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Is Big Data just a fancy asset or a strategic one?


Technology has evolved so extensively to the point that customers are pampered beyond imagination. Every company has started treating all of their customers like rock stars, despite having huge customer bases. And how are they able to recognize every single customer? There is a very simple answer to this tricky question – Big Data and Analytics. It is one of the few technologies that has been able to continuously grow and keep its momentum.

“Put simply, Analytics is becoming both the air we breathe – and the ocean in which we swim.” says a Deloitte report.

As we move from an Economy of Scale to an Economy of Experience, brands rely heavily on big data, treating it as one of their most valued assets. Today, Big Data has become the most critical part of a brand’s strategy. The massive amount of data generated from online and mobile devices, both structured and unstructured, has been the magic key to innovating products that are a perfect fit for a brand’s target audience. Companies have not only learned what consumers are interested in, but also their motivations for re-engaging with the brands.

But, have we moved on to do better than just innovate perfect-fit products?? I would say YES. It’s beyond just creating solutions or products. The next wave will move us from the perfect product to a unique experience.

“Those who can use data to create differentiated insights will win.”says Arindam Bhattacharya, Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group

In an era that concentrates on people, the combination of Big Data and computing lets us analyze behavioral data thus creating a need to anticipate customer needs. This data, when synthesized and analyzed further, will give us the ability to create context, i.e. context specific to individuals. These contexts will allow us to micro-market and micro-target at the consumer level by developing a proactive platform to customized products and experiences.

Future technologies will overcome the inability to react to the buyer’s portfolio, creating a unique experience at every touch point and every level of buying by varying the content, the richness, customer interaction and journey altogether. However, applying the same effort and strategy for a commodity is overkill.

Unlike in the past, an increasing number of technologies are emerging for processing large data on the cloud. These tools provide brands with compelling insights to strategize. Big Data, together with emerging technologies, has disrupted many industries, but this alone cannot be a strategic asset. Brands should learn to balance design thinking and storytelling with the analyzed data for better returns to achieve the economy of experience.

As Big Data Analytics catch on, CMOs and CIOs have to gear up and learn how to make a transition from just big data to strategic data.

-Deepthi Gowda


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Last Mile eCommerce Delivery Headaches in India


India has been one of the late immigrants to the eCommerce world and is still struggling to solve several eCommerce challenges. Last mile delivery constitutes one of the major challenges apart from those associated with cultural, linguistic, and infrastructural issues in India.

Last mile delivery constitutes the final stage in the supply chain when a customer receives the order. With the overwhelming buying power in India and multitude of packages for delivery every day, accompanied by huge traffic snarls, last mile delivery becomes a significant challenge in India. Many reports reckon that the most difficult part in eCommerce is to find viable options to make home deliveries in the stipulated timeframe envisaging crowded streets & unfavorable postal services in India. Pin codes of operations & locations play a critical role in the last-mile delivery model. The entire operation of converting an inventory to a package and then transporting the package efficiently through the supply chain followed by replenishing fulfilment plays a crucial role in last mile delivery & has to be done with precision & without delay.

Forrester predicts online buyers to reach $125 million by 2019 and Morgan Stanley says that the eCommerce sales will hit $100 billion by 2020 in India alone. Clearly, eCommerce in India is poised to grow at a phenomenal rate. Given the current scenario, the eCommerce explosion has created a common platform for consumers across India to attract more consumers to shop online. This burgeon growth has resulted in a pressing need to create a compelling ecosystem that offers a secure & reliable delivery system capable of delivering almost anything in the fastest time span.

Several eCommerce giants such as Flipkart and Jabong have their own logistics delivery network. For example, Flipkart has e-kart and Jabong has GoJavas (spun-off but still works for Jabong) to handle a significant portion of their total eCommerce shipments. Added to that, Flipkart has also launched a crowd-sourcing delivery option to connect local sellers and buyers to significantly reduce the time to deliver an order.  Similarly, Amazon launched their ‘Amazon Transportation Services Private Limited’ to manage the last mile delivery craziness in India. Snapdeal which was relying completely on third-party logistics to drive the last minute delivery to its customers has recently entered into a partnership with GoJavas to strengthen their supply chain – the backbone for a successful eCommerce ecosystem.

