Category: BUSINESS

25 Feb 2019

Must Have Digital Features for LifeStyle Brands

Fashion, Apparel and Footwear Industries in the United States are scaling steadily from 323 billion USD in 2013 to an anticipated 353 billion USD in 2018 (source: Statista). Interestingly, the US market witnessed a 13% increase in the number of stores closed in the year 2017, as compared to the previous recession back in 2008, despite the current rise of overall industry revenue (source: Fung Global Retail & Technology).

The increased use of mobile and web channels are pushing lifestyle brands to revisit their customer engagement and conversion strategies. Some of the must have features that lifestyle brand manufacturers and retailers should consider in their digital commerce strategy are:

  • Today: Personalization
  • Near Future: Conversational Commerce
  • Not So Far Future: Augmented Reality

Today: Personalization

Personalization in the eCommerce context means tailoring the user’s experience on the website based on the previous interactions and transactions. Research shows that offering personalized content can help increase the average order size by more than 20 percent (source: SAP hybris).

It is vital to collect personal and clickstream data and more importantly, to use the collected data properly for enhancing the customer’s experience by showing them personalized offers and content.

Customer demands are changing – the ability to search for products via different means (like text search, barcode search, image search, voice search), demanding competitive pricing, fast checkout & delivery and personalized shopping experience that meets their mobile first approach. These are some of the basics eCommerce offerings now.

Few types of personalized experiences that can be offered on the website are as follows:

  • Recommendations based on a customer’s previously purchased items
  • Recommendations based on browsing history, reminding customers of products they’ve shown interest in
  • Displaying recommendations/offers related to a previously browsed product or category

In addition to personalization on the web, there is another area that needs to be personalized too – Emails. Listed below are examples of topics that can be used to engage with the customer via personalized emails.

  • Sending them offers on recently viewed products and categories
  • Reminding visitor about items in their abandoned carts
  • Newly launched products
  • Targeted Promotions

Near Future: Conversational Commerce

Evolution of Shopping:

From: In store purchases – physically experiencing the touch and feel of the product

To: Online Orders – virtually experiencing the product

And now: Voice Orders – just asking to buy the product

Out of the thousands of things you can do through a voice assistant, shopping is one of them. Voice Shopping revenue is expected to increase to $40 billion by 2022, up from $2 billion today (Source: PR Newswire).  The three most commonly shopped categories through voice are: grocery (20%), entertainment (19%) and electronics (17%). Clothing is fourth at 8% (Source: PR Newswire).

There is a tremendous potential to tap into this market for the lifestyle brands too. Just like other sales channels, it is vital to get the strategy right – from identifying the right opportunity, to providing the right messaging, to offering appropriate calls to action. Companies can start by enabling voice search on their existing mobile apps and websites, that will allow customers to search for specific products by just talking to their mobile phone. Outdoor gear and apparel retailer The North Face, saw an increase of 35% in their search conversion rate and a 24% increase in revenue from search, after implementing natural language and voice-enabled search on their European sites (Source: Retail Dive).

Not So Far Future: Augmented Reality

As lifestyle brands gear their digital strategy, it is crucial to address their customer’s pain points both from their brick & mortar stores and their online channels. One of them is being able to try on products to determine the best fit and look. In  Brick &  Mortar stores, it is frustrating when there is a line for the dressing room at anytime  and it even more so during the holiday rush. As a result many customers  just  give up and don’t purchase or end up buying online,  only to find the clothes don’t fit and  now they have to return the products. In either case, companies are providing poor customer experience and losing sales.

Thanks to Augmented Reality (the technology that enables superimposing objects like clothing on a person via the mobile phone’s camera), this problem can now be solved with the use of Apple’s ARkit and Google’s ARcore, development platforms for augmented reality. Many apparel and sunglasses companies have virtual try-ons or are working on introducing virtual try-ons for their websites and mobile apps. Introducing features like this will help increase the conversion rates on their websites, increase average order values, increase sales and significantly reduce returns.

Companies that have pioneered this technology fall into categories like beauty products (L’Oreal & Sephora), sunglasses (Smith Optics & Ray-Ban), furniture (Pottery Bran, Wayfair, Houzz & IKEA), footwear (Lacoste and Converse)  and last, but not the least, Amazon. In addition, Gap,  an iconic lifestyle brand, has also announced its plans to introduce virtual dressing rooms.

11 Feb 2019

When Brick meets Click

To frame it as a battle between brick-and-mortar and eCommerce is to miss the point.

Rise of online shopping, tech experiments and financial struggles are the dominant narrative elements of today’s retail industry. Just because people are less likely to walk through the doors of certain stores nowadays does not mean they’re not interested in stores in general.
The problem is that certain retailers have a harder time determining what those customers want in the first place. Big stores try to be something for everyone and they end up being nothing for anyone. Amid these shifts, smaller players can’t simply look the other way. They should be watching and learning from big retail’s shortcomings and viewing this moment as one filled with opportunity.

The shadow of eCommerce is overblown.

It’s an oversimplification to suggest that the reason retailers are closing is because people are shopping online. The truth is more complicated. When we think of eCommerce sales replacing brick-and-mortar sales, we don’t often think of it happening within a company. Retailers who pursue omnichannel strategies may just be taking business away from themselves. Macy’s online business represents 15 percent of their total sales, and yet they’re now closing 13 percent of their stores. That number’s too close to be coincidental.”

Purchasing behavior also varies too much from industry to industry. For example, 30 percent of transactions for technology products or services happen online, compared with only 16 percent of apparel sales. Instead, Off-price retailers (think T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack) have been thriving by comparison, competing on price and convenience even though they don’t have much of an online presence.

