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Visual AI Benefits for mCommerce Customer Experiences

What happens when you shrink your desktop to the size of a TV remote control? Your eCommerce site becomes an mCommerce site! If you live outside of Europe or North America, and certainly in almost all of Asia, mCommerce may be all you have ever experienced. Much of Asia and all of the developing world’s urbanization came after the rise of smartphones. Cheaper and easier to use in small, crowded environments, smartphones became the de facto choice for most consumers. For the rest of the world, smartphones and mCommerce are becoming increasingly important. Often, a smartphone is the sole point of contact with customers. Professor Norman Sadeh at Carnegie Mellon University started a Mobile Commerce Lab designed to research and develop mobile phone applications. 

In this post, we look at the experience of using mCommerce with a focus on how APAC companies are leading the push into mobile. 

How Important is mCommerce?

Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer says in the Future of Retail 2020 that mobile commerce will drive almsot 50% of eCommerce sales in 2022 and account for $300 billion in the US market this year and nearly $425 billion by 2020. Mobile phone sales statistics show that the percentage of the global population owning a smartphone may reach 37% by 2020. This mark has already been passed in APAC with over 1.5 billion smartphones in use by over 65% of the population. According to the Brookings Institute, just over 50% of the world’s population already in live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered “middle class” or “rich”. This means that almost 70% of the world with discretionary, disposal income is a potential client solely through their mobile phone. 

Mobile Phones Phone GIF by Great Big Story

How Hard is Implementing an mCommerce Strategy?

Smartphones are not just small desktop computers. They have their own nuances but these open many opportunities for customer interaction. 

1. Keep it Simple

A well-designed strategy can be simple to implement. There are many mobile platforms like SAP Hybris or Kony but complex IT infrastructure is not required for a mobile strategy to create a better user experience and increase customer engagement. Mobile strategies with an aligned purpose and well thought out goals can be very effective at driving brand loyalty and increasing users. 

2. Speed

Mobile Marketer says that mobile user searches typically lead to an action within an hour. This is in contrast to 70% of desktop users who usually take action after about a month. Your prospects will be pressed for time so make your strategy intuitive and inspirational. 

3. Integrated Payment Systems

APAC companies thrive because many payment systems are integrated into apps and websites. You don’t want to lose a customer fumbling for their credit card. 

4. Focus on Android for the Mass Market

Apple may steal the headlines with their brand marketing but only 22.35% of the world’s smartphones use iOS. Samsung’s Android driven phones alone command 31.49% of global phone share. 

bugs bunny apple GIF

How Do They Do it?

As we noted, APAC mCommerce sites have sometimes superseded desktop applications or skipped them altogether. You may have heard of ASOS using Visual AI to match items or Ikea’s use of augmented reality to show furniture in situ. You may even know APAC leaders such as Lazada, Shopee, Rakuten and Alibaba but have you looked at Myntra, Xiaohongshu or Pinduoduo?

We mentioned that Samsung and Apple were the best-selling phones. Number three and four? Huawei and Xiaomi, the home team champions of China. China leads the world in integrated mobile experiences with fierce competition driving innovation. Xiaohongshu started entirely as a travel blog allowing users to post interesting tips about overseas travel. As it grew, they used pictures their users posted to tag and connect to products in their Red Mall. 

In India, EMarketer predicts that mCommerce will be 80% of eCommerce sales by next year. Flipkart (sold to US retailer, Walmart) has absorbed some interesting tech including Myntra, which is primarily an apparel retailer. Myntra declared a few years back that they would exit desktop and mobile web entirely and focus solely on their mobile app. This led to a 10% drop in sales and a reversal of strategy but with 90% of their sales mobile-based, the mobile experience and well thought out CX is a joy to navigate. The discrete “show similar” button and recommendation panel is a great experience and a consequence of using a mobile-first mindset. This experience can be enhanced with Visual Recommendations and we give some hints on this below. 

Texting Thumbs GIF

What Makes a good mobile experience?

The new smartphones are not only powerful mini-computers but they are also high quality cameras. All smartphones highlight their phone’s camera capabilities, and for a good reason. The camera is our most important communication tool. We almost always have our phones on us. We carry them from the time we wake to when we sleep, and we are constantly taking pictures and using images to communicate our needs. Where on this road is the store I am looking for? How do I scan the QR code to pay for the restaurant bill? All these tasks use your camera. 

And this is how you can communicate with your customers:

1. Harness the Language of Images

Your customers may not speak your language. This is where Visual AI becomes the language that facilitates the connections with your customers to understand them. Liking an image becomes the start of any customer journey and you can begin to share your unique experiences with your customers. Make sure your customers can share and show your images with others. 

2. Leverage the Immediacy of the Camera 

Cameras are always with us and because of this, Visual Search becomes the easiest way to start the conversation with a customer. If a customer can point the camera at an object(s) and shoot a photo, that image can be a shared source of information. Ensure your site is enabled for Visual Search and let your customers “Point, Shoot and Shop!”

Season 4 Pictures GIF by CBS All Access

3. Make it Fun

The smart phone is often a source of amusement and joy.  By designing your customer experiences to mimic experiences they may have on Pinterest or when playing a game, you associate good feelings with your brand.  Created mobile similar experiences.

4. Offer Virtual Assistants

Customers know what they want but often can’t express it.  By scrolling and viewing items, they narrow their searches.  A recommendation tool can help.  If you have camping gear in a photo, it is more likely that you enjoy going camping and this information can be used immediately to serve an image of similar camping gear or it can store the information (it does not need the image any more, just the digital signature previously created)  for later use.  By utilizing the advances in Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision a recommendation tool can become a personalized shop assistant.

Star Trek Computer GIF

5. Create Intriguing Journeys

Increasingly AI has become better at recognizing not only individual objects, but multiple objects at the same time.  These objects can be knit into a simple narrative designed to intrigue your customers.  Did you forget to pack the camping stove with your tent?  An iterative search tool can lead your customer to look at camping photos and draw inspiration for their upcoming adventure.  Ensure you have novel customer journeys always in mind.

There may be many vendors vying for your customer’s attention, but with a well-designed CX, your customers will return for the experience.  mCommerce is part of any consumer facing strategy. Now it’s your turn, what will you do?

Get in touch with our team today to understand how you can implement Visual AI for your mCommerce business.

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