Putting content into context is the main challenge for today's business to business industry, says Rick Chavie, the CEO of EnterWorks, a company which offers product information and master data management solutions. In terms of content and mobile shopping, he thinks the industry is currently at a tipping point.
EnterWorks offers solutions for complex content issues. If you sell only one product, to only one customer group and you present your store in just one way, then its solutions probably aren't meant for you. But if you are a B2B seller and your customers expect that you hand them product information which they can present to their customers using different devices, languages, regions and customer groups, then you need to present your products in many different ways.
Creating accurate data is the bottleneck for today's retailers
A solid product information management system helps with storing and organizing product information, but EnterWorks likes to go the extra mile. At Intershop's partner event, CEO Rick Chavie told the audience that organizations should start thinking about which content they generate and how they can validate if their data is still accurate and if it converts.
As a retailer, you can change the product content per device - because a smartphone offers less space than a tablet or laptop – but you can also take into account the different advantages each device has to offer. Take virtual or augment reality for example. EnterWorks thinks, there are plenty of opportunities for VR and AR in Europe, especially within the B2B industry, and the DIY, and food sectors. "In the United States, grocery retailers are mainly active with click & collect and 'online' only has a 1 % share. But in Europe, the online share is already over 6% and it keeps on growing, which offers lots of opportunities for new technologies and applications."
'Not everything is suited for ecommerce'
“We are used to order products via an online store or shopping app in the comfort of our homes.” - But for many retailers it's still hard to offer this to their customers. Take garden centers and DIY retailers for example. These kinds of companies thrive on solution selling, a retail method in which the shop assistant doesn't just focus on the wanted product, but also gives advice and suggestions for other products, based on the customer's question or problem. But garden centers and DIY retailers often also sell products that are hard to transport or to present online in a decent way. E-commerce is difficult for them, also because of shipping costs, lack of advice, custom-made products or the lack of impulse purchases. That's why garden centers and DIY retailers are face complexity in entering the e-commerce or m-commerce market.
Rick maintains, these players won't transition from their brick-and-mortar stores that easily, but he thinks the mobile phone could bridge the gap between the online and offline world for these players. It becomes apparent that mobile causes a shift in content: a smaller screen asks for a different presentation of data than a desktop computer. So a smartphone is important for presenting precise product information. But there are also other opportunities, Rick thinks. Just think about what you can do with augmented reality. You could offer Pokémon-like retail solutions for navigating the store.
'There are enough good examples in the b2b industry'
An example: a customer walks into a store and scans the shelf with his or her smartphone. Immediately, extra product information is placed on the device. And at home, the customer also can get extra product info, by entering the store in VR to see the products in 3D display. Rick suggests that this is a real opportunity for retailers and it's less futuristic than one might think. Aerospace maintenance engineers for example, are already using augmented reality to inspect aircraft engine for repair. By using devises similar to Google Glass, they can zoom in on specific virtual parts of the engine and order them directly.
Going fully digital is still a bridge too far for some retail industries, but mobile could offer a nice addition to the current shopping experience. "How cool would it be if you took a picture of a plant while you were at home and that when you are in the store, you see where you have to be and you can also see which plants are perfect for your living room?"
Currently, Rick and his team are working on a case that could go live in Germany at the beginning of next year, but he expects they can be of help to more players in this area in 2018. "The B2B industry already offers lots of day-today examples. It's my estimation that the breakthrough in the European retail can already take place at the beginning of next year."