After the celebrated stratospheric growth, during the peak of the pandemic, e-commerce shows successive declines. According to a report by Conversion – a company specializing in digital search engine optimization (SEO), in August the decline of the e-commerce sector was 1%, and in September the decline was even greater, reaching 4.4%. Looking at sectors, the biggest drop was recorded by sports with 18 percent fewer visits in September, followed by tourism with 12 percent fewer visits. Stores had 3.5% fewer customers accessing their shopping platforms. But even in this scenario, which may signal a strong return to the habit of personal shopping, there are areas that have experienced growth. Websites specializing in electronics and home appliances had 2.1% more visits in September, followed by tools and accessories with 2.6%.
The e-commerce sector focused on education, books and stationery saw the highest growth in access, with 6.6% more customer visits. What this fluctuation in numbers shows is that the conventional store is, little by little, regaining its strength due to the simple fact that the live shopping experience, with all the sensory play of touching products, feeling smells and textures, is a strong competitor, even with the convenience of the Internet. That is why, according to experts, companies should focus on two pillars. Strengthening brands and humanizing electronic services.
Allídem, a Brazilian company specialized in Branding, which can be translated as brand building and management, and which works especially with technology companies, interviewed 335 leaders of startups and other companies in this ecosystem, with the support of important entities such as the Brazilian Association of Startups (ABStartups) and Brazilian fintech associations – AB Fintechs.
For 95% of interviewed managers, sales are directly influenced by the brand’s message and value. But the problem is that it takes time and, of course, investment for customers to understand a brand’s DNA. For the specialized founder of Allídem, Nathalia Frontini, there is no escape. You have to invest money and energy in it. And he adds: “the investment is big, especially for companies at an early stage; however, as seen in the research, this is an investment that will bring solutions to many problems faced by companies, especially in culture, marketing and sales”
In the survey, 70% of respondents recognize that it is important to create an environment whose values are aligned with the brand image. Therefore, a company cannot be said to be outward facing, and when it is inward facing, it is different. The amount of information available allows consumers to look at companies, looking beyond promotional items, the selection process and social media. It is not enough to say, for example, that the brand seeks diversity and inclusion and maintains old standards in its corridors, from the base to the highest management structure. Sooner or later positioning and perception noises may appear.
“Leading brands create deep emotional connections because they represent something people care about. When we talk about brands, we are talking about what these companies represent, in their deepest essence, through values,” adds Natalia Frontini, adding: “what we learned by conducting this research is that, in order to drive growth, a brand cannot just be the layer on top of the iceberg. Instead, it needs to have a solid base of support in everything the business involves and the whole team needs to be very clear about the strategic vision of the brand to make it stronger in the market, through consistency of delivery and repetition in communication.”
Humanizing digital contact channels is also part of the strategy. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) helps with this. Cool robots are gradually ceasing to exist. Tools of so-called multi-channel conversational engagement not only understand human language, but also react dynamically, with a sense of expressed feelings and context changes.
As pointed out by Gaurav Kachhawa, Chief Product Officer at Gupshup – a company identified by the Everest Group as one of the major competitors in the chat area, currently customers have already highlighted the flexibility of this type of tool and its performance in so-called called NLP (Natural Language Processing). According to him, companies are looking for holistic chat resources to better serve their customers, pushing the boundaries of messaging actions and enabling faster, more seamless two-way conversations.
He concludes by giving an example of positive results where a user using conversational artificial intelligence achieved a tenfold increase in engagement with digital services, with seven out of ten types of problems raised by the user being fully resolved online, with the system using a collection of pre-designed models, pre-trained artificial intelligence and a user interface with a self-service and interactive flow and with a linguistic processing accuracy above 93%, which makes the service almost human. And perhaps this is precisely the secret of the success of companies and their brands in the current market. I say this because it is possible to see that consumers are increasingly accepting the mediation of machines, but are less and less tolerant of organizations that do not have a human relationship with them, in a transparent and truthful way.