AI Revolutionising the Retail Industry

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the technologies that will greatly affect the retail industry and could help them save as much as $340 billion annually by 2022.

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Source: Emarketer

Companies in the retail industry are implementing AI technology to improve efficiency of their supply chain planning, demand forecasting, customer intelligence, marketing management, store operations and pricing and promotions.

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Source: Software Advice

Amazon has a large database that uses machine learning, leading to a more accurate predictive analysis and increased personalisation hence better serving their customers with targeted recommendations.  As such, they are able to make deliveries within 1-2 days . Being the leader of this industry, companies should keep up with Amazon’s standard and aim to have their own innovative system and technology to have a competitive advantage, unique to their own to create a differentiation.

AI  provides insights of their behaviour and trends that could aid management in making informed and accurate decisions such as dedicating their marketing and promotional efforts to serve specific customers and building a relationship with them. To be continually persuasive, constant improvements and enhancement of customer experience is also paramount to maintaining loyalty.

To prevent extinction and to remain at the head of the game, retail companies should integrate AI into their marketing strategies. By understanding its consumers, AI would have the ability to identify new revenue streams where the company could use as an opportunity to expand its market through creating new uses to its products and targeting a new segment.

However, when implementing AI, companies have to be wary of algorithmic bias, which could not only lead to inaccurate decisions and be detrimental to the company.

What other benefits do you think AI would bring in the near future? Let me know!

-E.

Email Marketing Integrating AI

Email marketing is cost effective and results are easily measured. In 2018, it has generated 4400% ROI for businesses. Almost 70% of businesses spend their money and time on email marketing, reaching those who have opted in and are interested in the company’s products.

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Source: Campaign Monitor 

It has been found that 61% of consumers prefer to be contacted by brands through email
and 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing
message. To continue to influence purchase decisions, brands should continuously use email as one of their marketing strategies and enhance personalisation and engagement to increase conversion rate.

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Source: Optinmonster

Email marketing is value for money and is not dying out, unlike what many believe, and people check their emails more than social media first thing in the morning. Companies should integrate both these strategies as they are more powerful together by leveraging off each other. Cross promotion helps their brand message reach more audiences and help remain in consumer’s consideration set. To make it even more powerful, companies should integrate AI to better target and serve their customers by humanising a brand through understanding and recommendations, building a relationship that could increase brand loyalty.

 

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Source: ConversionXL 

For example, Amazon personalises emails by addressing customers by their names, reminds them of their abandoned shopping cart to encourage purchases and offers them new recommendations and discount opportunities based on the products the consumers have previously viewed or bought.

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Source: The Manifest

It is also important for companies who uses this marketing technique to be mindful and only advertising to those who has opted in, avoiding spam that would be detrimental to society, be filtered out by email providers and at a frequency that would not annoy its consumers.

Have you made purchases through email advertisements? What about it interests you most to influence your purchase decision?

-E.

Influencer Marketing

As social media takes over the internet, many brands in the fashion and beauty industry are now leveraging those whom are connected with more than 10k followers, also known as ‘influencers’. There are many similar products with similar benefits and it has become a competition of who has a better representative.

71% of people are more likely to make purchase online if the product is recommended by others. Instagram itself influences almost 75% of purchase decisions.

This shows that Instagram is essential for shaping a brand’s image and awareness, considering majority of the people refers to it before purchase. A brand could leverage this existing trust between the influencer and their followers, contributing to the brand’s production of content and giving access to an audience brands may not be able to independently.

For example, Tammy Hembrow was promoting the home tanning product, Bondi Sands, on her Instagram as her preparing for Coachella musical festival. She is known and admired for her beauty and lifestyle, with 9 million followers, gaining 5000 a day.

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Source: Instagram

However, people make mistakes and that can cause detriment to the brand. During
Coachella, Tammy Hembrow was videoed to be passed out drunk. There was backlash from the public that could have caused a reduction in trust and reputability in her and affecting the brands she represents.

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Source: Dailymail

Therefore, aside from using tools like SocialBlade’s statistics summary on how much traction an influencer gains, it is important to choose a representative influencers through a relational approach. This includes researching their public history, interviewing their future plans or having a mutual understanding. Brands should consider ones that best aligns with their brand image and message to prevent being collateral damage. Conversion rates should also be measured to evaluate effectiveness of investment.

How vast or often are your purchases influenced by influencer marketing? How effective do you think it is?

-E.

Utilising Social Media

Social media marketing has become a very effective strategy, where brands could use tools like sentiment analysis to know what the public thinks of them and also a platform to advertise to reach more target audience, increase exposure  and to drive traffic.

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Source: 2018 Yellow Social Media Report 

2018 Yellow Social Media Report states 8 out of 10 people now use social media. 64% of
consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it interacts positively on social media. This would mean that it is evident for brands to be positively active on social media to increase its credibility and improve reputation.

