Retailers once had it easy. Little competition, loyal customers and easy sales. Then came an explosion in retail; great for consumers but not so good for retailers! The days of easy sale were in the past and retailers now had to work hard to build and retain a loyal base.
The first wave in retail was all about the data. Collecting data, analysing data, and using insights and campaign tools to personalize engagement and create a group of highly loyal customers. Next up was the shift to online. E-commerce and a connected experience both online and offline became a must have to be able to provide consumers with the experience they expected. This continues to play out and is often dubbed ‘going Omni-channel’.
While getting Omnichannel right is critical for survival, we are now seeing consumers evolving to the next wave.
The reality is that over 94% of sales still happen at brick and mortar stores.
While consumers are able to have a great personalized experience online, physical stores are woefully behind. Retailers have next to no data on what is happening in their stores. Who is the customer walking into the store? What has the customer browsed through but not purchased the last time? What does she like?
Having this data is a foundation to both provide the personalized experience consumers expect in stores as well as to maximizing operational efficiencies in a store.
The key to enabling this kind of data augmentation is through smart use of computer vision and natural language processing, artificial intelligence, we can create the tools to start getting the rich data and personalization available online, in offline stores.
I see this playing out in three stages
The first stage is to have accurate and real time data on visitors to your stores; and then integrating this with transaction data to be able to get insights on store staff effectiveness, power hours at your store, conversion rate, campaign effectiveness etc. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of accuracy! If the data is not accurate and reliable, the team will not trust the data and no action will be taken. Getting this level of accuracy and doing this cost-effectively is possible with smart use of AI and computer vision. A leading apparel brand saw over 5% incremental sales being generated by doing just this – getting accurate conversion data and working on improving this. Click below banner to read the entire story.
Next up is to understand how customers behave in store. Again AI, Computer Vision and Natural language processing based people counter and footfall counters can help you generate heat maps in store and answer questions like
- Where do the customers tend to spend the most time in a store?
- Which are the most popular sections and products in a store?
- Which sections have poor conversions and how can those be improved by altering the store layout?
- What paths do customers take in the store and how does the traffic flow through the various sections of the store?
- Analyzing customer – store staff conversations using NLP to understand which products did customers ask for but unavailable at store or to understand how many customers asked for a discount or didn’t find their fit.
Once these are in place, it opens up doors to truly exciting and revolutionary applications of AI. With computer vision, Natural Language Processing and deep learning, we can now start doing amazing stuff. Imagine these:
- Use AI to identify attributes like age, fit, clothing style and expression to get rich data on customer behavior and experiences in store. Do they like the item they browsed in store? How did they react to the store staff engagement?
- Use Natural Language Processing to identify conversation trends, of course in a non-personally identifiable way. Are customers asking for black shirts? How many folks wanted a looser fit?
- With their permission, and tagging customer IDs, you could identify your customer as soon as they walk into the store through facial recognition and have the store associate get instant information on the customer profile and their preferences, with clear suggestions on how to personalize the interaction and offerings. This would be a truly personalized and easy experience for the customer.
This is the power that retail technology is giving stores today, and it is amazing!
Capillary VisitorMetrix™, built on our AI platform Capillary Zero™, helps you unlock growth with accurate store performance insights such as conversion ratio, store power hours etc. so you can improve sales and optimize marketing. Visit link below to sign up for an exclusive pilot with Capillary VisitorMetrix™ at your stores.
At Capillary, we strongly believe that we’re known by the company we keep. So we consider ourselves highly fortunate that our ecosystem includes over 150 world-leading brands such as Adidas, Benetton, Nicole Miller, Puma and Tennis Express; major partners like Blue Label and Abrar Telecom, who are helping us drive business in our newest market—South Africa; and marquee investors including Sequoia, Norwest, and Qualcomm, who are backing our vision of becoming the #1 provider of Intelligent CRM solutions to brands across the globe. All these stakeholders know what it’s like to compete at the top of their respective industries and this pushes us that much harder to deliver solutions that bring real value to the multi-channel retailing space.
With this in mind I am thrilled to welcome the latest partner in our journey: American Express Ventures. American Express Ventures joins our existing investor syndicate and I am confident that we will be pushed to scale even greater heights as a result of this partnership.
As part of this news, I also want to acknowledge Harshul Sanghi and Rohit Bodas of AmEx Ventures. Over the past few months, Harshul and Rohit took quite a bit of time to understand our business and vision and took equal time to make sure that we understood AmEx Ventures’ values and their unique investment model. After drilling down, it became clear to all of us that Capillary Technologies fits American Express Ventures’ investment philosophy and that AmEx Ventures was a great strategic fit for Capillary—both in the U.S. and around the world.
We look forward to great things from the partnership with American Express Ventures and know that they expect great things from us in 2014 and beyond!
We’ve got more in store for you, so watch this space!
Aneesh Reddy, CEO
Last year, as some of our customers in Asia know, we conducted a pilot program with American Express to introduce our suite of intelligent CRM solutions to mid-sized and larger AmEx merchants in Singapore. The goal was to test whether American Express merchants would be interested in learning more about Capillary’s capabilities. Much to our delight, the backing of American Express—with its strong brand and focus on helping their merchants drive increased sales—was the warm introduction we needed to introduce our solutions to some top retailers in the Singaporean market. Many of these discussions turned into pilots and then grew into full-scale deployments. Most importantly, the retailers that implemented our solution suite saw strong increases in sales through both in-store and online channels and a very quick payback on implementation. It was a win-win-win for our customers, for Capillary Technologies, and for American Express.
With our sights set on the U.S. as another major growth market for Capillary—and one where American Express has a significant leading presence among all types of merchants—we began discussions with AmEx about partnering in the U.S., especially given the positive results of our joint marketing efforts in Asia.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce that we have formalized our partnership with American Express through a Joint Marketing Agreement targeting select mid-sized retailers across the U.S. You can read more about the partnership here.
The AmEx partnership is a very important one for us and a huge vote of confidence from one of the world’s most respected services companies. When we think of taking the U.S. market by storm, there’s nothing in my mind that could put the stamp of approval on our suite of solutions for retail marketers more than “American Express”.
We’re already hard at work with the Client Relationship Managers in American Express’ Global Merchant Services team to identify suitable retailers to include in the first phase of the program and are already off to a flying start. Once AmEx lets a client know that we can help drive business across their in-store, social media, mobile, e-commerce and online channels, merchants become very, very interested in opening up a dialogue. We already have discussions going with leading retailers in the gifting, sporting goods, fashion and home goods categories as a result of American Express referrals.
Of course our recent successes in the U.S. market also help speed up the discussion:
•Tennis Express Aces Customer Segmentation
•Nicole Miller Fashions a Rewarding Omnichannel Experience
If you’re an American Express merchant in the U.S. and consider yourself a mid-sized retailer—and are interested in hearing more—please contact your American Express Client Relationship Manager and they can help arrange a meeting, consultation or demo. And, of course, if you’re an American Express retail merchant in Asia, Australia, South Africa or the U.K., you can contact us directly and we’ll make sure to start up a discussion right away.