To summarize, it appears that India is still struggling to solve some of the eCommerce challenges, logistics being one of them. Buyer expectations are increasing boundlessly. Therefore, for new eCommerce adopters, the need to evaluate robust logistics services is paramount if they want to succeed in the eCommerce game. For a developing country such as India, with its vibrant economy, varied income standards, and changing demographics, it is important to understand that efficient delivery services will largely contribute to the willingness of consumers to shop online in future.

Archanaa John

Associate – Business Development

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Language Barrier – a major challenge in Indian eCommerce

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For online retailers, the biggest challenge is to be able to reach out to people across the globe with more the 6500 spoken languages. Language plays a very critical role to be able to do business the right way. Today, customers all across of the globe want to be able to access a website and shop online. According to RevenueWire (2015), it was found that nearly 55% of the people prefer buying online from websites that display a native language. Therefore by incorporating local or native languages not only alleviate language barriers but also hastens check out and order completion for customers who native language is not English. For example, Asos, a leading British online & beauty store, reported a 33% increase in sales after launching their localization initiatives to include China & Russia and developing an easy checkout in the respective country’s native language. Similarly, Best Buy launched their localized online service to serve the Hispanic population in the US & found that Hispanic users spent twice as much as their English-speaking counterparts after launch.

In India, currently online content and eCommerce in local languages still remains dormant, although many media companies are claiming to start making serious space to include localization as a part of their eCommerce offerings. The local language user-base according to IAMAI is growing at the rate of 40% annually. In India, streaming video content in local languages is popular and international sites such as Facebook currently offers a localized support in Hindi (the Indian national language). A few Indian eCommerce sites such as OLX, Quikr (supports 7 local languages in India), and Snapdeal allow people to view pages in their own language. Snapdeal launched their local language site (in two local languages at the moment) for non-English speakers and will be launching their website in Kannada, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali by the end of 2015.

Big retailers such as Flipkart and Jabong have also taken the initiative to launch multilingual sites to attract all types of region customers. According to the VP of Flipkart, localization will be one of the top priorities in the next two years taking into account the high preference of Hindi among customers and at call centers. India’s leading online travel portal, MakeMyTrip, offers services in a number of languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarat & Malayalam.

Similarly in Karnataka, Kannada is the official spoken and written language among the high-tech IT and industrial activities in India. So it only makes sense to offer the local language whether for a website or online shopping experience. In order to establish a solid local presence in Karnataka, it is the key to ensure the incorporation of cultural, social, linguistic, local terminologies that will grab the attention of the local population. Overall, it appears that localization is becoming the key to successful eCommerce sites and becoming an imperative feature for eCommerce sites to address.

Archanaa John

Associate – Business Development

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Experiential Retailing

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The last seven years were reinvented and revolutionized by the proliferation of devices. Devices found their space in peoples’ lives organically; without much resistance. They came in multiple shapes and sizes like a mobile phone, smartphone, tabs, fabs, watches, glasses, headgears etc. With the rapid adoption of these devices and their integral binding to an individual’s life, it slowly took over its only rival – TV. Devices, by far has been the most personal adoption of technology that humans have done.

Through the years, what could be achieved through a device – especially a smartphone has been the most talked about topic amongst experts and innovators. The fresh innovations created completely new areas of entertainment, experience and business. This space has grown exponentially in the last 5 years. Today, it is virtually impossible to imagine our life without a mobile phone.

While the possibilities are endless as to what could be achieved through devices; there is a fresh debate brewing amongst the innovators as to what should be the next avenue of delivering experiences to users using these devices. While there have been a lot of fresh ideas in this space, Valtech has been toying with the ability to merge the real world with the user’s virtual space. This has led us to experiment with Augmented Reality in a big way and identify scenarios where AR could deliver the next level of user experience in the Digital world of future.

We work on concepts where a user can experience a product virtually using all the human senses and customize that experience on the go. These capabilities allow the user or buyer to become acquainted with the product first hand from the comfort of their homes and customize it to their liking before making a buying decision. This helps the buyer to shorten their purchase cycle and make an informed decision faster. The unique ability to experience ‘virtual merchandise’ and the ability to customize, will be extremely helpful for users when they are trying to buy a product which offers broad variety and features. This is especially helpful for such products which are high-value purchases like a car, house or something that has high emotional value to it like a wedding dress or jewelry. To be able to experience a product from the comforts of your home is unbeatable!

