CoreMedia’s Hackathon on February 22-23 is all about “The Future of Commerce”. Since I’ve been asked about the origin of this theme, I’d like to share it here:
At this year’s NRF Big Show in New York City, I noticed a significant change compared to the year before. The overall mood within the Retail industry felt more upbeat than in 2017. Retail and brand executives seemed committed to embrace change and more determined to play an active role in shaping the future of the industry. Many conversations at the CoreMedia booth focused on innovative new customer experiences. A bunch of these hadn’t been possible in the past but will be soon due to a changing technology landscape, new behavioral patterns or the fact that a critical mass will be reached in 2018.
Here are some of the topics I had the pleasure to discussed with brand and retail executives:
- Online Flagship Stores
- Omni-Channel / No-line
- Print + Mobile
- Digital signage
- Augmented Reality
- QR Codes
- Voice Control
- Content Syndication
It became clear that many of these topics have the same underlying theme: the seamless integration of iconic brand experience with immediate conversion. Online Flagship Stores are a perfect example for that. They offer all transactional functionality of an online store but with the iconic brand experience of a brand site.
I am convinced that we will see a similar conversion of inspiration and conversion in most if not all other touch-points as well. Printed fashion magazines and outdoor advertising will feature Augmented Reality experiences like the ones Layar.com enables. These AR models have to be managed as well as all the other profit related content. The ability to blend AR models with photos, videos and descriptions in multiple languages will be key to deliver iconic experiences in an efficient way.
QR codes will provide deep links into apps providing unique experiences or directly to product detail pages. Outdoor advertising, in-store visuals and digital signage will feature QR codes to enable the same seamless backchannel. Even video walls and TV ads might be added to the list.
Other touch-points that should be integrated in a consistent way are chatbots, voice assistants like Alexa, and various social media and messaging platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Apple iMessage, WeChat, Amazon and Pinterest. Many of them enable transactions right inside their platform like Facebook Instant Experiences or Instagram’s immersive shopping experience.
A global customer of CoreMedia shared their experience that consistency of visuals and campaigns through all touch-points is a key factor for their customer satisfaction. They’ve noticed a higher rate of complains in markets where mobile and online campaigns didn’t align with in-store campaigns. Consistency is key in a highly networked world. Customers don’t care about the difference between online and offline, mobile and in-store. They do live in a “noline” world.
To address this need for consistency in an efficient and fast way, we expect to see a deeper integration of campaign planning and execution across various touch-points like online, mobile, print, in-store, ads, social media, customer care etc.
For brands this need for consistency might also include their retail partners. Syndicating high quality product information in a semantically rich way directly into the commerce platforms of various retailers is increasingly a critical capability for major brands. Ideally, campaign content, videos, AR content can also be syndicated without losing their product relationship and semantic depth.
All these trends have the ability to change the way we buy and sell. The Chinese success stories of Alibaba and Tencent document the power of disruption if new patterns reach a critical mass.
Since the best way to predict the future is inventing it, we decided to explore the above ideas plus many more and do our part to shape the Future of Commerce at our next Hackathon.