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Data analytics: the cornerstone of new customer service paradigm

With Indian eCommerce industry in the midst of fierce competition, major players are undertaking innovative measures to stay ahead of the pack. In this context, retailers are placing huge bets on analytics to deliver personalized user experience and create brand loyalty

By- Ankit Khanna, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Snapdeal

The eCommerce sector has seen unprecedented growth in the last couple of years, driven by rapid technology adoption, increasing use of smartphones and rising Internet penetration, leading to a growing customer base. This coupled with the availability of diverse products, seamless and rapid delivery services and attractive deals, have led
to customers preferring online shopping in place of traditional shopping. eCommerce is a fast evolving industry and technological disruption has steered change in the industry with shoppers embracing multiple touchpoints in their purchase journeys. One key factor for this is the transformation of mobile device from serving elementary purpose of text messaging, etc, to value-added services like mCommerce, mobile payments etc.

While this presents a huge business opportunity for eCommerce it comes with its share of challenges like customer retention, need for superior user experience with respect to seamless transaction, etc. The eCommerce industry is in the midst of intense transformation, companies need to undertake innovative measures to remain ahead of the curve and deal with increasing competition. As the competition intensifies, the aware and empowered customers are spoilt for choices. eCommerce firms must roll out services beyond standard offerings and deliver an engaging customer experience to retain this new generation of customers. Run-ofthe- mill services are considered passé in today’s age. And this is where data analytics comes into play, as it empowers companies to differentiate their services with respect to customers by focusing on personalization to deliver tailored services. Data analytics not only helps companies gain real time insights into customer buying behavior and offer personalized user experience but also streamlines/enhances the way in which shoppers search for product information and make purchase decisions.

DELIVERING PERSONALIZED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Going by the current industry trend, companies need to ensure
constant renewal of the marketing strategy by studying the data regularly, understanding customer behavior, and then using it for retaining and growing the existing customer base. This in turn can help organizations personalize individual user experience. User segmentation also allows a company to target specific groups of customers effectively and allocate marketing resources to best effect. With the growing demand for next-generation analytics in India, eCommerce players need to establish long-term relationships with customers through intent management rather than life-cycle management. From a technology perspective, the only way to go about this is managing customer experience—by introducing a new offering or a service that suits their personal needs. It is therefore imperative for eCommerce firms to increasingly focus on analytics to unify data from traditional and big data and derive valuable insights.

The need of the hour is to deliver personalized services by deploying data analytics to analyze the vast repertoire of data to create bespoke offers, reduce customer churn, andgain insights into revenue enhancement opportunities. For example, if a customer is shopping for a smartphone, the analytics engine identifies this and subsequently crunches the data to recommend some accessories like earphones, phone cover, etc, which would probably be the next item the customer might require, post buying a phone. Similarly, if a customer has just purchased a refrigerator, the system would automatically suggest a stabilizer specifically for that product. This further helps to track insights generated by looking at recommendation patterns from millions of customers and visitors, akin to crowdsourcing, to further personalize the suggestions.

THE ROAD AHEAD
According to Assocham ‘e-Commerce 2.0: Scope and Future Potential’ report, the Indian eCommerce industry is likely to grow at a CAGR of 35% and is poised to cross the $100-bn mark in value over the next five years. With improvement in infrastructure such as logistics, broadband and Internet-ready devices, there is likely to be a significant
increase in the number of customers making purchases online. It is estimated that around 65 mn customers in India will buy online in 2015, as against around 40 mn in 2014 as many customers will prefer the web to brick-and-mortar retailers in large part because of better online offers. With online shopping becoming mainstream in India,
brands and retailers are increasingly looking at multiple avenues to be visible to the customer at every channel of trade including eCommerce, mobile Commerce, and even social commerce. Adoption of innovative technologies with the interplay of social, mobility, analytics, cloud (SMAC), digital, 3D, virtualization, and social commerce will make a remarkable impact on online businesses. The future of eCommerce is bright and growth is expected from mobile platforms, personalization, social media analytics and omni-channel service.

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