For the Retailers too, this is great news! By using an experiential channel to sell your products, the retailers will now have more control on how their products or brands can influence a buyer. By reducing the buyer’s decision cycle a brand is going to sell faster, sell more and sell better to its prospective customers. In addition to that, it would help a brand reduce its capital and operational expenses by being able to keep limited products in the physical store. Over a period of time, the retailer would want to have more ‘virtual stores’ (which are physical stores capable of provide a virtual experience of the merchandise) thus reducing costs and gaining more market penetration using digital channels.

Augmented Realty is a brave new world of ‘Experiential Retailing’ and we at Valtech believe that this is going to change the face of Retailing forever. ‘Experiential Retailing’ will outpace e-commerce and m-commerce by engaging buyers at a human level and delivering experiences with a personal touch!

Saurabh Chakraborty

Practice Head – SMAC

Future of retail

Are you ready for future of Retail?


Orchestration, integration and evolution– the three pillars that we at Valtech believe to be the ones to follow for retailers who want to thrive in the changing environment. This was one of the messages from Valtech’s Digital Manager, George Smith, at WIRED Retail, which we had the opportunity to co-host and give over 350 attendants our view of the future of retail.

The event was a vibrant melting pot of retailers from around the world eager to get inspiration about the future of their business, established players and start-ups discussing the converging trends and technologies disrupting commerce today and exhibits on showcase demonstrating a broad range of modern technology and design, from augmented reality apps and holographic projections to 3D-printed furniture and bitcoin wallets.


On the main stage, we experienced speakers from Google, Etsy, Instagram, Lyst, Depop and of course, Valtech and many more. The common message by all the speakers was that now is the time to seriously rethink the retail business model because the world is changing, and it is changing fast!

“We haven’t scratched the surface of what we can do with ecommerce — the only constant is that the rate of change is accelerating faster and faster, so there’s an awful lot of work to do.”Chris Morton, Lyst.

“It is virtually impossible to gain competitive advantage in the modern world unless you orchestrate advantages around the consumer.” George Smith, Valtech UK.

“The next breed of successful retailers […] are going to be the ones who are social media, digital natives.” Runar Reistrup, Depop.

“The one key message I have to share… is around payment at the point of sale. The most interesting companies that we’re working with are using data collected at the point of sale [to provide a better customer experience].” Andy Young, Stripe.

“If we have a vision for the future of retail, how do we change it? We change the story people tell themselves about the future they live in. If you can change the story, people will make different decisions.” Brian David Johnson, Futurist at Intel.

“Mobile is now the new shop window and there isn’t any disputing that.” Tracy Yaverbaun, Instagram.

“Today they’re discussing same-day delivery, but soon it will be three-hour delivery and then one-hour delivery. Once people have tasted this, they never go back — it is marching very much toward that reality.” Jack Hidary, Entrepreneur.

The New comers to the Future of Retail

Besides from the main stage, there was also a start-up stage where 16 entrepreneurs presented their ideas about the future of retail.  The most brilliant idea received an award at the end of the day and indeed the winner, What3Words, had a brilliant concept. They have divided the entire world into 3×3 square meters and have named each and every unit with 3 unique words, thus creating addresses for everyone on the planet to make delivery easy. My location as I write this post is: wriggle.extremes.leader! People in the geo industry have already remarked that it’s a possible “universal standard for communicating location”.

To sum it up, we live on a new digital frontier and economic era, “The Economy of Experience” where consumers and businesses live online, demanding compelling experiences. Once, the web was a destination and storefronts were only for streets, today the digital world is everywhere and keeps customer conversations connected. The old world of web sites has become a world of multiple touch-points, all connected and enjoyed however consumers want. This is what especially retailers need to understand and accept, and therefore it is important with events like Wired Retail where inspiration is shared. I consider our first event with Wired a success- the speakers, exhibits and attendees all a great inspiration. We can’t wait to do it all again next year. If you want to know more about the event and the speakers, check them out at

Make sure to connect with us on LinkedIn to stay updated about future events or contact us directly if you want advice on how to prepare your business for the future.


Maria Brunckhorst Schmidt

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Adaptive Digital Solutions – The New Approach to Customer Centricity


A couple of years ago, a very hot topic in the web design world was “Mobile First”. Luke Wroblewski originally conceived the term in 2009 as he witnessed an extreme increase in mobile web traffic, and anticipated that mobile traffic would surpass desktop web traffic in the upcoming years. His idea was to design websites for mobile phones first, and afterwards adapt them to desktop screen sizes. This was a huge change from the previous decade of web design, where websites were designed and built only for desktop screens, which resulted in poor user experience when viewed on a mobile phone screen.

