­line shop­ping be­hav­iours and en­ables mar­keters to seek for new ways to ap­proach their tar­get au­di­ence.

The role of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence has al­ready ap­peared in all in­dus­tries, but the truth is that there is still a lot to im­prove and achieve in this field. Data-driven mar­ket­ing based on deep learn­ing (the most promis­ing sub­field of AI) now can help es­ti­mate user bas­ket value. How­ever, new screens such as VR and AR of­fer novel pos­si­bil­i­ties to be part of the day-to-day of peo­ple’s lives.

This process isn’t re­stricted to just fol­low­ing the client. For ex­am­ple, the Ikea app en­ables an AR tool to dig­i­tally over­lay fur­ni­ture on a room. The idea is as sim­ple as it gets. Sophisticated tech­nol­ogy in the ser­vice of daily ba­sic sit­u­a­tions can bring a brand closer to the cus­tomers and turn them into loyal ad­vo­cates.

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