The very nature of how consumers interact with brands is changing rapidly within the ecommerce space, agencies are increasingly on the lookout for partners that understand how to cut through the chaos and put the consumer first. Mudit Jaju, Global Head of Ecommerce at Wavemaker sat down with Simon Reed, Commercial Director at Kelkoo Group to discuss how we expect the market to evolve during the medium and long term.
Simon Reed: What are sophisticated e-commerce clients now requiring from their agencies to deliver cutting edge solutions?
Mudit Jaju: I think there’s a couple of things here, but I feel that the key answer is it’s a bit of a moveable feast. I will say that the one key underlying factor is that clients want agency partners who understand their business, not just the most effective way to invest the media dollars or achieve some sort of visibility, they want agency partners who really understand how a business makes money. Partners who are able to speak the language of range management and price hierarchy for example, this is such an important part of how clients are organising themselves. I’m not saying that we would be going about and advising clients on their pricing strategy, but it’s crucial to understand how these decisions drive consumer-facing communication. Agencies need to be putting experts on the business, that have the understanding and drive to utilise and effectively deploy their tools to deliver growth.
Simon Reed: What key advancements do you see coming in the near future within the e-commerce marketplace?
Mudit Jaju: I think that the real big development we will see is visual. The way that we currently navigate the web is incredibly visual and I feel that this will go to the next level. The visual representation of products, such as image based shopping or whether that means Instagram becomes a shopping-orientated platform, I think that image is going to shape the next breakthrough iteration.
The other aspect that I feel will be really important is the further integration of online and offline. I think that businesses that are able to genuinely join up experience across online and offline, working with each other, can deliver a truly integrated and dynamic approach. No business can afford to get that wrong.
Simon Reed: Who’s doing that well in this space?
Mudit Jaju: I think a company that does this incredibly well is Waitrose. Grocery is a tough area to innovate in, but I think what Waitrose offer is remarkable. They have been able to deploy technology to solve issues, such as their ‘pick your own offers’, meaning that consumers can choose products on which they are rewarded with a consistent discount is almost a new spin on ‘subscribe and save’ in my view. But I think that the way that they deploy technology in store to make this happen, which is subsequently reflected on your online My Waitrose account is wonderful. Waitrose is a company that seems to getting it right.
Simon Reed: AdWeek 2019, Kelkoo are exploring the role of monopolies in the e-commerce space. Are we at risk of becoming a society in which monopolies dominate the landscape and control all of our purchasing habits?
Mudit Jaju: I do think it has already happened. Amazon, certainly when you look at US online retail, is very much a dominant player, to the point of almost being a monopoly. The impact that Amazon has on consumers is very much like a monopoly.
I think that the other monopoly to consider is Ali Baba. Their effective ownership of the Chinese ecommerce marketplace is where we have to consider everything that they own, from a payment system to a fulfillment offering, their content studios… Ali Baba is Amazon and then some. There are other players to consider, so if not a Monopoly then an Oligopoly for sure.
Simon Reed: Where do you stand on Google as a marketplace within that monopoly context for retail and shopping?
Mudit Jaju: I think that Google’s relationship with other retailers is tricky. It’s not only the transaction element, but the packing, shipping out and dealing with returns elements of customer interaction that I don’t feel Google is very good at in terms of having the physical infrastructure in place as a marketplace. We have certainly seen clients shift their spend to Amazon, so I think that in a funny way Google is challenged in this space.
Simon Reed: What are the most advanced e-commerce countries and what can we learn from them?
Mudit Jaju: It’s got to be China – there is no competition. What’s happening in China is remarkable. Firstly, when you consider how quickly ecommerce has advanced and become much more personable through personal messaging. China was one of the first countries to go mobile first and has begun to lead through that. The real dominance of the messaging platform with retail channels is phenomenal.
The evolution of Ali Baba is one that we should watch, and whether they enter other markets or even if Amazon evolves into something that looks more like Ali Baba is interesting.
Simon Reed: Kelkoo are celebrating 20 years in e-commerce this year, what will e-commerce look like in 2039?
Mudit Jaju: We’ve talked so much about Amazon, but I think Amazon in 2039 will look very different. I’m not sure what will happen from a regulatory standpoint but I think Amazon will start to look a lot like Ali Baba. The Amazon-Ali Baba collision will look very interesting and I think is set to happen. I think the nature of stores will change too, to become more like digitally relevant warehouses, operating on a pop up or shared basis and the way that KPIs are implemented will change.
The other factor is cars. I think that the way car technology is set to evolve, offers such as in-car shopping is going to be quite interesting to watch.