The landscape is fragmented

Online sales aren’t the only tech development shaking up retail. Today, you can sell nationally without a chain of stores and without owning any of your inventory or assets. You can outsource your call center and marketing campaigns. You can reach a large audience via social media. Or you can manufacture and sell your own products rather than selling through a third party. One category of retailers that are performing well today is made up of those that are competing on what’s cheaper, faster or easier. At the other end of the spectrum, there are retailers who have differentiated themselves by offering an exclusive product or experience.

“The way you win is you find opportunity, you find where there’s an unmet need, where you perceive scarcity, and you go after it in an unapologetic, very focused way. So being nimble, means being able to find those, take advantage of them, move out of them and move on to new ones, fast.”

Get to know your customers.

Knowing what your customers want is the first step to making them happy. A successful retailer is someone who can go in, scour the market and pick the best products to fit the personality of their store that openly matches the personality of the consumer who wants to shop in that store. The ability to drive your business based on the pulse of the consumer drives all the difference.

Stores are reaping years of poor customer service. Generally, people want someone to greet them and they want the store to be clean. But serving them beyond those bare minimum requirements is a prime opportunity to gain insights into what they want and seal the deal if they’re on the fence about a purchase.

Yes, there are going to be some customers who don’t want help but at the end of the day, if you’re not curious about everyone who you have coming in the door, you’re settling for crumbs when you could have the whole feast.

Customers shop for experiences

Personalization is key, but that goes beyond offering a combination of products that customers want. There is a desire for uniqueness is especially true of younger customers.

Every retailer should work to curate a one-of-a-kind experience, rather than a one-size-fits-all. Experience, in and of itself, is what today’s customers desire more than material possessions. If you want your customers to buy stuff from you, one strategy might be to frame it around an experience a customer might be gearing up for.

“A specialty retailer has the ability to say, ‘If you’re going on a trip, here are all these things together in one place. This all works together.’ A holistic attempt at creating this full package.”

Add value to Customers

Today, technology presents several options such as In-store beacons, Self-serve kiosks, Smart mirrors that enable virtual try-ons etc. Retailers should be wary of being lured by these superficial objects and ask themselves: “What value is this really adding for the customer? “If you know your customers, you’ll be less likely to experiment with irrelevant gimmicks that many customers will find pathetic, such as a DJ in the middle of a men’s department.
The internet is what has led customers to expect hyper-personalization, and as a niche retailer, you might benefit more from targeting tools than someone who sells to the masses. To build a solid foundation for your business, you must first identify your typical customer and tailor your marketing pitch accordingly. It’s better off being a leader than a follower, or doing something others aren’t.

Source:
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/292661

04 Feb 2019
Replenish your Digital Play – Supply Industries Digital Trends

Replenish your Digital Play – Supply Industries Digital Trends

Ecommerce Musings for Suppliers and Wholesalers

Based on the IBISWorld report, the equipment supplier industry sales, which includes Industrial Supplies Wholesaling, Farm Supplies Wholesaling and School Supplies Wholesaling, totals about $200B. Traditionally these industries cater to businesses, organizations and enterprises and have done business via catalogs, distribution centers, stores and customer support centers to drive the business. Long term client relationships are typical to these businesses, and are based on relationships, where in many cases, dedicated Sales Representatives help provide value to clients. For E.g. facilitating urgent shipping requests for certain items in an order or by providing alternative suggestions to out of stock or discontinued items; or providing insights into what the competitors are using.

By early 2000, customers became more empowered with increasing web connectivity enabling them to research any product as well as buy it online from their place of choice. Along with the online trend,  increased costs to maintain huge stores with inventory and staff, reduced margins and industry consolidation forced them to realize they needed to change the business model.

Recognizing the need to embrace the online channel, significant investments were made to bring the businesses online. These early sites typically were minimalistic home-grown solutions which simply exposed catalogs and allowed basic ordering of products. However, this quickly became a catch-up game of trying to stay on top of the competition by developing new features which led to a huge increase in infrastructure cost.

As a result of the cost increase in maintaining a homegrown solution, a steady movement started towards using specialized platforms and products optimized for this line of business which were further customized to suit their own specific needs. Taking it a step further, specialized external partners were called upon to maintain, manage and upgrade the platforms as well as to provide robust infrastructures to host the eCommerce channels

Changing Customer Expectations

Over the years changing customer expectations and new developments in technology has transformed the online business in the B2B space. Today’s business buyers expect same level of experience as when they buy stuff online at a personal level. They want to be empowered to make business decisions about something they want to buy and want multiple means to procure it.

  • Compelling UX
    Exposure to B2C facing sites has conditioned our brains to expect an efficient, intuitive, easy to use website which provides detailed and useful product information. A great personalized experience needs to be complemented by a customizable catalog, promotions and pricing.
  • Full eCommerce Experience
    This includes going beyond the essential B2B eCommerce features and providing capabilities like live chat, reviews, intelligent recommendations, real time access to inventory and  great customer support features to help with shipping, tracking and returns.

  • Omni Channel Support
    Today’s customers expect multiple ways to research and buy products and seek a similar experience be it via a store, online, mobile or catalog. The experience involves how fast they can access the site pages, the level of personalization, how helpful is the information they can get and how easy it is for them to process and place the order. The ability to shop and access the cart from any channel is important, this includes the website, mobile devices or a store where often times customers choose to click and pick up.
  • Great Search Capability
    Enhanced search with categorization, faceted navigation, and filtering along with auto complete features has become the minimal standard of expectation. With advancement in AI and Machine Learning, the search accuracy has improved and helps companies to provide accurate results that include relevant and dynamic recommendations for cross-sells and up-sells. In addition to having a robust site search, it is essential for companies to have an effective SEO strategy and implementation, so that the search engines display your products on the first page of the results.

