Direct to Consumer Prowess with Digital

Srividya Kannan, Founder & Director, Avaali Solutions
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Srividya Kannan, Founder & Director, Avaali Solutions
Headquartered in Bengaluru, Avaali Solutions specializes in providing enterprise solutions for content & business driven collaboration projects.

Customer expectations and customer behavior is changing and brands are working hard to keep pace. With much of the information available at their fingertips, consumers are in control like never before. It is all about data - brands are expected to have more data about their consumers, and this data is today is the real power that is driving customer experiences and consequently revenues, market share and profits. At the same time, with these new channels, marketers are no longer required to invest heavily in the form of marketing budgets on traditional channels. Personalization is taking the lead. The more intense work that the brand does in creating and delivering personalized customer engagements, the more meaningful is their relationship with the customer while continuing to gain valuable customer data along the way.

Going direct to the consumer has always existed for quite some time, dedicated stores of the likes of Nike and Apple have always existed, however, digital has brought in benefits in terms of significantly shrinking time to customer reach as well as the associated costs. Done effectively, these channels have delivered completely new business models for enterprises across segments. In a recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), the use of mobile devices to access news on a weekly basis surged to almost half 46 percent in the previous year and the rise of sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Traditional advertising based business models are being severely challenged with the consumer backlash against digital ads. The financial results of Facebook for the June 2016 quarter are just reflective of this trend. Going by its numbers Facebook will make more revenue in advertising than all of the U.S. newspapers put together - of a $6.4 billion of total revenue 59 percent growth, advertising revenue was 6.2 billion 63 percent growth of which mobile advertising was 84 percent. The travel industry is going digital - 60 percent of leisure and close to 45 percent of business travelers are making their arrangements via the internet.

Recommendations and social media reviews are increasingly influencing consumer decisions relating to destination, choice of hotels and others. There is significant work being done to attract and retain customers using social and mobile platforms, right from AirBnB, Hilton, Accor to Denver International Airport and Four Seasons and others, the success stories are many. Take the case of Turkish Airlines which posted a record high net profit in 2015 largely driven by profit from main operations. Right from the world's first ever 'Periscope' live broadcasted flight to creating an integrated multi-platform approach that communicates that they fly to most destinations in the world, Turkish Airlines has been investing in several initiatives to reinforce the brand. The pharma industry is moving to a solutions and outcome based industry working with an ecosystem of players to offer combo solutions that leverages the strength of each partner for what it does best. Companies like L'Oreal and Nike are investing in portal e-Commerce experiences that allow the consumer to continue the transaction across channels from where they left. Insurers like Aetna, MetLife and Aflac have been investing in creating personalized digital experiences to provide unprecedented levels of customer satisfaction, brand engagement and trust. The retail business model with digital is now a long told story.

Digital business is not only shaping new revenue models for enterprises but also helping them engage with customers during the sale, post sales in the form of taking feedback, reviews as well as ongoing customer support. There are predictions that sales professionals will be eventually replaced by robots. In fact some industries have already started doing it. The Forrester 2015 findings for pharma suggests in their report titled 'Its Death of a (B2B) Salesman' suggests that reps involved in basic 'order processing' for commodity products are most vulnerable, while sales professionals that promote more complex products will continue to add value to customer interaction. As bots take over, they will soon become the face of a brand. They not only help consumers find the right product but also provide recommendations and tips based on customer history and user profiles, allowing a great opportunity for brand to up-sell and cross-sell. Take Domino's experimentation of tweeting the pizza emojis to take orders. Tailoring a service for each consumer has experienced several innovations using bots. It not only takes orders but could potentially also address customer complaints if the pizza delivery is late. A whole new market with bot builder platforms is now coming up allowing making it simple to create a customer satisfaction or a sales bot.

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