How Smart Commerce is Changing the Way Organizations Operate

How Smart Commerce is Changing the Way Organizations Operate
The rise of tech-powered start-ups and online market players, as well as investment commitments by leading brands, indicate that businesses have realised the value of building internal capabilities involving smart commerce to become "Smart organization"

By Indian retailer bureau , Sub Editor

14 Apr 2022 | 13 min read

The last year has shown that consumer behavior has changed irreversibly. To give an example, they are spending most of their time on the internet and are exploring new brands. A Deloitte report showed that online players have seen a significant rise in the number of new users as high as 50 percent for some players which is mainly driven by Tier II and III cities. 

Also, experts believe that legacy brands have largely missed taking advantage of the e-commerce opportunity by focusing excessively on the D2C opportunity. Going forward, in order to make the most of the rising demand for the online channels of commerce, brands especially new-age enterprises need to think beyond the traditional marketing models and offer an optimal mix of ‘phygital’ experience and ‘convenience’. And, for the same, the brands are relying upon smart commerce. 

What is Smart Commerce? 

Smart commerce is actually an umbrella term comprising of tools that generally involve technology-heavy tools like data analytics, AI/ML integration, and so on that help in improving the efficiency of the company. Also, many argue it is not just about the tools but how businesses understand and build processes in their organizations.   

In fact, retailers across the world are investing in a more agile, nimble, and asset-light business model to keep pace with changing consumer behavior, government regulations, and investor sentiments. This model, which incorporates heavy smart commerce tools, can potentially create newer reasons for scale, sustenance, and deeper penetration. 

Priyanka Salot, Co-Founder of one of the leading mattress companies The Sleep Company said, "Smart Commerce is the cornerstone of e-commerce's future. It consists of two main components: a streamlined purchase procedure and a better communication system between the customer and the brand. As a brand, we use all available means to position ourselves as an intelligent commerce platform with compelling product narratives in order to reach out to customers more effectively. For example, we leverage Freshdesk as a CRM for 360-degree customer interactions, Web Engage for automation, and SAP for all ERP, inventory, and stock management."

Pradeep Krishnakumar, Co-founder and COO, Zouk stated, "At Zouk, we use elements of Smart Commerce across all parts of our funnel. We personalize our messaging at the awareness stage via ad platforms like Facebook. We leverage a lot of data to plan our supply chain. We also leverage social media conversations with our followers to plan future product launches. We also use customization during the website purchase journey. Unlike legacy brands, we leverage the power of the cloud to provide us scale, given we are rapidly growing month on month."

Similarly, FabBox is using an AI-based WhatsApp app customer service tool.

Elaborating on the same, Devang Shah, Founder, FabBox said, "With this, we can directly chat with customers over WhatsApp and share an update with them like order tracking, delivery, etc. If you order something, it automatically starts talking to you giving order updates, sharing feedback, basically providing an entire end-to-end customer journey instead of an email or message, making it entirely convenient for the customers. Since people are more used to Whatsapp it gives us the advantage to connect with them any time of the hour with an immediate smart response. We have witnessed 30 percent of more repeat orders because of our AI-based Whatsapp tool."

Again, Mohit Goyal, Co-Founder of cosmetics brand Swiss Beauty stated, "Ever since pandemic has happened blended commerce has become a necessity. We use chatbots, Whatsapp and cloud messaging & order fulfillment experience to enhance our CRM process. We believe these seamless options contribute to customer satisfaction and add more potential and new customers to join the hands. In addition to this, AR & VR is currently the talk of the town. These emerging advanced technologies have helped the way e-commerce has evolved in the past two years when people were sitting at home and couldn't manually visit the stores to understand the product. Our future plan is to bet big on such technologies on our platform to strengthen our customer relationship."

This apparent commitment by leading brands indicates that businesses have realized the value of building internal capabilities involving smart commerce to become an agile and so-called 'smart organization'. 

Anand Ramanathan, Partner, Deloitte India, resonating the same said: “In our ever-evolving, tech-led world, where most brands are at a nascent stage of adopting digital capabilities, smart commerce enables the company to become more agile and scale more efficiently while minimizing risks. It provides the company with the data for decision-making and enhances the sustainability of outcomes and resource acquisition.”

Leveraging Smart Tools

A major challenge faced by the companies is that they have a large availability of consumer data from their value chain but they are not able to make the best of the data available. This is where smart commerce enablers come in who provide the right tools and services for a brand to leverage its processes.  

Milind Pathak, Chief Business Officer of Cloud Communications platform Route Mobile said, “Shopping experiences supported by commerce tools range from brand-based websites and mobile commerce services to social commerce solutions and online marketplaces offering millions of products. Once retailers integrate with the smart commerce tools they will be easily able to track customer data, create a fulfillment process and give a multi-channel customer experience. Integration of online and offline stores offers a multitude of opportunities such as an improved checkout process, direct engagement with online shoppers, chatbots for customer support, and AI that can help reduce marketing spends.”

"There has been a big shift in consumer buying behavior and social commerce is changing the way people discover and buy online. India has one of the largest numbers of online shoppers, and social platforms have become a popular destination for shopping. Young shoppers today depend more on social referrals and comments, influencers and celebrity promotions, and their friend's recommendations while making their purchase decisions.  If brands are looking to make this channel a success, then they need to be able to leverage data and insights from their social channels to understand their customers better. With its AI-powered intelligence engine, the Shoptimize Growth platform has helped brands make their social commerce initiatives more effective, even as they try to adapt, evolve, and stay relevant," Mangesh Panditrao, CEO and Co-Founder of Shoptimize added.

Gurjant Singh, Vice President - Technology, Paxcom said, "E-commerce platforms in India are evolving towards self-serve portals as demand for advertising on them has increased drastically. There has been a significant shift from in-store consumers to online shoppers, which means each brand needs to be visible and enhance its digital touchpoints on the platforms to acquire new customers. Hence, the need for digital shelf tracking and campaign management has increased, and due to competition, there is a need for e-commerce experts to strategically plan their investments, execute effectively and analyze the outcomes."

Smart Commerce Tools

Here is more of an exhaustive list of tools/strategies that smart commerce enablers provide to the companies:

•    Advocating Personalized Marketing Communication: To stay relevant in this new phygital (physical and digital) commerce environment, brands need to share the right communication at the right time with the right stakeholder.

•    Focusing on Digital Sales and Service Effectiveness: Using digital technologies (AI, ML, beacon, and automation tools), organizations need to re-align their strategies to focus on customer-centricity and offer an enhanced experience.

•    Using Smart Pricing: It is calculated using complex AI/ML algorithms that analyze variables such as demand, competition pricing, and customers’ willingness to pay, to arrive at the optimal price.

•    Ensuring Effective Management of Product/ Service Portfolio: Organizations need to identify the potential opportunities and risks, develop the right assortment mix, manage merchandise and resource allocation, and prioritize high-value products/ services to come up with a winning portfolio. Such a portfolio improves the topline and captures the customer's mindshare.

•    Promoting Digital Mindset: It enables an enterprise to unlock new opportunities activated by digital technologies in a collaborative manner.

“Route Mobile provides various services to retailers as well as to e-commerce companies to increase their engagement with customers. These services include the WhatsApp Business Platform, RCS Business Messages, Viber Business Messaging, Google Business Messages, Facebook Messenger for Business, and even Messenger API for Instagram. With more customers turning to chats for business communications, instant messaging apps make it quicker for businesses to connect and chat with customers easily,” Milind Pathak concluded.

READ MORE: Using Technology to Make Your Customer Happy is Non-Negotiable Today: Personalization is Key

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