Changing Customer Expectations
Some of the cutting-edge features beyond the current standard ones to look out for in a next generation B2B eCommerce site are given below

  • Capable Product Information Management Platform (PIM)
    PIM systems are a must-have for modern digital B2B businesses and must be tightly integrated with backend ERP systems and support a large number of products with various artifacts with the capability to configure, organize, manage and publish products. Also, support for product consolidation from multiple sources as well as the ability to syndicate products across other systems is essential. Additionally, support for mass updates, imports or exports based on filtering criteria also helps.
  • Creative Ways to Customize Carts
    Modern digital commerce cart should empower the customers and make it easier to place orders with features like bulk ordering, reordering and subscriptions/auto ordering features. Additionally, enabling customers to save pre-configured bundles or the ability to create and save dynamic bundles using configurators in the cart allows them to share it with peers and managers for collaboration and approvals.
  • Support Virtual Groups or Cohorts
    Education is one great example where this feature can be effectively used. In these cases, teachers first create a list of their students and then assign their class materials enabling their students to buy as kits. The students can log in independently and buy configured kits at their convenience.

 

  • Punch Out
    Punchout enables companies to control product assortments as well as streamline purchase order approvals and processing. This also provides the ability for the buyer to view the product catalogs and buy from the buyer’s website or e-procurement system. From the procurement system, the buyer can single sign on to the eCommerce site, search and add items to the cart and return the cart as a pending purchase order back to the procurement system.
  • Flexible Shipping and Returns
    Inventory visibility is critical to provide an excellent shopping experience. The ability to view inventory from multiple warehouses provides the buyer with the information needed to determine the most convenient method of delivery or returns which lowers the overhead of stocking the products early or getting the products late.
  • Tap into Internet of Things (IoT)
    Be ready to support IoT machines connected to business’s systems when they are ready to order. E.g., a printer or a copier ordering supplies when they reach a low threshold. The IoT enabled printer can order supplies and track its delivery and contact the installer when the supplies are available.
28 Jan 2019

PCI Matters: Gain The Customers Trust with PCI Compliance

Payment Card Industry has been grown worldwide to the extent that it touches hundreds of millions of people worldwide every day. Most of the payments are happing through Debit/Credit cards, and consumers also started to use devices like iOS and Android pay for making payment electronically. Whenever a customer uses credit/debit card for the making payment, there is personal data been transmitted electronically that includes customer name, card number, security code and expiration date, and this information gets stolen and miss-utilized.

History behind PCI

Between 1988 to 1998, Visa and Mastercard reported a credit card fraud loss totaling 750 million dollars, a minuscule amount compared with hundreds of billions of dollars in the transaction processed yearly. In October 1999, VISA became the first Card brand to develop security standards for merchants conducting online sales. However, with the growth of usage of credit cards and internet, the frauds also increased to four times greater than the average transaction.

Formation of PCI     

The PCI Security Standards Council was formed to promote the Payment Card Industry standards for the safety of cardholder data across the globe. The Council was founded in 2006 by American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard and Visa Inc. They share equally in governance and execution of the Council’s work. The PCI Security Council periodically add new clauses to the requirement and releases the updated version of PCI. The first officially PCI was released in 2004 with PCI 1.0 version and currently it is PCI 3.2 which released in 2016.

The twentieth century U.S. criminal Willie Sutton was said to rob banks because “that’s where the money is.” The same motivation in our digital age which makes merchants the new target for financial fraud. It’s a severe problem, more than 510 million records with sensitive information have been breached since January 2005, according to PrivacyRights.org. So, the merchants, who are at the center of payment card transactions, it is imperative that they should use standard security procedures and technologies to thwart the theft of cardholder data.

PCI customer information the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and this council have set 12 requirements as a security measure.  In this article, we are going to discuss the critical elements under PCI now required to adhere by the organizations which accept payment cards for thier business. These organizations have to protect the card holder’s information including their names, card numbers and security code which is saved in the system when the consumes makes payment. The PCI has formed to stop the data breaches which was increasing between 2000 – 2005 and this can only be prevented with a strong regulation to set the necessary security measures and standard needs to be set for Payment Card Industry. Moreover, it allows programming engineers and gadget producers with the required direction which will adhere to compliance.

Risky Behavior

A survey of businesses in the U.S. and Europe reveals activities that may put cardholder data at risk. 81% store payment card numbers

73% store payment card expiration dates

71% store payment card verification codes

57% store customer data from the payment card magnetic stripe

16% store other personal data

Source: Forrester Consulting: The State of PCI Compliance (commissioned by RSA/EMC)

Payment Application Data Security Standard:
Some of the key points for implementing security steps.

  1. Need to use the authorized and approved pin entries devices.
  2. Use appropriate software to make the Payment.
  3. Need to create Most important security that is fire wall protection between the pc and network.
  4. Make sure wireless router password encryption. Training is required to the employees to protect the data of card holder’s data.

Security Controls and Processes for PCI DSS Requirements

1.Build and Maintain a Secure Network

Right off the bat, the Cardholder information is just as secure as the ways that give access to it. From one viewpoint, PCI DSS necessities are intended to guarantee that system security rehearses dispose or limit known dangers. Then again, they ensure that the association characterizes well‐ organized strategies, techniques and practices that can be followed and inspected. To guarantee both secure information pathways and adherence to strict Network security arrangements, PCI DSS requires specific rules for handling card installments to help anticipate Mastercard extortion, skimming, and other security dangers.