Consumers have been taking their opinions online, regardless good or bad. Hence, Domino’s has decided to use Facebook to listen to their customers’ feedback and satisfaction by encouraging them to post on Domino’s Facebook page.

Social media is a platform where brands could build relationships with their customers by humanising the brand and creating customer lifetime value. Hence, empathising with the customers could help brands control and mitigate bad situations, rectifying problems positively, quickly and efficiently.

With thousands of stores worldwide, it is difficult for to manage and maintain all product quality and employees. When Domino’s consumers receive unsatisfactory quality of pizza, some of them publicly badmouth and discredit the brand.

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Source: Office Xpress

Social media greatly broadens the brand’s exposure, but also increases their vulnerability. Organisations need to turn this vulnerability into strength and make use of these insights to better themselves and turn it into future profits, like Domino’s did, and reshape their brand image through the same platform bringing improvements to consumer’s attention.

Source: YouTube

Social media is immediate, worldwide and timeless. Organisations need to be prompt to
rectify any queries or problems, be relatable to their consumers and offer appropriate
compensation.

Do you know other brands that have gotten the good, the bad and the ugly from social
media?

-E.

The Digital Wallet

Companies are shifting towards accepting digital wallets as it has helped increased customer conversion rates by being a more secure, convenient and faster form of payment. Mobile payments are expected to top $500 billion by 2020.

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Source: Agilie

Consumers now favour convenience, alongside online shopping and cashless payment methods. According to the figure above, e-commerce is showing no signs of slowing down. This shows that online shopping and the use of digital wallets may become the new norm, which businesses would need to adapt to this growing preference and behaviour.

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Source: Payments Industry Intelligence

Companies should adopt digital wallet payments because it is believed that physical money might phase out in the next 20 years. To be the early adopters of digital wallets could encourage purchase because of the convenience and safety it brings.

If someone steals your phone, or your laptop, without proper identification, the theft would not be able to access your monetary assets. Merchants also would not be able to access the consumer’s details and transactions information can’t be tied back to them hence fraudulent behaviours would be reduced. This increased trust could encourage sales.

Digital wallet is convenient but sometimes because of it, we are being charged more by a certain percentage. Hence, companies should be transparent about their charges and select implementation of digital wallets that best suit them.

I would recommend companies to accept as many types of digital wallet payments that is to their benefit as it reduces wait time for both customer and the company, improving customer experience. They could encourage the usage of digital wallets through discounts or loyalty cards linked to that wallet.

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Source: Statista 2019

Do you use a digital wallet? What do you think of it gaining traction and becoming a norm? Let me know!

-E.

New Retail Strategy: Alibaba

Source: WSJ

Online transactions from Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce business, was reported to have totaled more than eBay and Amazon combined. However, its fast and widespread reach and lead their e-commerce strategy into maturity, prompting a new one: “New Retail” strategy – combining both online and offline locations.

The “New Retail” strategy is an ecosystem of digital services which aims to have no distinction between online and offline shopping, that is by digitalising traditional retail shops. They have enhanced customer experience through implementing augmented reality, AI and facial recognition.

‘How?’, you ask? Watch this short video on “Alibaba’s New Retail Strategy” that explains it all:

 

With New Retail Strategy, consumers are better targeted, understood and served online and offline. A personalised recommendations and precise search results would increase customer satisfaction and purchases, decrease product returns and reduce cognitive dissonance. Consumers could also shop anywhere, anytime.

This means that it is of increasing importance for brands to encourage webrooming and showrooming behaviour by having its stores integrated and creating a indistinguishable experience by being seamless.

This puts pressure on the retail industry to invest in more innovative technologies that would better serve customers and providing them a delightful experience. It is important for companies to focus on the customer journey as consumers now are purchasing based on these experiences rather than the product itself.

With technology, they also need to ensure that technical support and update is prompt, reducing technical downtime that would backfire from its intended goal.

As Alibaba makes its way into Australia, what suggestions would you provide to help them ensure its survival?

-E.

Why did Uber not work in Southeast Asia?

Uber is a powerhouse with strong brokerage business model strategies in the sharing economy that has brought it to dominate the transportation industry with ride-hailing, peer-to-peer ride sharing, food delivery and bicycle-sharing system. So, why didn’t Uber work in Southeast Asia?

Uber has failed to adapt.

Uber disrupted the industry by causing a 10% fall in income among salaried drivers but a 50% rise in the number of self-employed drivers. It has created more jobs than it has destroyed as it created new financial opportunities such as flexible working hours. Unlike the infamous protests, Uber’s business model is improving the economy more than harming it.

