Vice President Sales META of Capillary Technologies
As Vice President Sales META of Capillary Technologies, Nithin Kaushal has a deep understanding of the technology sector with expertise in Enterprise Sales Strategy especially Value Based selling & Channel Development.
Currently there are over 800 Capillary associates across 14 global offices continually innovating to find new ways for brands to make their consumers’ lives easier, and experiences memorable.
Nithin talks to us about the outlook on the current retail landscape in Middle East (UAE and KSA) in an interview.
- Countries in the GCC are on the cusp of retail revolution. What is driving their growth at the moment?
In a trend that is growing all over the world, consumers in GCC are also increasingly expecting personalised engagement with the brands that they interact with. This has persuaded brands to deepen their involvement through the customer’s journey, and not just at the time of transaction.
The greatest driver of this growth in the retail industry has been consumers moving to online shopping. The ecommerce market is predicted to expand threefold by 2022 as compared to 2018, making the penetration rate 7% of total retail sales.
- How is technology going to drive growth for brands? How is Loyalty, CRM, Ecommerce, AI and personalization enhancing this growth?
Technology has been at the core of helping brands stay Consumer Ready through an evolving consumer environment.
It starts with helping brands collect data related to customer behaviour and transactions across all channels (offline, online and social). This allows for a single view of the customer; the Customer Data Platform is an exemplary way for brands to do this with ease.
Following this is enhancing communication with customers. Mass campaigns and discount-based loyalty is a thing of the past. AI-powered tech is helping brands bring personalised communication to life. We have seen brands gain five times their usual engagement (like hit rates, redemption) when they personalise engagement. Additionally, technology like behavioural data capture and gamification is helping brands create experiential loyalty programs for their customers. We’ve also seen that brands resonate with Loyalty Programs and apps especially when purchase cycles are longer.
A critical aspect of e-commerce is the experience customers receive. Technology can be broadly divided into 2 categories: Front-end (or consumer-facing), and Back-end. At the front-end, the key is to create sector-specific consumer journeys using tech-enabled customisations that are both easy and quick. At the back-end, it is crucial to have a strong Order Management System (OMS), powered by open APIs for easy integration. The region is also witnessing the rising trend of Online-to-Offline customer journeys.
A brand provides a consistent customer experience across all their channels when the various segments of technology are robustly integrated with each other to work in sync.
- How tech-ready are retailers in the GCC, and what trends should brands be embracing right now?
Getting tech-ready for the next generation of consumers boils down to two parts: System Readiness and People Readiness.
System Readiness – The majority of retailers still operate on legacy systems that are not integrated with each other, and prevent retailers from providing a consistent experience across channels. Legacy systems hinder retailers from moving fast with evolving customers because a lot of data isn’t available while recreating a single view of the customer. With new channels emerging (such as online and social), brands can leverage the data generated to understand their customers better. Hence, it is important for retailers to move to cloud-based technologies which are easy to integrate and allow brands to keep up with the changing consumer due to its very nature.
People Readiness – This is a positive trend in the region. There is an increased focus on investing in consistent customer experiences across platforms. We see retailers creating roles like CRM Head, Chief Digital Officer and Chief Customer Officer among others. This definitely pushes retailers in the region to have System Readiness.
- If retailers embrace new technology, how can Capillary Technologies help them protect their data, and how do firewalls, security programmes and anti-virus software help?
Not really relevant. We are a SaaS-based product company for CRM, Loyalty, e-commerce and in-store technology. We do help retailers capture data, but we have a strict data security policy. We use the world’s highest security standards–the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) certification–to ensure that customer data is secure at all times, no matter where they shop. In addition to this, we are also ISO 27001:2013 certified.
- Consumers now have a number of touchpoints to interact with their favourite brands, and data is generated in the form of their transactional history, personal data and buying preferences. How much can retailers know about buyers using technology?
I will divide this into 3 broad buckets – Online, Offline and Social
Online – Online platforms help retailers collect massive amounts of data. Here, the complete online customer journey is available to retailers.
Offline – This is where the real challenge lies. Apart from transactional history, retailers really don’t know the details about the customer journey (such as visit history, browsing history, demographics and other data). For the same reason, we recently launched an AI-powered solution which, on the one hand, helps brands track people as they walk into a store; on the other hand, brands can track the demographics of walk-in customers. With this information at the brands’ disposal, they can know the power hours of every store and staff their stores accordingly.
Social – This is the newest channel to evolve, and plays a very important role in pre- and post-purchase journeys. Brands do have limited information about their consumers here, but the bigger challenge is tying that information back to the complete customer journey to obtain a single view of the customer.
Finally, all this data is integrated into one single platform to create a single view of the customer. This is utilised to develop personalised campaigns and strategies, which in turn accelerates growth.