Following and evaluating of firewall activities consistently, including clear meanings of parts and duties.

  1. Entirely restricting interior hierarchical access to customer information.
  2. Recording, authorizing and inspecting every single operational technique and practices.
  3. Around 40% of PCI DSS are identified with Network security, yet this is extremely the essence of pain, entanglements and unsettling influence for PCI internal auditors, IT administrators and their groups.

For arrange security groups to coordinate a repeatable, consistent method that doesn’t disturb business as usual, it’s essentially not plausible for IT administrators and PCI inward evaluators to physically oversee and test. The numerous IT errands associated with recording, following and reviewing system security techniques manually can take weeks.

2. Protect Card Holder Data

Cardholder data alludes to any information contained on a client’s installment card. The data is imprinted on either side of the card and is contained in the digital format on the attractive stripe implanted in the rear of the card. Some installment cards store data in chips inserted on the front side. The front side, for the most part, has the essential record number (PAN), cardholder name and termination date and the 3-4-digit card check number (CVV2). The CVV2 might be on the back, contingent upon the card. The attractive stripe or chip holds these in addition to other touchy data for verification and approval.

PCI security gauges are specialized, and operational requirements set by the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to ensure cardholder data. The norms apply to all associations that store, process or transmit cardholder data – with direction for programming engineers and producers of utilization and gadgets utilized as a part of those exchanges. The Council is in charge of dealing with the security guidelines, while compliance with the PCI set of gauges is enforced by the establishing individuals from the Council, American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Inc.

3. Implement strong access control measures

Access control allows merchants to permit or deny the use of physical or technical means to access. PAN and other cardholder data. Access must be granted on a business need to know basis. Physical access control entails the use of locks or restricted access to paper-based cardholder records or system hardware. Logical access control permits or denies use of PIN entry devices, a wireless network, PCs, and other devices. It also controls access to digital files containing cardholder data.

4. Compensating Controls for PCI DSS Requirements

Compensating controls might be considered for most PCI DSS requirements when an element can’t meet a prerequisite unequivocally as expressed. All together for a compensating control to be viewed as substantial, it must be investigated by a qualified assessor.

Compensating controls must fulfill the accompanying criteria:

  1. Meet the purpose and meticulousness of the first PCI DSS necessity.
  2. Give a comparable level of protection as the primary PCI DSS necessity, with the end goal that the compensating controls adequately counterbalances the hazard that the first PCI DSS prerequisite was intended to safeguard against.
  3. Be “well beyond” other PCI DSS requirements. (Just complying with other PCI DSS requirements isn’t a compensating control.)

5. Choosing an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) for PCI

An Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) is a data security firm utilizing a scanning answer for deciding if the client is agreeable with the PCI DSS outer helplessness scanning necessity. ASVs have been prepared and are qualified by the PCI Security Standards Council to perform external system and framework checks as required by the PCI DSS. An ASV may utilize its programming or an approved business or open source answer for approving consistency. ASV arrangements must be non-troublesome to clients’ frameworks and data – they should never cause a framework reboot or meddle with or change area name server (DNS) steering, exchanging, or address determination. Root-units or another programming ought not to be introduced unless a piece of the arrangement and pre-approved by the client. Tests not allowed by the ASV arrangement incorporate foreswearing of administration, cushion flood, beast constrain assault bringing about a secret key lockout, or exorbitant utilization of accessible correspondence data transfer capacity. An ASV scanning arrangement incorporates the scanning tool(s), the related scanning report, and the procedure for trading information between the scanning vendor and the client. ASVs may submit consistence reports to the procuring foundation for the benefit of a trader or specialist co-op.

6. The scope of Assessment for PCI DSS Compliance

PCI Compliance scope includes Cardholder Data Environment (CDE) and other system applications & components associated with CDE. A Cardholder Data Environment (CDE) consists of different processes, technologies, and hardware & software applications that stores, process and transmits customer’s data like card number, CVV number, and magnetic strip data.

Below are the system components which are included in the scope:

  1. Networking devices
  2. Firewalls
  3. Servers
  4. Switches
  5. Routers
  6. Computing devices
  7. Applications

The initial step of a PCI DSS compliance effort is to precisely decide the scope of the earth. The perusing procedure incorporates recognizing all framework parts that are situated inside or associated with the cardholder data condition. The cardholder data condition is included individuals, procedures, and innovation that handle cardholder data or delicate confirmation data. Framework segments incorporate system gadgets (both wired and remote), servers and applications. Virtualization segments, for example, virtual machines, virtual switches/switches, virtual apparatuses, virtual applications/work areas, and hypervisors, are additionally considered framework segments inside PCI DSS. Perusing must happen at any rate every year and preceding the yearly assessment. Shippers and different substances must recognize all areas and streams of cardholder data to guarantee all pertinent framework segments are incorporated into scope for PCI DSS. Elements ought to affirm the exactness and suitability of PCI DSS scope by performing these means:

  1. The evaluated element recognizes and archives the presence of all cardholder data in their condition, to confirm that no cardholder data exists outside of the right now characterized cardholder data condition (CDE).
  2. Once all areas of cardholder data are recognized and reported, the substance utilizes the outcomes to confirm that PCI DSS scope is fitting (for instance, the outcomes might be a graph or a stock of cardholder data areas).
  3. The element considers any cardholder data observed to be in the scope of the PCI DSS assessment and part of the CDE unless such data is erased or moved/merged into the at present characterized CDE.
  4. The element holds documentation that shows how PCI DSS scope was affirmed and the outcomes, for assessor survey as well as for reference amid the following yearly PCI SCC scope affirmation action.