Grab, one of Uber’s biggest competitors, launched GrabBike, which are motorcycle taxis that could weave through traffic, saving time. Uber only implemented the same thing 17 months later.

For years, Uber only accepted credit cards that has been linked to the app and for people who are not tech-savvy, that was a problem. In the Southeast Asian culture, cash was the way to go. Grab was established and ran from local grounds, they understood that that was what locals preferred and cash payment was what Grab started with and had greatly succeeded.

This shows that it is not only important to create a business model that is strong fundamentally, it needs to be easily adaptable in different cultures, especially multi-national companies. This is to ensure its success and longevity, entering and dominating a market with full understanding and ability to serve that market.

What else do think Uber should have done?

-E.

SEO vs SEM

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is using various techniques to optimise your website to gain traffic by ranking higher than other websites in the search engine results page (SERP) – E.g. Google. Search engine’s algorithm considers factors like user experience, relevant web content, variety of back links etc. and understanding your consumers to put you at the top.

Source: Search Engine Land

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also known as “advertising through a paid media budget” (Emergent Digital, 2019), refers to buying advertisements on search engines to put their websites above every other website, including those of top ranks.

This shows that a cross promotion of both techniques could help increase brand awareness. While having high rank organic search results is important, brands in industries with very strong competition, switching ranks among different product searches, would need both as reinforcement, maintaining top rank.

Example:
Keyword Search: Face Masks

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Source: Google

When you are a company as big as Sephora, you wouldn’t want to take the chance of being number 2 and your competitors are constantly keeping you on your toes.
Sephora has a paid advertisement for ‘Face Masks’, but also the top-ranking website. This shows that the competition is strong and there may have been days Sephora has been overtaken. By having both websites being at the top could enforce Sephora’s position as being a strong brand that should be a top-of-mind brand and default choice for consumers.

Utilising both digital marketing techniques to maintain Sephora’s ranking and to be a go-to beauty product brand to consumers, what other techniques do you think Sephora could use to strengthen their current position? Let me know!

-E.

Digital Innovation: Amazon Go

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Source: Digital Disruption (Skog et. al,
2018)

By definition from TechTarget, digital disruption is “the change that
occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services”.

To meet increasingly demanding customer expectations, firms are constantly trying to research and invent new digital technology to improve our quality of life and finding solutions to problems we did not know we had.

With digitally disruptive business models, the typical brick-and-mortar business operations with customer service staffs are now arguably necessary. Innovative business models shift with consumers preference and behaviours, which may stray away from the traditional method of shopping.

We barely need services from bank tellers, self-checkouts reduced cashiers, cars are starting to be driverless, travel immigration has facial recognition. So, what next? Amazon Go.

 

Amazon Go is a supermarket by Amazon with “Just Walk Out Technology”, where you basically scan your Amazon app at the entry, grab whatever you like in the store and just walk out. With high-tech facial recognition, RFID chips, electronic sensors etc., you’ll have a virtual cart that is automatically updated and transacted.

This would confirm that cashiers may no longer necessary. With such innovative and advanced technology, many companies should be following this trend by implementing AI in the next few years to prevent itself from going extinct. It can be seen that technology enhances and creates a seamless consumer experience which would be the future of shopping, integrating online and offline techniques.

With strong competitors like Coles and Woolworths, do you think Amazon Go should be
brought to Australia?

-E.

Age of digitalisation: Convenience at what cost?

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Source: Orleans Marketing Group

Some of the 35 facts and statistics gathered by Orleans Marketing Group that I found interesting:

  1. More than 570 new websites are created every minute
  2. There are 3.5 billion searches per day on Google
  3. Facebook has more than 2 billion active users who have an average of 155 friends
  4. 340,000 tweets are sent per minute
  5. Over 4.2 billion data records were stolen in 2016

From these facts, we could see that massive amount of data are being entered into the internet every minute, which was then stolen and used without consent. Companies stealing this data could use it to better our lives, or they could be of detriment to society by taking part in fraudulent behaviours.

Our subconscious choices of what we select to browse reflects and develops a virtual version of us in our phones. Have you ever wondered, “how did they know I needed this?”?

A phone is now a single platform where downloaded apps are interconnected by sharing and using our personal data that we’ve previously entered.

With data being collected overtime, data mining can help predict an individual’s interest and search patterns. Therefore, subjecting us to personalised products that are being digitally marketed via mobile advertising.

The data that they have collected from us has become an organisation’s secret weapon. They start knowing us better than we know ourselves through algorithms that forms and predicts a pattern many of us have yet to understand. Sometimes, they even find a solution to a problem you didn’t know you had, marketing products you never knew existed or needed.

Threading on this thin line, do you think digital sharing and using personal information enhances your quality of life or do you feel like it invades your privacy that could be potentially misused or stolen?

-E.