CMS-Connected’s first ever podcast is here! We’re finally letting you all in on the conversations Gabriella Pirrone and I have surrounding current headlines, various industry trends and highlights from our many conversations with the best and brightest minds in the world of digital business.
Our first topic is a favorite of ours, the one most often brought up within the walls of our shared office here at CMS-Connected. What we should maybe warn you about is just how very excited we are to have this conversation. Perhaps it’s my interest in how various brands are innovating or Gabriella’s knack for online shopping apps but the trends and technologies shaping the eCommerce market today is a hot topic for us.
For those who want the classic, audio-only podcast experience, you can listen here:
What We Talked About
To start things off, we went into one of my favorite things to think about in relation to eCommerce, the potential for voice and IoT. I referenced my great conversation with Harry Chemko, the CEO and Founder of Elastic Path, in how IoT devices will change in the next few years, how brands can look at strategies differently in relation to B2C versus B2B and finally, Gabriella brought up another chat I had with Nate Barad, the Head of Product at BloomReach in how IoT can no longer be a ‘hand-wavy’ promise. The agencies and vendors assisting brands in creating their eCommerce strategy need to be able to deliver on the needs of IoT for brands to take full advantage of everything it has to offer.
Next, we went deeper into technology and how, in relation to some recent eCommerce headlines, AR and AI are letting brands take their strategies to almost polar-opposite extremes. I of course mean how Starbucks removed all online retail from their site late last year with the intention to increase foot-traffic in store compared to Inditex, the global retailer that owns the Zara chain among others announcing by 2022 all of their product would be sold only online with few, if any stores to speak of.
We weigh the pros and cons of those diverse strategies and then reference Sephora as a standout digital brand that has been able to leverage AR and AI to push the boundaries of digital transformation in the prestige cosmetics market. This is also when I admit, on record, if we meet at an event and I am asking how your business works with a certain brand, it’s an indication I love what they’re doing digitally and want to hear about the thought process behind it.
Our third topic is tackling social media’s role in the eCommerce strategy. Social as a valid touchpoint is nothing new but we weigh the pros and cons of Instagram’s interest in emerging as an eCommerce platform all by itself. Gabriella brings up the great point of whether they shouldn’t ‘quit their day job’ of being the fantastic friend to eCommerce with its shopping feature available on static posts and stories.
Our last topic is where we dove into mobile strategy and which brands have been really excelling in that area. We again reference Starbucks but this time, we go back to an interview I had with Ed Kennedy, the Senior Director of Commerce at Episerver as he pointed out they have such a great way of engaging through mobile but the consumer data they gain becomes knowledge to consistently elevate their experience. As an avid Starbucks mobile app user, Gabriella added great context to this in what she has always loved about their use of mobile with customers. This is also where Sephora comes in again with their mobile app acting as an in-store assistant in their customer’s hand and I point out, given my experience in prestige beauty retail, how this addresses a pain-point for higher-end cosmetics in addition to all the other great attributes it has regarding online/offline experience.
To wrap up our conversation on mobile, I mention a great episode of a podcast I frequently listen to, the WSJ Tech News Briefing, and their description of how TGI Friday’s was able to leverage AI and mobile to target customers more efficiently and see quite a jump in their revenue.
Lastly, while some may feel this topic is a bit predictable, it’s tough to have a conversation about eCommerce and not discuss Amazon, the ever-present 800lb gorilla in that room. However, given that Amazon accounted for around 4% of the total retail sales figure for the U.S. in 2017, I would say that gorilla is nearing a metric ton. Though in our opinion, Amazon as a topic of discussion should not be quieted in the eCommerce conversation anytime soon.
Thinking critically about the cause and effect of Amazon on the market should always be top of mind but we state our opinion on the notion of Amazon owning everything and being ‘The Everything Store’. Before it ends I may have let you all in on the one question I would ask Jeff Bezos given the chance and cheered innovators on to ‘buck the system’ and use Amazon as an inspiration to create rather fear but I like to think with both of those ideas, I am not alone.
Our next podcast will dive into the larger market of Digital Experience, and just might feature an exciting guest! Our specific topic is yet to be determined but if you have any ideas on future podcasts, please don’t hesitate to reach out!