7. Reporting

Reporting are very important part of any organization as they serve as a record and proof when needed. Reports are the mechanism which is prepared by the concern person for specific purpose or general and time also varies depending upon the company. Every Business has different merchant bank and level tied which determines what kind of reporting and validation is require and even the volume of transactions does matter. Reports can be weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually all depends upon what reports, purpose of report and decision to be made on that report. In the same way PCIDSS Compliance do have an reporting requirements which should consist of following things:

  • Executive Summary which should include the cardholder business description of payment card and network diagram which shows relationship and gives more clear idea.
  • More detail description of assessment, scope of work and approach been used and how much it has effect on security of data of cardholder
  • All the details about hardware and software, service providers, third party applications
  • Basic details about date of report and contact information

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.solarwindsmsp.com/content/pci-dss-requirements-checklist
  2. https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/pci_security
  3. https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/documents/PCI_PTS_POI_SRs_v4_Final.pdf
  4. https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/pci_security/maintaining_payment_security
  5. PCI Security Standards Council, (2016): Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard. Requirements and Security Assessment Procedures.
21 Jan 2019
Check-In Ahead of the Competition – Travel & Hospitality Industries Digital Trends

Check-In Ahead of the Competition – Travel & Hospitality Industries Digital Trends

Travel Industry Trends

Global online travel sales totaled an impressive $564 billion in 2016, and the market research company eMarketer has projected revenues to skyrocket to $755 billion by 2019, growing to an incredible $817 billion by 2020.

Digital travel sales worldwide from 2014 to 2020 (In billion U.S. dollars)

There are multitudes of travel options for consumers to choose from and the competition to provide excellent shopping experiences by the travel industry is fierce.  It was not so long ago that families and business travelers worked through travel agents or contacted airlines, hotels or car rental companies directly in order to reserve and book their travel but the travel industry has evolved significantly over the last decade.Now with the click of a button, consumers are able to book their own travel using modern websites and mobile apps offered by the leading travel and hospitality companies having digitally transformed their businesses.  Technological advancements have empowered travelers to research, plan and book travel arrangements independently, design their own itineraries, create bespoke packages, compare prices and take other travelers reviews into account when planning their vacations.

Today, the majority of travel transactions are completed through desktop websites, closely followed by apps and then by mobile websites.   However, the growth and popularity of travel apps are rising the most and already proving to be one of the more popular categories in the Apple App Store representing almost 4% of all app categories and reaching approximately 95% of the Android users in the United States.  Online Sales from these mobile channels are set to grow from $52 billion in 2015 to $95 billion by 2019 (source: Statista).

Omnichannel Optimization

Current research suggests that travelers prefer researching travel destinations via their smartphones but are still making their purchases on desktops because it is more user-friendly and secure.  Phocuswright for Bing’s ‘The Travel Marketer’s Guide’ reports that 40% of users conduct research using a mobile phone to find flights, hotels, and accommodations, compared to only 21% of shoppers that complete their transactions on mobile.  Given this trend, those in the travel and hospitality sector must work to make the transition between their channels seamless, with effective mobile optimization, websites, and apps, that keep their customers engaged and prevent them from leaving to shop at a competitor.

Omnichannel Optimization

Social Media Influence

There has been an enormous increase in the number of people sharing their travel experiences on social media platforms. It is no secret that millennials enjoy sharing images and comments on their travels and that it has become a large part of their identity creation, with many becoming influencers among friends, colleagues and their community, through sharing their experiences.

The dramatic growth of social media posts and reviews on holiday and travel activities have made the importance of a positive public image for travel hospitality destinations vital. Expedia’s ‘Millennial Traveler Report’ states that many customers base their choice of holiday destinations on their friends’ influence.

Social Media Influence

Having happy customers who post online is incredibly valuable to any business in travel and hospitality, making it one of the most important touch points in the customer journey. Satisfied customers become brand advocates through their posts, feedback and reviews on social media, magnifying every brand’s message and reputation significantly, as well as growing the customer base and awareness. Additionally, a positive presence on social media enables travel and hospitality companies to influence potential customers and get them interested in the complementary products and services they offer.

Analytics and Personalization

Vacationers look for unique experiences when booking their travels, and hospitality companies must personalize their shopping experiences accordingly.  An adrenaline filled adventure, a holiday with friends or a romantic getaway should all have unique content that is personalized and relevant to the traveler in order to provide the ultimate shopping experience.

Analytics and Personalization

State of the art analytics and personalization tools enable travel and hospitality companies to provide personalized shopping experiences by serving up relevant content throughout the shopper’s journey.    Theses tools measure and take into account customer searches, preferences, realtime site behavior, purchase history, and social habits when personalizing the content shown.  When done effectively, sales and conversions improve dramatically.

NextGen Technologies

Artificial Intelligence (AI): With the help of AI, travel, and hospitality companies are now able to analyze their customer’s unstructured data including pictures, social post, reviews, natural language, searches, and history. Now more than ever before, targeted, personalized content that is based on a deep understanding of what they are most interested in can be curated to capture the attention of their shoppers.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Internet of Things: IoT is driving the connected world of the future, and the travel and hospitality industries are going to reap the benefits of these new technologies. For example, in the future, hotel beds will be able to measure body temperature, mood, and hydration levels, linking with smart home technology climate controls to provide the ultimate in-room experiences.

