Stephen Hamill, Vice President, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle Asia Pacific & Japan
2018 came to a close at a time when consumers in Asia-Pacific flocked to popular e-commerce sites to maximise deals from hefty discounts, since the Singles’ Day in November to “12.12”, and to Christmas – the grand finale of last year’s shopping season.
Amidst the popularisation of online shopping sprees during the holiday season, customers are leaving traces of their digital footprints and preferences across multiple channels ranging from desktop, mobile, and even brick-and-mortar stores. With data on customers’ virtual shopping carts, payment preferences, social profiles, and even internet browsing histories, retailers stand a chance to understand their customers better. But there’s a challenge too: how to make sense and make use of the data gathered to create the ultimate best customer experience?
This is where the opportunity for marketers arises— to leverage data and evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled cloud services to enable real-time decision making based on live data feeds. This will help businesses across the region use this information to build the personalised, data-driven and secure customer experience that’s not just a possibility, but an absolute necessity.
Connecting Online and Offline Experiences
More and more customers today expect a personalised, seamless cross-channel approach to their shopping, whether that’s in-store or online. According to Oracle’s recently published Topography of Retail report, 74 percent of consumers want “knowledgeable in-store staff that could meet their specific needs quickly”, while 64 per cent of consumers from emerging markets including China and India said they loved the idea of virtual reality “try on” apps, for personalised shopping experiences. Imagine looking online for the perfect birthday gift and then going into a store the next day, to find a shop assistant who points you towards the gift you were looking for. That’s the level of cross-channel expectation we’re gearing towards.
Data, when analysed correctly, is at the heart of this genuinely connected customer experience. It allows brands to effectively establish an understanding of their customers by analysing existing behaviours, so they can give favourable, precise recommendations quickly, based on the results. In other words, brands are now able to put customers at the centre and data at their core.
Here Comes the AI Revolution
AI is making data-powered personalisation possible.
Using cloud services powered by a combination of emerging technologies led by AI, machine learning and blockchain, retailers and brands are able to build a detailed understanding of a consumer’s behaviour both within their stores and across their online channels, as well as understanding their likes and behaviours beyond their shopping experiences. With this information, marketers can create appropriate content, specifically targeted to their audiences and delivered during key daily purchasing moments. The art is to make it so that, product and front office – i.e. marketing, commerce, sales, service and back office, i.e. supply chain, finance, logistics, are one seamless intelligent, self-learning and self-optimising ecosystem.
Connecting Data Cross-Platforms
Looking beyond targeted offers, it is also essential to bring all data related to customers in one centralised location, especially if you want to improve service efficiency and accuracy. To deliver exceptional experiences, companies need a reduction in silos and make it easier for themselves to access the information they need when the customer experience and employees expect and need it.
Companies need to connect context to the physical and utilise insights gathered to be more predictive in the products develop, the supply chain delivery mechanisms, the metrics they measure, and the business and experiences they ultimately deliver to their customers.
In this era of the increasingly savvy consumer, keeping customers’ loyalty and interest is a top priority. Launched in 2013, In Good Company is a homegrown fashion brand in Singapore which offers timeless and classic wardrobe silhouettes with a twist – made to last beyond seasonal trends and to suit modern lifestyles. In recent years, the brand has expanded to include more lifestyle options in its stores—such as in-storecafés by Plain Vanilla Bakery and Birds of Paradise, homewares, and lifestyle goods.
With customer loyalty at the heart of its strategy, the label sought to capitalise on the power of data by having a single viewpoint and using insights for personalized, targeted marketing. By moving from traditional processes to cloud, In Good Company is now able to leverage marketing automation solutions such as Responsys to provide targeted, personalized newsletters for its frequent shopper program, as part of its customer strategy.
Bangkok Airways has become the first airline in Thailand to deploy the Oracle Service Cloud to help improve its customer service and engagement. The carrier expects the software to help it quickly identify and respond to requests and incidents, minimising any disruption to customers’ travel plans and improving the customer experience through greater visibility supporting informed decisions. Agents and supervisors can now route, track and audit emails, and generate reports to measure the performance of the incident resolution process and agents themselves.
It’s about Trust
While all these innovations are available right now, companies still need to carefully adopt this innovation while ensuring customer trust.
Over 90 per cent of consumers in developing markets, such as India or China, and nearly half in developed markets, such as the US or Australia, that Oracle spoke to, said it was important that they themselves had control over the personal information that retailers held on them. So, while one in three customers in Australia, New Zealand and India would welcome a personalised digital experience based on previous interactions with brands, there has to be boundaries.
With the digital revolution in full swing, it has made things like ‘product availability’ a non-issue. As such, consumers can now choose to go with the brands that give them convenience, service, and the experience that they really appreciate; a brand that they can really trust.
The continuous pursuit of customer happiness remains at the heart and core of companies. As many customers are demanding the future now, companies need to either predict their needs or lose them. Marketers are not necessarily advertisers. The innovations businesses share in common include being the voice of the customer – not the voice to the customer. With the help of emerging technologies including AI-enabled cloud solutions, companies can and will find more value from data, and ultimately, up their game in perfecting the digitally-transformed customer experience journey.