 In the following years, tablets were introduced, adding new screen sizes to the mix of where a website could be displayed. With the introduction of Media Queries in CSS3, the Mobile First approach changed into the concept of Responsive Web Design, where the design and the layout changes fluidly and responsively to fit any screen or device.

However, just responding to screen sizes is no longer enough. Not all users need the same content all the time on all platforms and devices. They are on a journey composed of a sequence of interactions that span channels and devices, contexts and locations, and they expect every interaction to be easy, relevant, timely and tailored to their needs.

At the same time, we can see that Luke Wroblewski’s predictions might be right: Over the last 12 months mobile usage has increased 60%, tablet usage has increased 50%, and desktop usage has decreased 20%. If this trend continues, mobile and tablet usage will surpass desktop usage within the next 12 months.

worldwide platform comparison

Adaptive digital solutions

All this tells us that we need to create digital solutions that can respond to the user’s context and to where he is in his journey, and thereby add value to his experience. With the increased usage of mobile and tablet devices, we can leverage contextual information gathered from sensors and our previous history with the user. We can create adaptive digital solutions that can adapt to a user’s needs and goals in different situations and contexts, on different devices.

 Let me give you 4 examples of adaptive solutions:

Large department store / IKEA

I am at home, browsing the online IKEA product catalog for a new desk for my daughter and dwell on a couple of offers as well.

The upcoming Saturday, I go to IKEA to buy the desk. When I enter the store, proximity sensors trigger a welcoming message:

Welcome to IKEA, would you like assistance?

I press yes, and the app now switches to a virtual shopping assistant mode:

  1. Get a map of the store
  2. Get directions to your recently browsed products
  3. Find a specific product
  4. Explore mode: Get offers and recommendations as you walk around

I choose the second option, and the app shows me a list of the products I was looking at the other day. I click on the desk I was looking for and get directions to the room setting where it is on display.

In the kids area, I see a different room setting with a different desk and open the app. Proximity sensors can tell the app which setting I’m looking at, and give me quick access to extended product information as well as the option of adding products to my pick-up list.

In the pick-up area, the app will go in pick-up mode, guiding me to pick up the products on my list, starting with the biggest items to make packing the trolley easier.

When I arrive at the counter, the app can give me quick access to my bonus card, payment, home delivery and trailer rental information.

Discover the future of retail and customer experience @ WIRED Retail

The airport

I’m sitting at home in the evening opening the airport app on my tablet. The GPS can tell that I am not near the airport, so the app stays in default mode. On the tablet, I check in to a flight scheduled for the next morning followed by random browsing for whisky in the duty-free store.

When I arrive at the airport the next day, proximity sensors will trigger information on my phone about my flight:

“Dear Mr. Jacobi, you have plenty of time to catch your plane to Paris. It will leave from gate A20 at 9:55, and security will only take a couple of minutes”

If I check my phone near the duty free store, proximity sensors will tell the app where I am, and the app can give me valuable information about my flight and a teaser based on my behavior the previous day:

“Still 15 minutes before you need to walk to gate A20. Do you want to check out our current offers on whisky in duty-free?”

If the gate is changed, the airport can push a notification to the app, including estimated walking time to the new gate and a map indicating how I get there, based on my current location.

Public transportation

It is morning and I am at home and just opened the app. The app knows that I am at my house based on GPS history or address book access. Normally, I commute to work, so the app shows a status of the bus and train lines I normally use. I choose to make a route plan to an address in a different city, and buy my ticket for the fare.

When I open the app on the train, the app can tell from WIFI and GPS that I am actually in the train that I bought the ticket for, and it then displays status information about the fare, that it is on schedule and when I will arrive at my destination.

 Then the train breaks down, and can’t go any further. The railway company can now push information to my app about the breakdown and help me with alternative means of transportation:

  • If you take the next train, you will be 30 minutes late.
  • If you walk 10 minutes to the bus stop, you can take a bus and get to your destination 20 minutes late. This is the direction to the bus stop.
  • If you take a taxi, you can be at your destination 5 minutes before original arrival time. This is the number for the local taxi service.
  • Here you can read about our compensation rules.

A new approach to customer centricity

All of these examples use off-the-shelf standard products and technology and, from a technical standpoint, are already applicable tomorrow. But to ensure that we build successful solutions, we need to understand our customers completely.

Traditionally, we have used personas for designing user experience. We would take the entire target audience, split it up in segments, and, based on research, we would create a fictional character for each segment, describe their behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, environment and fictional personal details. This would be the foundation of our customer-centric approach to user experience.

