Temel Kahyaoglu, Chief Analyst TGOA, in conversation with Roy Machielsen, Director User Experience Services at Osudio, about the Future of Commerce
Roy Machielsen is passionate about shaping digital customer experiences that matter. He seizes opportunities that digital creates to engage users and to build strong brands across channels. Roy works with a vibrant team of designers at Osudio, who are passionately creating intuitive and engaging digital products.
Rapid changes in shopping behaviour driven by digital technology lead to many opportunities. Why do some companies succeed where others fail? A constant obsession for customers, recognising their needs and supporting their behaviour is an important aspect to identify potential routes for growth. Enabling the organisation to adapt to constant change becomes a key competence of leaders. Retaining and acquiring top talent with a digital mind-set is vital to fully leverage new developments in intelligence, digital and mesh to advance your business.
Mr. Machielsen, which challenges must companies currently face in commerce? How has this changed in recent years?
As always, the challenges that companies currently face in commerce lie in aligning inside-out processes with the external environment in order to stay relevant to the customer. Shopping behaviour on the customer side has changed dramatically and continues to change due to developments in the digital channel. This offers many possibilities to grow a business, but also requires a ‘customer obsessed’ mind-set. How does behaviour change, what drives this change and how can we meet customer’s emerging needs? It requires agile organisation, which is fit to adapt to these changing and emerging needs on the customer side. We see that many companies are facing challenges to grow their digital maturity and to be as agile as the customer requires you to be. Companies need to develop from an early ecommerce & omnichannel organisation, where the focus is on team building as well as growing sales (fast), towards a more integrated omnichannel offering throughout the organisation. This will require companies to have a look at how to blend functions between what traditionally used to be and the new digital reality. Successful companies are considerate on the sequence of steps, know how to retain top talent and to convince the whole organisation to embrace digital in their mind-set.
In addition to changes in purchasing behaviour, customers have heightened expectations. Why is that and how does this affect companies?
In order to stay relevant to customers, you have to include ‘delighters’ during the customer journey. Those delighters over time become basic needs, which requires companies to identify new opportunities to delight customers in order to build loyalty. This is nothing new, this has always been the game, but since the entry barriers in many industries have been lowered due to digital, there is now a bigger threat of new entrants, and in some cases they are better at this game than the traditional players. New entrants to the marketplace typically know how to convert very specific customer insights into a business model. The customer obsession and the ability to bring it to the market quickly is in their DNA, so to say. The result is that customers have learned that there are products and services that offer them a better experience and we will soon see the delighters introduced by those disruptors become basic needs of clients. Those who fail to adapt are out.
Which trends are emerging at the moment?
We recognise three major streams in which many vibrant topics are emerging. One is intelligence, with systems that learn and adapt and potentially act autonomously. Then we have the blur that is going to exist between digital and physical. The third trend, mesh, connects people, processes, things and services.
I would like to highlight the concept of ‘virality’, the tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one internet user to another. Facilitated by social messaging, this is likely to impact the commerce space over the coming years. Companies like Facebook, with Instagram, Facebook messenger and Whatsapp as its products, Amazon with Alexa and a newly announced messaging app, are betting on a future in which these platforms evolve in so much more than just messaging – they want those platforms to connect consumers to businesses.
What is the role of artificial intelligence and virtual reality in this regard?
Artificial intelligence, AI, is something we consider to be one of the topics in intelligence. The whole intelligence stream seems to have caught on the most with our clients at this moment. It offers great opportunities to become more relevant as a company and better at anticipating user needs.
Many of the tech companies are exploring virtual and augmented reality. Although some interesting first cases have emerged, it is not that wide spread at the moment.
Virtual reality often times requires customers to equip themselves with specific hardware, therefore it will take a while to take it beyond an emerging technology, from that perspective AR is better set for adoption, as has been proven by the success of “Pokemon Go”. At the moment, the applications of virtual and augmented reality mostly result in gimmicks rather than sustainable discriminators. The technology is however promising, it might facilitate a richer and more human contact between brands and their customers.
One can observe the merging of online and offline in retail in particular. What are Osudio’s solutions here?
First of all, we seek clarification with and for the client, all the way from digital strategy to digital concepts that allow for early customer validation, so we can reiterate to make a perfect fit with customer needs. We bring in the digital knowledge and experience that we have built over the years and we engage in a strong dialogue to get a holistic view across all channels, both online as well as offline. We help make experiences frictionless by design. Once we have jointly assessed how and where digital fits in to deliver an engaging customer experience, actual systems and platforms come into play, as well as how you enable your organisation to adopt these digital solutions. We are there to enable companies to be successful across channels and guide customers in digital, all the way from ideation to actual implementation and beyond.
For companies to stay successful in the future, what do you think they must do?
Establish a culture that embraces new opportunities, in which failure may happen as long as we learn from it, i.e. early in the process, and where opportunities are seized and brought to market quickly. Companies must stay in close contact with customers to understand emerging needs and to learn what works and what doesn’t. All this requires new mind-sets and companies will need to identify which people are best positioned to enable this process, or get people in those positions.
How do you support your clients in this?
We want to make our customers successful in an ever-changing digital world. We combine the best in business insights, design thinking and development. Whether customers are launching new products or services, want to expand their reach into new audiences, better engage customers to build loyalty, increase sales or improve their operations, we are there to guide and direct. With over 20 years of experience we have a vast amount of experience to tap from, but clients typically note that they are surprised about the level of commitment we show to understand their business and customers to come up with a digital product that works best for them both. We always deliver.
How will commerce develop in the long term, what is the future?
With an ever-increasing volume of transactions on marketplaces, brands will have to act across channels to forge connections with their customers and to build loyalty. To successfully do so, commerce will become more personal, concentrating on individual needs and supporting individual behaviour so that it will exceed the pure focus on transaction that you find nowa-
Osudio helps clients create user-friendly environments, which easily guides buyers to digital transactions or to bricks-and-mortar shops. Osudio provides a comprehensive range of services that include: digital strategy, user experience and design, optimisation and IT services to help companies succeed in the digital age.
Picture credit © Osudio