Speaking at Online Retailer conference in Sydney this week, Janie Yu (pictured below), partner at American venture capitalist firm Fung Capital, talked about the important role that technology plays in the retail industry.
“Retail is incredibly complex. There are decisions we have to make many years out, decisions we have to make on a quarterly basis and decisions we make every day,” she told attendees.
“We’re so heads down focused on the execution detail, sometimes we forget what really matters to the consumer. It’s great product and great experience. And nothing else. That’s what a consumer is after.
“I’m always asked who do consumers love other than Amazon? But even Amazon is still crawling in the journey to intelligent retail. If I buy a paint brush on Amazon, in my Recommended section, I see more paint brushes.
“If I buy a paint brush on Alibaba, in my Recommended section, I see a video advertising painting classes. They’re one step ahead.
“These days, the customer journey is like a bowl of spaghetti. It’s incredibly complex.”
Yu then shared a few examples of businesses that are transforming retail businesses:
Tulip Retail (delivers a mobile platform for retail sales associates):
“When I (now rarely) go into a store, I don’t need to go up to a sales associate, as I’ve got more information on the phone in my hand,” she explained.
“If I do ask a question, the salesperson often has to spend time in front of a computer before they can answer my question.
“With Tulip, the sales associates all have tablets with all the information at their fingertips. Sales associates are no longer a cost centre but revenue generating machines.”
Olapic (enables brands to visually communicate using real customer images and videos in every touchpoint):
Olapic’s content engine helps brands collect and deploy use-generated content and curate real customer photos and videos across channels as well as measure impact.
“Consumers can see products worn not just by the model on the website, but by real people. This generates more interesting and authentic content to work with,” Yu explained.
Afterpay (an Australian financial technology company):
“Born in Australia. Shop now, pay later. It’s a simple idea to driver bigger basket size. This is exciting!” she said.
NARVAR (a post-purchase management platform):
“Once you hit ‘buy’ on an e-commerce website, NARVAR helps manage delivery and returns,” Yu said.
“But it delivers a far better experience for customers, which in turn drives loyalty. Before NARVAR, it was all DHL and FedEx.”
Yu’s final words: “Intelligent retail is a journey to understand, anticipate and deliver the customers needs and wants. But only when you get customer experience right, and the product right, do you have a thriving business.”