ShopTalk Melbourne: Customer-Enabling Technology

By Sam Gopal | 09 Jul 2015

Industry peers convened last night to hear a panel discussion on the topic of customer-enabling technology and how retailers can make it easier for customers to shop.

Amblique sponsored this week’s ShopTalk event held at the Honey Bar in Clarendon Street, South Melbourne, where e-commerce professionals gathered to hear industry experts discuss their experiences in the field of customer-enabling technology.

Last night’s event played host to Jon Bovard, Global Head of E-Commerce and Omnichannel at 2XU, Brad Foenander, Head of E-Commerce at Coles and Nicola Clement, Manager, Digital Channels at Jeststar.

Foenander talked about Cole’s hiku device designed to create a seamless in-home shopping experience, through the use of a hand-held device featuring a barcode scanner and voice recognition. The idea is that household members can use voice commands to automatically add items to a digital shopping list via a Coles’ smartphone app, or go a step further and add an item directly into the Coles Online shopping cart.

When talking to the challenges of customer-enabling technology, particularly with mobile that the company has witnessed a significant uplift in use of, Foenander said that basket sizes present issues on mobile, and that developments need to be made to allow for the easy modification of orders on mobile.

“The customer’s shopping journey takes time,” Foenander explained. “I have four kids, just tell me what I need and make the experience as fun as possible. And give me time back!

“At Coles, we have the luxury of being able to trial things so long as we’re hitting the right balance of serving the needs of our customers, suppliers and the broader business. We mustn’t lose sight of our customers; we have to understand the customer experience and work out how the technology fits that.”

Bovard explained that 2XU had been working hard not only to create a single e-commerce platform globally, but on getting the basics right. Equally, he recognised that the company is not cutting-edge when it comes to innovation, and that the company invests in a SaaS model to drive the innovation on the company’s behalf.

“Retention is key. Growing our customer database and creating more targeted emailing, based on purchasing behaviours to create the most relevant user journey, represents the bread and butter of our business,” he said.

“Ship from store is both under-valued and under-used by retailers, and presents a good opportunity to recoup lost online sales due to a lack of stock. Shipping from store multiplies inventory by 10, and puts your conversion 20-30 points higher. It’s a commercial upside that businesses are missing out on.

“Additionally, sophistication in the delivery experience needs to be better. We need to deliver a personalised, one-to-one experience as offered by a retail store.”

Also speaking to the challenges the company faces, Bovard explained: “We have a list of ideas when it comes to customer-enabling technology. But we are restricted by an IT system preventing them from coming to fruition.”

Clement, who has been with Jetstar for only three months, but comes with a wealth of retail experience with brands including Forever New, Kathmandu and Quiksilver, spoke to Jetstar’s test and learn philosophy.

“Jetstar fosters a culture of agile development for driving technologies, particularly in the mobile space, with its push notifications for web check-ins, and with its self-serve kiosks,” she explained.

Jetstar’s ‘Price Watch’ functionality, whereby a customer is emailed once a price point is hit has proven successful for the company, as has its cart abandonment strategy that has been rolled out across one of its 21 sites and is exceeding expectations, particularly with its ancillary revenue, which has increased as a percentage of sales.

Referring to a BA app she used, through which she received push notifications in English on landing overseas to inform her what baggage carousel to go to, Clement said: “Beacons are there to support the travel experience and make customers lives more convenient. The mobile device is centric to customer-enabling technology moving forward.”

Pertinent to the discussions of the evening was data, and it appears the gap between obtaining it and working out how to leverage it to offer a more personalised customer experience remains large.

“We envisage a future of hyper-personalisation,” said Clement. “We want to streamline the checkout to reward our loyal customers and make it easier for them to do business with us.

“The biggest complexity we face is how the data we have flows between all the pieces of technology we have in the digital ecosystem. We want to create open APIs to store data and let customers tailor the experience. We want to bring omnichannel to the travel world.”

Foenander concurred, saying: “The whole Internet of Things technologies will simplify the home experience. We need to predict elements using data to provide a more personalised experience, applying the technology and insights from the retail world into the home.

“The foundation lies in the data. But it needs to be quality, and it needs to be integrated, to present a full view for the customer’s benefit.”

The next ShopTalk event in Melbourne will be on December 2nd and on the topic of content, video and storytelling. 

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