14 Jan 2019

Future Ecommerce

eCommerce is primarily concerning execution, except for anyone concerned within the eCommerce game, it’s associate setting that’s perpetually ever-changing, and upgrading as technologies improve and firms battle against one another to win a more significant share of the pie. There are still things that continue to be constant during this domain: delivery times can improve, client service can get progressively higher, and products choice can become even bigger.

Different innovations are tributary towards the long keep running of the web-based business. Both the equipment and programming that can empower an enhanced purchaser encounter are beginning to develop and fit together. Upgrades in the cloud, the Internet of Things, and with Artificial Intelligence, are enabling retailers to consider new administrations at a lower value point than at any other time

Lets put our attention on the part of Artificial Intelligence and its commitment towards what’s to come

The human-made reasoning is assuming an extremely fundamental part with up and coming future E-business.

With the present status of the online commercial center, web-based business has turned out to be more soaked and focused implying that for a business to succeed, it should be quicker and more brilliant. Take building sites, for instance. Though previously, you would need to contract a website specialist and pay a huge number of dollars to have an expert site, now you just need an AI web designer to create your site for you inside minutes. Client and guest information is surrounding us, continually gathered, and constantly vital for organizations to examine. Yet, imagine a scenario where we could gather, arrange, break down, and after that set that information to work for us in a considerably more productive way. All things considered, that is precisely where AI comes in, and it’s switching up the internet promoting amusement highly.

AI impacts the way we shop on the web. The things we see under the “suggested for you” or “clients who saw this thing additionally saw” areas of retailer site pages, are driven by the investigation performed by machines, of information assembled about your online exercises.

AI is likewise behind other advantageous highlights we find on most online business sites today. Imagine that is a human on the opposite side of that Support visit box? Reconsider. Numerous online retailers utilize shrewd visit bots that offer prompt, day and night support to their clients, to fluctuating degrees of modernity. The AI innovation behind these visit bots is always progressing, empowering AI to comprehend and partake in discussion with a human.

A chatbot (otherwise called a chatterbot, talkbot, IM bot, Bot, intuitive operator, or Artificial Conversational Entity) is a PC program or man-made reasoning which directs a discussion through sound-related or literary methods. Such projects are regularly intended to convincingly recreate how a human would carry on as a conversational accomplice, accordingly finishing the Turing test. Chatbots are regularly utilized as a part of discourse frameworks for different pragmatic purposes including client administration or data obtaining. Some chatterbots utilize modern normal dialect preparing frameworks, however numerous less difficult frameworks filter for watchwords inside the info, at that point pull an answer with the most coordinating catchphrases, or the most comparable wording design, from a database.

Notwithstanding utilizing man-made consciousness to customize client encounters successfully, retailers can hold onto AI as a strategy for wiping out expensive, tedious substance testing. Testing because of showcasing and deals experts include various touch focuses (informing, content situating, invitation to take action, and so forth.) that make it hard to actualize the correct cluster of changes expected to accomplish an ideal correspondence—particularly in case you’re focusing on an assortment of shopper composes. AI will have the capacity to immediately reveal insight into the site page designs and informing that work best for various groups of onlookers without the requirement for testing and breaking down.

Developmental calculations (Evolutionary algorithms) (EAs) are a subset of AI that retailers can likewise grasp to help enhance the client encounter and develop deals. EAs make a gathering of possible arrangements (for instance, answers for content introduction) that are tried. New gatherings of potential arrangements are then consequently created and tried in view of the best arrangements from past gatherings. As such, EA can test varieties of informing, pictures and designs, continually making better choices to locate the best arrangement.

Online purchasers will soon be able to have their AI individual shopping colleague. As of now, this is a zone that misses the mark contrasted with the vast internet shopping network and the sales representatives of physical shops. What used to be a physical sales representative outfitted towards retail customers are currently AI individual virtual shopping collaborators. AI virtual shopping associates can proactively help customers as opposed to being empty inquiry questions that go about as aloof data retrievers.

For instance, right now, customers get a notice when an airfare value drops. These warnings usually are flighty and regularly evolving. AI virtual associates will before long have the capacity to take this procedure to the subsequent stage by accepting cautions of value drops, at that point verifying whether they fit into your booked dates. On the off chance that it’s a fit, at that point the AI virtual partner will have the capacity to buy the ticket for your benefit.

This procedure will dispense with the requirement for human association amid an online business exchange, making it completely discretionary to converse with a specialist amid the procedure.

The individual virtual colleague shopping model can likewise be custom fitted to different other web-based obtaining conditions, making it a possible vision for web-based business not long from now.

Last Thoughts

The rise of AI is ceaselessly changing the methods for internet business. It is making a superior purchasing background for buyers as well as retailers, also. Shopping is presently turning into a more individual affair, impersonating fairly the experience of customary physical shops. Any advertiser would now be able to make a Facebook Messenger chatbot without coding. As AI develops, the universe of online business is certain to develop alongside it.

 

06 Sep 2018

The Next BIG thing – Conversational Commerce

From:         In-store purchases – physically experiencing the touch and feel of the product

To:              Online Orders – virtually experiencing the product

And now:   Voice Orders – just directly buying the product

Transactions API allows you to create more seamless ordering experiences than other channels such as through websites and mobile apps. This is because the Google Assistant enables a natural, conversational ordering experience, and can facilitate transactions on the user’s behalf by passing payment and identity information to your assistant app. Actions on Google provides a variety of APIs and helpers for building a quality conversational experience. You can use these to guide users to assemble their “shopping cart” by conversing with your app.

The Actions on Google platform lets you build actions that allow users to get things done on a variety of experiences and devices. For example, a shoe store can provide actions to order items, check on an order delivery, learn about new products, or sign up for promotions.

