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‘We are using AI and big data to measure customer behaviour, demographic, and CX metrics’

One of India’s biggest B2B commerce marketplace, ShakeDeal has been emphasising on digital-first and customer centric processes. In an interaction with Express Computer, Santhosh Reddy, Co-founder and VP – Technology, ShakeDeal, outlines how ShakeDeal is leveraging emerging technologies in this direction

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What’s your assessment of the Covid-19 disruption, in terms of the challenges and opportunities for the B2B e-commerce vertical?
Covid-19 has proved to be a watershed moment for the online commerce industry. It has brought unprecedented disruption, tested the resiliency of business models and accelerated the pace of digital transformation. Lockdowns did pose a hurdle, in the March-April period, and free movement of goods was hampered. But with relaxation in lockdown rules, things improved. Lockdowns resulted in pent up demand, especially for essentials, IT products and safety products. There has been a significant surge in demand for hygiene essentials and protective masks. Covid-19 has presented a unique opportunity to business owners to revisit their product and services category and pivot towards sustainability.

How was ShakeDeal’s preparedness to address the challenges posed by the situation, with regards to IT and digital practices and organisation culture?
To ensure business continuity in the wake of disruption, we focused on two traits: preparedness and resilience. Even before the pandemic, we were working in an agile business environment and had business continuity plans in place to tackle disruptions in business operations.  We are continually working towards improving our processes to future proof our business.  We acted swiftly and implemented arrangements of remote access infrastructure, tools for the workforce and advised staff to work from home even before the lockdown started. We have always been a digital-first organisation, and our workforce has been using collaborative tools like Zoom and Slack for brainstorming and working with remote teams in different geographies.

What have been the major trend shifts among your customers during this period?
Consumers are buying more hygiene essentials, protective face masks, disinfectants, etc. More and more consumers are opting for digital payments. As income levels are stressed, there has been a shift towards lending or credit-based payments. We are witnessing that more customers are placing orders through ShakeDeal’s PartPay option . PartPay allows consumers to place an order by paying 30 per cent of the order value, applicable for order values over Rs 5,000, and remaining on the delivery of goods. This payment method is getting more traction because it does not have any hidden fees or charges.

How artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies transform the customer experience, and what are your efforts in this direction?
AI and machine learning chatbots are improvising customer experience remarkably. These technologies have changed the way companies interact with their customers. At ShakeDeal, we are following a customer-centric culture. We are using AI and big data to measure customer behaviour, demographic, and other customer experience metrics. We at ShakeDeal have developed Customer Experience Management (CXM) that works in tandem with multiple departments like product management, marketing, sales, operations, and other departments.

How are you leveraging data and technologies such as analytics to target potential buyers, boost personalisation and increase sales?
At ShakeDeal, we have widely embraced google analytics and other technologies to streamline operation, improve processes and get more customers. We do create the entire user lifecycle by tracking the user’s journey on our website, pages, and product interest. We are using AI and ML in the search to ensure each customer gets the right product instantly. Based on a user journey map, we have created omnichannel marketing campaigns – newsletters for popular and newly added products, automated shopping cart reminder emails and notification for latest coupon codes – based on user’s behaviour, location, and lifecycle stage. For seamless customer service experience and increased sales, we are tracking customer queries on social media channels and providing solutions at the same time.

How will digital adoption power the post-lockdown revival and create a new industry normal? What are ShakeDeal’s focus areas in the near future?
Even in the pre-Covid era, companies were embracing digital processes, but it was slow. The pace of digital transformation is a necessity now. Businesses are making the switch from offline to online. In the new normal, companies need to leverage digital platforms to get access to buyers and suppliers. Digital onboarding of vendors has become mainstream. At ShakeDeal, we have started engaging more deeply with our existing customers and partners to see how we can help them by offloading some of their procurement related activities. There is also a renewed interest from a lot of businesses to have a more strategic procurement partner and we are building necessary tools, products and services to help them in their digital transformation.


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