But classic personas represent just a point in time for each persona. In order to design adaptive solutions, we need more than that. We need a solid understanding of the entire customer journey for each persona: their needs, pains and actions on each step of their journey. And how we can help them, interact with them, and adapt our digital presence to suit their needs in the best possible way.

By creating customer journey maps for our personas, based on input from empirical data, we can identify opportunities where we can relieve anxiety, anticipate needs, or surprise expectations. Customer journey maps give us the new foundation for customer centricity, and enable us to create magic moments, when we give the user a better experience than they expected.

The insights and data we can harvest from these types of solutions are not only useful for the digital channel. They can also be used on a more holistic level to create better customer experience across all channels and through the entire customer life cycle, and perhaps even to create better products. But the sword is double edged: with all the data we can harvest and all the detailed information we can get about individual customers, there lies a great responsibility not to misuse this data and to protect the privacy of the customers. But that is another story and shall be told another time.


Digital transformation

It’s the age of Digital Transformation


The age of Digital Transformation has been the talk of the town for the past couple of years, and rightfully so. Digital Transformation speaks volumes for companies as it helps leverage their opportunities due to the rapid growth of digital innovation – in particular with the debut of social media, mobile/apps, cloud and big data.

So, is Digital Transformation merely a buzzword consolidation? A bullshit cluster, aggregated into one? The short answer is no!

A golden age for digital

The technology regime or paradigm we are currently subject to – Digital – is now entering its Golden Age, forcing companies to jump on the train and adapt – or fall behind and perish. It’s a flowing trend that every 40-60 years, companies have had to adapt to new technology regimes in times before ours – from the power of the horse to the power of horsepower, for instance.

The current buzz around Digital Transformation is a solid indicator that the digital paradigm has moved from rapid growth funded by financial capital in the dotcom 90’s, creating a bubble, a crash, and lately a financial crisis. The digital paradigm is now ready for global(-ish) deployment of the technology, funded by production capital. This is the Golden Age – and according to long-wave economists, the next 20 years should be characterized by the advancement of technology and steady growth.

All sectors have winners and losers

We see digital technologies sweeping through markets and industries, constantly creating more digital touch points and interactions for companies and customers – aptly aided by tablets, smartphones, laptops, and smart-TVs to name but a few.According to McKinsey, most sectors are expected to double their share of sales coming from digital channels over the next 5 years, and the question is: Who will be the winner in your sector?

Only the bold survive

The force pushing for Digital Transformation is one of survival. A study by MITSloan Management Review with Capgemini found that 78% of the employees amongst the surveyed companies believe that achieving digital transformation will become critical within the next two years. Yet, only 38% said that digital transformation is on the agenda of the CEO.

Learn more about how digital transformation affects retail at WIRED Retail

Transformation across value chain

The first wave of digital progression hit the Marketing departments around the world. Then came Sales and e-commerce providing retailers and consumers with the accessibility and power of purchase at the control of their fingertips. Global commerce sales have seen high growth rates over the past 10 years, and Forrester predicts online retail sales in Europe will grow 11% from 2012-2017 (graphic by


But Marketing & Sales is just one activity in the value chain that has been influenced by the digital wave. Other activities include Logistics, Operations and Service. These can also be investigated to identify means of creating value to your customers in a digital format.

Customer service is a great example: According to Forrester, we’ve seen a 12% rise in web self-service usage, a 24% rise in chat usage, and a 25% increase in community usage for customer service in the past three years. To what degree has your customer service department been influenced digitally?

Now, take a look at your supply chain and operations and continue further looking into your support activities like procurement, technology development, HR and firm infrastructure.


Digital Transformation takes place (or should take place!) across the entire value chain and revolves around digital engagement of customers, employees and the whole supply network. It should seek to leverage big data and analytics as well as investigate automation and opportunities for product development.

Transformation barriers

The digital paradigm is an opportunity to create new operating models or business models, but it’s a bumpy road!

It requires Leadership – to develop the vision and communicate it widely to create interest at an executive level. It requires Change Management – there will be resistance, change of culture and practices, and need for new capabilities. It requires an analytical approach to identify where digital will have the highest monetary impact on performance. But first and foremost it requires Governance – to create a formal model for the actual steering, assigning responsibilities to teams and units, and tracking the transformation through KPIs for the journey itself.

Do you recognize these barriers in your organization?