Turning Consumer Generated Content into Valuable Brand Asset
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Turning Consumer Generated Content into Valuable Brand Asset

By Luis Sanz, Founder, Olapic

Luis Sanz, Founder, Olapic

Challenges in Integration of Data for Retailers

There is no question that data is a critical part of retail success. Each part of the customer journey needs to be tracked and measured. Consumer touch points have greatly increased and it is not as easy as it may seem to create an integrated view of everything from a purchase, to a Facebook post, a Tweet or mobile browsing on a branded app - retailers need a specialized solution to help bring these critical areas together to gain a 360-degree view of the customer.

"Organizational silos are breaking down and technology is cutting across the retail enterprise"

Staying on top of consumer behaviors that impact commerce such as the adoption of smartphones and tablet devices is imperative. Mobile technology, for example, has had a clear impact on commerce and is fast rising as a driving force behind purchases with an estimated 145.9 million mobile shoppers this year according to eMarketer. Consumers don’t think about online or offline. They are simply shopping and bringing new habits into the retail environment - from researching products on their phones while standing in a store, to checking brand apps for out of stock items or better deals.

Adapting to Technology Expectations from Customers

Never has there been a time where the consumer has had a louder more prominent voice about the like or dislike of a product or brand. According to an IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study, 90 percent of C-suite executives foresee significant collaboration with customers within the next three to five years. They also intend to rely on digital technologies to boost engagement, create one-on-one dialogue, and provide a superior experience. The study also found that outperforming organizations are 54 percent more likely to collaborate with consumers and that number is likely to grow as 60 percent of chief executive officers (CEOs) expect customer influence to go beyond product development and expect it will reach into shaping business strategy.

Organizational silos are breaking down and technology is cutting across the retail enterprise

It is no coincidence that the rise of a more visual Web with visual social platforms such as Instagram, have accelerated this trend towards consumer collaboration. The most interesting opportunity to surface in the past two years is how brands are harnessing the flood of consumer-generated images hitting these social platforms. With Instagram topping 80 million photos posted per day, the consumer desire to share experiences visually is not to be ignored. Retailers are starting to see the true value of capturing their customer’s passion to help create more authentic and powerful brand experiences. By bringing authentic consumer photos into the customer’s journey, brands are seeing an increase in sales conversions and developing a more meaningful (and more profitable) relationship with consumers.

Technology’s Revolution on Essentials for a Retailer’s Success

The e-commerce experience has not really changed since its beginning - a basic product shot on a white background with little more than various angles to try to recreate a more tactile in-store experience. The ability to collect, curate consumer images and make these photos part of the shopping experience effectively provides a new layer of context for the online shopper that previously did not exist. When these photos are matched with specific SKUs and placed directly on product detail pages, the shopping experience immediately changes and retailers see an increase in conversion rates.

Additionally, as consumers move across different platforms and get used to different content formats (social networks, email, native ads), retailers need to deliver a consistent message across all these platforms grows. Therefore, using content in just one location (the e-commerce store) is no longer an option, it must be integrated across all applications that power the buyer journey.

Top Retail Technology Trends to Watch Out for in 2016

Omni Channel Convergence - Building true omnichannel retail experiences are just a beginning. While the term is hot, we will see retailers begin to create more connected and consistent shopping experiences across ecommerce, in-store and mobile channels.

Social commerce - Social networks are developing and evolving their platform to include “Buy Buttons.” We are at the beginning of this trend that will evolve rapidly in 2016, adding more sophistication to the process and personalized recommendations based on your social graph.

Virtual Reality - this will be a fun one to watch as retailers are only just starting to explore this and is currently more of a novelty than a trend, but the potential to disrupt the shopping experience is massive.

Transition in the role of a CIO with Fluctuations in the Industry

The role of the CIO is one of the most diverse and flexible roles in an organization. The retail CIO needs to balance the knowledge and critical understanding of technology with the more dynamic and creative skills of marketing. In a fast changing retail environment that is increasingly global in nature, CIO’s must understand the complexities of technology integrations as well the nuances of how to use this technology to achieve real value and business objectives. Organizational silos are breaking down and technology is cutting across the retail enterprise. At every point in an organization, one could argue there is an opportunity for a customer touchpoint – and each one must be measured to establish the influence and impact these points have on conversions and/or what we can learn about the customer. CIOs are now leading the charge on finding the IT solutions that will capture, assimilate and process data from all points to create a more 360-view of the consumer and in doing so, help achieve business objectives.

Lesson’s Learnt
Top three lessons:

With the technology landscape changing so quickly, the need for speed is critical and finding partners that will share that vision is key for success.

Software is eating everything, you need to attract professionals that can thrive in that world. To succeed, you need your technical people to understand your business needs and you need your business people to understand how technology is affecting their work.

The number of technologies available keeps growing, so CIO’s and CEO’s need to be very selective on where they’re placing their bets. Focusing on technologies that can help you improve your key business metrics and generate ROI is the best way to stay focused and avoid over bloating your team and your customers with too many options.

The Internet of Things in the Retail Sector

The Internet of things will transform retail in many ways: Logistics will become more efficient, consumer insights more accurate and personalized and the amount of new data available at all levels of the organization will enable faster and more reliable decision making.

However, more data is only useful if your organization can effectively act on it. For retailers to be able to effectively leverage the internet of things, they will need to replace legacy systems by cloud-based architectures and adopt agile methodologies across the entire organization.

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