Analytics and eCommerce: More than just Recommendation Engines - Vikram Jain

Last Saturday’s Guest Lecture, at the ATI centre, on Analytics in eCommerce delivered by Vikram Jain, was high on interaction and participation. Doing away with the conventional presentation format using a projector, it was back to the white board- rudimentary but sometimes more effective. Vikram started off by spelling out the entire framework on eCommerce & Analytics-with active inputs from the participants.

Vikram went on to talk about how the modern approach to eCommerce, using Analytics & Big Data, has revolutionised the business landscape. Unlike the previous approach of relying on standard practices & intuition, it’s now possible to measure the exact business impact of every decision & action.

Backed by his extensive experience in retail, eCommerce & analytics, Vikram asked some basic questions which opened up the frontier to a more in-depth analysis.

1. What are the factors that made eCommerce surge far ahead of traditional retail?

2. How has eCommerce affected customer acquisition cost?

3. What is the scope of Analytics in eCommerce?

4. How is Analytics currently being deployed in eCommerce?

5. How is customer data being collected & utilised for a more personalised shopping experience?

6. How will Big Data & Analytics evolution impact eCommerce in the future?

This kind of an interactive & conversational approach to the session opened up the floor from the word go & instantly drew the participants in. The amazing part was that for every clarification sought by the audience Vikram always had specific examples to drive the point home.

Vikram then went onto talk about the Gateway to Higher Conversions in eCommerce.

It all starts with a robust data collection process and everything follows from there.

Vikram outlined the most pertinent tools of the trade, right from Google Analytics & AdWords to SAS, Hadoop & beyond. It was a revelation to many to know how Analytics is being used at every interface and in every action, no matter how insignificant it might seem. Take the example of an eCommerce website. Different customers engage with a retail site in different ways. Right from the layout of the website, the sections to include, the content on each page, the number and types of promotional offers to run etc., every step is experimented and carefully analysed to create the highest possible customer engagement and acquisition. Traditional approaches to customer segmentation and targeting are being rebuilt on a foundation of Data Analytics.

It is even possible to track & acquire customer data real-time. It is possible to physically watch how people shop on the eStore, just like in a traditional brick and mortar store.

But it doesn’t end there. The entire customer engagement spreads far beyond just a website to encompass multiple Social Media platforms, Mobile Apps, Emails, Search Engine Visibility and links on other relevant websites. And that is why the scope of Analytics in eCommerce is truly mammoth.

The power of Predictive Analytics is harnessed to learn what products a customer would most likely buy in future. It shifts the game from a reactive to a proactive one, how customer service could be optimized to resolve concerns before they become issues. Predictive analytics helps look at all the different variables to generate the most desirable shopping experience for the customer. Recommendation engines, fuelled by Analytics, go on to display & highlight the goods that a particular customer might be interested in and the offers that will most likely entice him or her.

Another important concept covered was the Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) vs the Lifetime Value of the Customer (LVC), how these two provide the basis for estimating the duration and cost of engagement and how they go on to decide how much and how long a specific customer should be engaged with. In most cases, if the CAC is more than the LVC, it is obviously not prudent to concentrate on retaining that customer any more.

Finally Vikram pointed out how Analytics in eCommerce is not limited to just online and mobile activities. Everything from Supply Chain Management and Inventory Optimisation to Shipping & Returns, are nestled on a bed of powerful Analytics tools & techniques to generate maximum possible value at every stage.

In conclusion, the session was an eye-opener for the entire audience who only had a limited idea about eCommerce and its analytical aspects. The icing on the cake was that Vikram managed to sustain a high level of enthusiasm throughout. Every query was attended to and that itself opened up the audience to ask and discuss more. The audience really appreciated that level of interactivity.

Vikram Jain’s talk on Analytics and eCommerce is part of ATI’s Guest Lecture programme which is a platform for Analytics professionals to learn and interact with Analytics experts across different industries and domains.

About Vikram Jain

Vikram Jain has over 15 years of experience in various domains, primarily in the Retail, consumer goods and eCommerce sectors.

Prior to venturing out on his own, Virkam worked at Flipkart where he was the Associate Director of Retail. As an entrepreneur, he has founded 2 companies and is currently working on his next venture. He has extensive experience in Analytics and its deployment in retail & eCommerce domains.