July 19, 2022

How can service providers simplify their E-commerce selling experience?

By Muthukumaravel Sakthivel

Simplifying the E-commerce selling experience

Understanding your customers’ needs and preferences has become increasingly crucial for winning in the digital economy. According to McKinsey, ‘a successful e-commerce platform needs to evolve and cater to the customers’ changing needs.

Unlike the digital natives, driving the customers to the e-commerce site and keeping them engaged remains a big challenge for most communication service providers (CSPs). The inadequate website traffic often impacts the business’ potential to monetize its e-commerce platform.

Significant challenges faced by service providers in driving customers online are:

  • Complex user journey leading to low sales conversion ratio (visit to purchase)
  • Low application resilience and frequent downtime, especially during peak hours, impacting customer experience
  • Legacy infrastructure, rigid IT systems, and lengthy operational workloads affect time-to-market for new services

These challenges impact cost, revenue, and customer experience. Service providers need to uncover innovative ways to transform their e-commerce platforms. They must adopt disruptive solutions that will revolutionize their e-commerce space by encouraging more customers to go online. Focus on these four key areas to re-imagine  e-commerce platform:

Figure 1: Key focus areas to re-imagine your e-commerce platform

  • Perform bespoke analysis

It focuses on a 3-step approach as below:

  • Perform competitor, product, and customer analysis –
  • Adopt a multidisciplinary approach for product and competitor analysis considering all aspects of technology, people, and processes. Utilize the subscriber usage data to develop upsell & cross-sell strategies and optimize the product bundling techniques.

For customer analysis, analyze and segment customer-specific preferences, e.g., recharges, usage, and data preferences. Leverage choice-based conjoint analysis for customer segmentation and accordingly design the product bundles.

  • Formulate strategy – Optimize the granular details of the design by focusing on user experience. Employ strategies like call deflection techniques to reduce contact center call volumes and loyalty management systems for target customer retention. Validate and finalize strategy – Conduct a quantitative and qualitative study of the designs to analyze and verify the decisions. Perform continuous improvement by engaging with the customers at the right time and place.
  • Implement contextual interactions

Some techniques are recommended below:

  • Use heat map analysis to visualize how users behave and interact across web pages. Look for the most and least effective content.
  • Implement personalization-

Perform market segmentation for delivering targeted messages and campaigns using geo-location APIs to render personalized widgets and page events automatically.

  • Offer product catalog-as-a-service with real-time distribution across multiple digital channels.
  • Leverage TM Forum TMF620 product catalog open API to refine product catalog. Offer OTT bundles as a lever for optimal product positioning as a scalable and cost-effective option over traditional triple play or quadruple play product offerings. Build a keyword-based recommendation engine to shorten the search duration and increase the sales frequency significantly.
  • Implement Contextual User Interaction using features like Guided navigation and Nudges during promotional campaigns to create a sense of urgency to motivate conversions. Integrate virtual and live agents for real-time assistance and get regular feedback.
  • Build a service qualification engine to enhance address validation and recommend design improvements to boost the overall serviceability and resolve the data integrity issues.

Figure 2: Service qualification engine

  • Accelerate content delivery
  • Leverage feature flagging (toggling) to accelerate the canary launch of new codes/features.Activate and deactivate features in a production environment. Adopt dynamic context-specific flagging decisions aligned to the product launch strategy.

Figure 3: Prioritizing and feature flagging activities

  • Implement a headless Content Management System (CMS) for omnichannel content delivery using an API-first approach: For digital content aggregation, leverage unified cloud-based content storage to reduce duplication and geo latency. To achieve content on-demand, bring agility in content integration and distribution across the OTT applications.

Figure 4: Content-as-a-service for digital content delivery

  • Leverage Digital Asset Management (DAM) to deliver connected content faster over omnichannel. Opting for a subscription-based model will offer global accessibility, cost benefits of scalability, and maintenance.
  • Build a no-code content analyser for automated content testing. Leverage template-driven content configurator synchronized with a branching strategy to validate/assert dynamic content changes. A keyword-based data management strategy can be implemented by building a re-usable test repository to perform automated content testing. Also, continuous integration of the test suites with the DevOps pipeline will provide automated content refresh and site accessibility checks.

Figure 5: No-code content analyzer

  • Build a cross-device/browser validator to get actionable insights on page performance: Key considerations while building the synchronizer are:
  • Write once, execute many.
  • Automate tests with security and vulnerability assessments integrated with CI/CD pipeline.
  • Amplify the cross-browser testing coverage with a java/JavaScript-based open-source framework which is lightweight and platform-independent.
  • Enable digital marketing readiness 
  • Build a one-stop SEO engine to improve SEO ranking
    • Build a bundled master web SEO checker using open-source tools to perform automated SEO optimization testing.
    • Use a custom code validator to analyze and grade the website to retain the site ranking.
    • Test these touchpoints to ensure better SEO ranking: Title tag, meta description, keywords, headings, alt attribute, GZIP compression, broken links, XML sitemap, Robots.txt etc.
  • Improve site performance and caching
    • Leverage Content Delivery Network (CDN) for caching static assets like images, audios, videos, documents, etc. to improve the site load time and lower bounce rate
    • Perform image optimization with the help of tools/techniques like lazy loading and resolution-based rendering of images to enhance website performance
    • Manage traffic peaks typical to e-comm applications through CDN, decreasing the load time and delivery latency.
    • Optimize website for search engines leveraging CDNs that are agile and cost-effective, ensuring secure and faster content delivery over omnichannel
    • Improve site reliability with secure encryption and compression techniques such as HTTP/2, server push, Brotli compression.
  • Centralize site performance management for continuous process improvement
    • Monitor metrics that matter using APM (Application Monitoring Tools) and cloud services to track key risks and KPIs.
    • Centralize log management – Enable log analytics to capture the detailed logs for drilling down to identify the RCA, in case, of issues.
    • Enhance web security using CDN-based bot management/cloud-based WAF (web application firewall) solutions to detect any intrusion attempts.

In Conclusion

By acting on the four key focus areas explained in this article, service providers can experience the following benefits:

  • 3X improvement in online sales conversion
  • 34% reduction in time-to-market
  • 40-50% increase in annual portal channel revenue
  • 32% improvement in the site performance 

I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues Prathap MS- Project Manager, Testing and Deesha Chaware- Manager, Strategic Insights, for their contributions and continuous support in writing this article.

Muthukumaravel Sakthivel

Muthukumaravel Sakthivel

Senior Director, Prodapt Solutions

Muthukumaravel is a hands-on technology leader with 15+ years of consulting experience. He has a commanding knowledge of network engineering including provisioning, operations, management of system architectures, and implementation. He is passionate about implementing solutions that rejuvenate Telcos/DSPs (digital service providers) through Platform and Network modernizations, and cloud automation.

Muthu is the Senior Director at Prodapt, a two-decade-old consulting & managed services provider, singularly focused on the telecom/DSP ecosystem that helps clients transform their IT, products, operations, and networks to meet their strategic objectives.
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