Here’s an example of how this works with an imaginary retail shop app named Sekai.

  1. A user talks to the Assistant and requests an action, “I’m looking for sneakers from Sekai.” The Assistant asks Actions on Google to find the best app to handle the action and receives a response back from Sekai.
  2. The Assistant displays the response to the user and the conversation begins with the user. The Assistant waits for user input to occur and when this happens, the Assistant sends this request over to Sekai’s fulfillment.
  3. During the conversation, the Assistant brokers the conversation between the user and Sekai, and the two exchange information so Sekai can gather the information it needs to fulfill the intent.
  4. Finally, the conversation ends when the user’s intent to purchase some shoes is fulfilled or until the user wants to end the conversation.

The Transactions API allows you to accept purchases and reservations with your Assistant app. A transaction can be a purchase (for example, pick-up, delivery, or tickets), or a reservation/appointment (for example, restaurants, haircuts, fitness classes). A transaction with Actions on Google generally consists of:

  • Delivery address: using the actions.intent. DELIVERY_ADDRESS intent to retrieve the user’s delivery address from Google
  • Cart assembly: conducting a conversation with the user to build their order
  • Checkout: using the actions.intent. TRANSACTION_DECISION intent to propose the order to the user for them to accept or reject (required)
  • Confirmation: using the OrderUpdate response to confirm a transaction that a user has already accepted, and send them a receipt (required)
  • Sign in / account creation: connecting the user’s Google account to an account on your own web application via OAuth 2.0
  • Order updates: sending further OrderUpdates to the user via the Conversation Send API throughout the life of the order (required)

While the user is building their “cart,” you may need to collect their delivery or shipping information to determine things like price and service availability. Your app can request the user’s permission for Google to share their delivery address with your app.

Once they are ready to checkout, your app can trigger an order confirmation experience by providing the structured order data to the Transactions API. The user can then authorize the purchase and accept or reject the order. Provide a built-in experience enabling users to change their payment settings, delivery address, etc.

If the user authorizes the purchase, your app should immediately respond by confirming that the order is active. You do this by providing the Transactions API with a structured receipt. This is presented to the user as a rich receipt “card” as part of their interaction with your app.  You can then continue the dialog with the user. You might take this opportunity to let them create an account on your app so that they can earn rewards or re-order their favorite items.

SAP Hybris is not too far behind in this market. Pragiti has already built POCs to integrate SAP Hybris Commerce platform with Alexa/other voice enabled platforms and enabled order placing capabilities via commands like:

Alexa, ask Hybris to add apple to my cart

Alexa, ask Hybris to show me my cart

Alexa, ask Hybris to remove all items from my cart

Alexa, ask Hybris to place the order

Get in touch with info@pragiti.com to know about conversational commerce

07 May 2018

IoT Influence in Future of Digital Commerce

Digital Commerce

As per Gartner, digital commerce is defined as “buying and selling of goods and services using the Internet, mobile networks, and commerce infrastructure.

It includes the marketing activities that support these transactions, including people, processes, and technologies to execute the offering of development content, analytics, promotion, pricing, customer acquisition and retention, and customer experience at all touch points throughout the customer buying journey.”

Digital Commerce

Since the emergence of eCommerce in the US during late 90’s, the growth of eCommerce has been tremendous, generating a huge amount of transactions in retail, hospitality and media industry, which changed the way the business is conducted all over the world.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of dedicated physical objects (things) that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment. The connecting of assets, processes, and personnel enables the capture of data and events from which a company can learn behavior and usage, react with preventive action, or augment or transform business processes. The IoT is a foundational capability for the creation of digital business.

In simple words, IOT goes beyond the traditional digital commerce devices like desktop, laptop, mobile phones and tablets to a more varied range of devices which the humans use every day with embedded technology that can communicate with the external systems using the Internet.

In order for a company to get into IOT domain, getting the fundamentals right is essential for long-term success, but the IoT is not a “one size fits all” solution. The integration of IoT technologies varies significantly among companies and industries.  Be it wired or wireless internet infrastructure, various things that are required to identify an object and communicate with the internet, which forms the basis for IOT infrastructure. These infrastructures include sensors, tags, product, networks, software application and analytics tools. As per Gartner following infrastructures are required for IOT to be a success

  • Things: Things can be dumb or smart on their own and store most of their data on board. Things can also be self-sufficient and communicate to the internet for only centralized coordination and analysis.
  • Gateways: Gateways may house the application logic, store data and communicate with the internet for the things that are connected to it. Things don’t have to be as smart because the gateway can provide these resources.
  • Mobile devices: Smartphones (or any mobile device) may house the application logic, store data and communicate with the internet on behalf of things that are connected to it. Things don’t have to be as smart because the mobile device provides these abilities.
  • The cloud: The cloud can act as the central connection hub, power analytics and provides data storage. Things don’t have to be as smart because the cloud will provide these resources.
  • The enterprise: This architectural role is focused on keeping connected machines, application logic, and analytics and data


Digital Commerce with IOT

Digital commerce growth is on the increase every year and shows no sign of a slowdown. Still, with this growth, there is a great opportunity available in the developed markets to take this to the next level using IoT. The digital commerce players or retailer or manufactures should stay on top of the IoT trend in order to stay ahead of the competition and not to miss the big IoT bus.

As per Gartner insights, IoT base is expected to grow by 26 billion units in 20203. There are a lot of R&D and implementation happening around us, with Amazon being one of the most visible case studies by implementing Amazon Dash, where each Dash button assigned to a product number and pre-defined quantity. Pressing the button will send the order to Amazon with the predefined address and payment method.

