Manage your Ecommerce Pain Points with IT, Says Shamik Sharma
IT has created an unprecedented opportunity for new e-commerce companies. How are CIOs balancing this with added customer experience?
India has witnessed a dynamic shift in shopping behaviour over the last decade. The ecommerce industry has witnessed unprecedented growth over the last two years as it bridges gaps in the existing market. The digital commerce market in India has grown steadily from $4.4 billion to $13.6 billion in four years and is likely to touch $16 billion by the end of 2015. While opportunities for ecommerce companies are expanding, it is also easy to overlook aspects that may seem trivial like understanding the shopper and their behaviour, personalisation, and immediacy in communication. However, it's these very details that push you into the big picture.
Now, one has to deal with scalability, growth, efficiency and at the same time also offer the most effective solutions to engage customers. These challenges can be easily overcome if you invest intelligently in technology.
And how is that done?
Ecommerce leaders today have an added responsibility of understanding the business and industry well, and then applying the right technology. The main task for an e-tailer is to provide solutions that suits their business rather than getting the latest technology. The biggest challenge lies in offering solutions that are customer friendly and yet ensuring that it also makes business sense.
Here are some guidelines:
Simplify Transactions: We always strive to make online transaction easier for customers. Often, a purchase, return and exchange are considered as three separate processes. We found that combining product exchange and returns processes into a single transaction, helped in quickly resolving the issue. At the backend, it saves time and effort, resulting in cost savings. Meanwhile, this change translates into a smoother experience for shoppers as they are empowered to quick returns and exchange. Backed with cash/card on delivery, the transactions become more user-friendly and hassle-free.
Mobile Apps: A mobile-first approach is a game changer for ecommerce. Fashion purchases are often impulsive; give your audience an easy outlet to act on that impulse through mobile apps. No other medium currently offers the flexibility, seamless personalised experience and faster check-outs. Mobile apps work well even in low bandwidth conditions and assists quick decision-making. While mobile apps provide users with a seamless experience, it has an added advantage – it provides organization with information about the user’s personal interests, location and buying behaviour, making it easy to reach out to the customers directly with instant notifications and customised promotions and offers.
Analytics: Knowledge is power. Knowledge of the user’s interest and behaviour pattern offers a customise experience to the shoppers. Understanding trends that are not profitable to your business enables you to steer it into a better direction before any business damage is done. Getting insights on the customer’s buying patterns helps customizing the product and pricing, eventually resulting in business gains. Data analytics and recommendation engines understand what kind of products the customer is inclined to buy, and accordingly advises. Ensuring the right products lands on the users' page resulting in higher conversions.
Make it Easy for Customers: Offer value-added features to customers. We recently introduced an alteration feature that allows customers to get the product altered after delivery. With minimal human involvement, the system analyses cost effectiveness by taking into consideration cities where we have a delivery team. Besides, in India, lack of standardized sizes leaves customers confused. Majority of returns and exchanges are due to sizing issues. Here, again, technology can be used to convert a particular brand's size into a relatable size chart. We are also working on a Sizing Profile feature that offers customised suggestions for fitting, based on the customer’s earlier purchases.
Engage with customers: We have an opportunity to engage with customers like never before. With the rise of mobile and social technologies, online shoppers are always connected, placing them in control of their own experience. Ecommerce players can provide real-time, personalized experiences that reach customers when they need it - in the form of mobile push notifications for promoting sales, offers based on a customer’s location, email confirmation for an order etc. Myntra has been driving customer engagement with customised content through its fashion blog and social media. We have also launched product videos where potential customers can see how a garment flows on a person, giving a real-time look of the product.
The beauty of technology is that it is always evolving, which offers tremendous opportunities to CIOs and Product heads to constantly explore new avenues and overcome challenges. The first to crack these challenges walks away with a huge chunk of loyal customers.