Expert insights on taking personalization to the next level.
Michael Bower helps companies provide cool experiences to their customers on the web. As CEO of Sellry, an ecommerce solutions company, he combines creativity with the latest technology to propel brands into the future. Alongside clients, Sellry works to reimagine and design the future of ecommerce.
What new technology do you think will greatly impact consumer-facing startups in the near future?
AR is going to completely change many industries. We’ve seen applications where you can just point your phone at something and it’ll tell you about it. We’ve also seen smart mirrors. There’s even APIs where it’ll measure your body from a photograph with a degree of accuracy. A lot of these APIs are nearly real-time. Some of them can even look at multiple different subjects at the same time and figure out many things about them. It’s the future.
How soon do you think this will be a common practice?
We did an experiment this year. We built out an augmented reality experience of an imaginary office space for an ecommerce trade show. We wanted to see how relatable it was. Would people get it? Would they understand it? And what we found was, it’s still a little bit early. Enterprises are toying with the idea, some of them are trying things, especially in the sports and entertainment industries. Fashion is obviously trying things for sizing. I think that we’re looking at 2021 for when we pass that early adopter stage and start getting into the early majority.
What industry do you think will be the first to benefit from AR?
I think certain industries like real estate, architecture and B2B sales will adopt it faster because AR will give them the ability in the fields to conduct a demonstration or to evaluate a pitch better. There are enormous companies in those spaces already investing absolutely insane amounts of money into AR.
What about artificial intelligence? How are companies using it to enhance the customer experience?
If you’ve ever looked at the cookies that are stored on your machine, they’re crazy. Some of them will think that you’re probably into things that you’re totally not into. I’ve looked at my cookies and been like, “Wow, they think I’m interested in soap operas,” which I’m totally not. Cookies are notoriously unreliable. And that’s what most people are using for advertising and retargeting. Basically, it’s a “spray and pray” approach. What we want to do is help companies take better advantage of their audience, the people that are on their site and telling them real things about themselves.
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Can you give an example?
Let’s say that we’re dealing with a supplements company. Right now, we’re segmenting based on a few factors, and we think we know who our customer is. And we’ve done a lot of testing that is assumption based. Meaning we’re taking things that we already know and we’re using that to drive our decision-making. Now, the AI tooling for this stuff is already in principle there, where you can just turn on artificial intelligence and it’ll figure out who your customer is, how you should message them, what is the cadence of doing that. But right now for the mid-market and even for certain specialized enterprise markets, the AI tooling takes a long time to deploy, so it’s not quite there all the way in a deployable manner. Within a couple of years it will be.
How can companies that currently don’t use data science prepare to implement artificial intelligence as it becomes more widely available?
We encourage companies to really dial into customer discovery and understanding the customer deeply. And then build out a higher fidelity version of current generation personalization and segmentation going on. And then based on that, within the next couple of years we’re wanting to have the ability to deploy for our client’s technical wizardry that’s going to basically take those human-defined segments and personas, and take them even farther. AI-based segmentation and the ability for the mid-market to adopt AI is going to be super amazing and exciting.