Another example of IoT in digital commerce can be of printer cartridges replenishment based on the cartridge levels. The printer can come with sensors which monitor the cartridges, and when cartridge life/level reaches a certain threshold level, the order is automatically placed using the account associated with the Printer and cartridges delivered to the address associated with the device and account. Similarly, IoT can be used for service, with the same example of Printer, if there are error codes, the sensor can send automatic troubleshooting instructions to the email id associated with the Printer and account, if it cannot be troubleshot by the consumer, schedule a service appointment by initiating schedule process with the customer.

With the application of IoT, Digital Commerce business can get a huge leap ahead in the way business is conducted and reap greater competitive edge. The main areas which the IoT can help the organization to go the next level are

i. Customer Experience

IoT can provide consumers with more holistic shopping experience with personalized and context driven interactions that can lead to high level of customer engagement. Based on the previous shopping behaviors, purchase history, the company can remove certain regular or low-value interactions and make it automatic and concentrate on providing more value to the consumer. Again, with the example of the printer, for the specific customer, take off the service and cartridge replenishment part from the main customer experience in the website and instead channel the customer towards more productive office automation or products of interest which will provide higher value.

ii. Customer Value

IoT technology leverages real-time information that helps companies to deliver unique value to the customers. In the current market scenario which is highly competitive, the customer data becomes a valuable asset to the company.  The companies can make use of this date to focus on various customer engagement strategies which may include warranties, periodic maintenance, expiry reminders, etc., as post-sale services. E.g., Based on the purchase date and product data, CVS can send a notification to the customer around 15 days before the expiry date of the product and provide an option to reorder the same product again.

iii. Inventory and Logistics

With IoT technology, companies can monitor the flow of goods/product/SKU from one location to another with the help of sensors and internet. This helps in tracking of product from production to consumption. IoT can help in tracking the items in transit, giving complete information about location, temperature, and more. With IoT-enabled technology, companies can easily manage the route and speed of their shipped products too, which can help in reducing lost or misplaced shipments. Sensors can be used in delivery trucks as well for real-time monitoring of the deliveries and decreasing losses.

About Pragiti
Pragiti is Gold Partner with SAP Hybris and providing broad range Digital Commerce and Omni Channel solutions and system integration services across varied industry and business segment. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills 4 locations, Pragiti works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders.
Ready to learn more on how the Pragiti team can help you use Hybris and IoT to engage your customers more effectively across channels and move to next level in Digital Commerce. Contact us today at sales@pragiti.com or visit us online at pragiti.com

12 Jun 2017
IoT Generated Data

IoT Generated Data

Shoes telling us that we’re getting slower running our usual route, refrigerators ordering milk automatically and thermostats resetting themselves are applications that are poised to revolutionize the lives of consumers and provide an incredible opportunity for retailers and service providers to serve and build long lasting relationships with them. The key currency of this relationship is data and therein lies one of IoT’s biggest challenge today.

For starters, there is this security concern. A typical house of the future will have 100 to 150 IoT enabled devices connected to their home network up from 5-10 a couple of years ago. Internet enabled devices in a house which were limited to mobile phones, TVs, laptops and an occasional thermostat will in the future be supplemented by 1 or 2 refrigerators, multiple wearable devices (fitness tracker to glasses to watches), shoes, undergarments (think Under Armour’s IoT play), consoles (the play station & Wiis of the world), light bulbs, home security systems, HVAC, sprinkler system, cooking appliances, home theater system, etc. Suddenly, 100 to 150 access points now need to be secured and so does the data being generated and sent across. Apart from the mundane “how many miles did you run today” and that “your light bulb needs a change”, sensitive medical, financial and other private data is also flowing back and forth which of course needs to be secure. And, the complexities only increase at business establishments where the number of IoT enabled devices can run into thousands.

Security at the providers’ end is also a challenge. With all the data coming in, providers also need to reevaluate their security infrastructure, policies and systems. The CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) is today already a harassed individual. The enterprise of the future will have significantly much more data coming from an ever-increasing number of connected devices and the points of breach will continue to challenge the CISOs.

Second, the challenge around network bandwidth and performance. Whether this is home Wi-Fi or the service providers network, the sheer volume of data being generated and consumed is going to explode – exponentially. For example, it is generally understood that Tesla collected 1.3 Billion miles’ worth of data in from autopilot equipped vehicles, in just 2 years. That’s a lot of data! Availability and access to data usually ends up creating demand for more data and that will eventually put a tremendous load on the infrastructure. At all levels – global, service provider, enterprise & home, are we prepared to address bandwidth and performance issues. Whether we like it or not, this will need to be addressed.

Lastly but not the least, is what to do with the data – or the action being taken on the data. Wearable devices (with authentication and permissions) may be generating data for the retailer as to how consumers are shopping in their physical store. But, are they prepared to analyze this data and get some actionable information out of the same? I think not. Or, refrigerators sending orders for replenishing milk might be coming through in thousands, but is the manufacturer prepared to understand what this data means for them? I believe we will eventually get there but right now, we are just not prepared to make sense of the volume of data that’s expected to be generated other than the usual demographic and transactional analysis. It is however, around deeper analysis that we will see the real value. They say data is king. Certainly! And, only if the king delivers.

The solution (or solutions) for the above challenges will eventually be found. Either technology or process (or both) will handle this. Indeed, every day there’s a new announcement regarding technology or a new approach to systems and/or processes (or transformations that an enterprise needs to make). So, it is a matter of time before these get addressed adequately. Till then, whether you are a consumer, an enterprise, a service provider or simply an enthusiast, do spend some time thinking through the data challenges while planning your IoT initiatives.