What Do Retailers Need To Do As Commerce Goes Through A State Of Disruption?

  • April 29, 2014 at 12:01 PM EDT
  • By Retail TouchPoints Team
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By Sanjay Parthasarathy, Founder and CEO, Indix



Commerce is being disrupted. The rapid adoption of technologies such as smartphones, iBeacons, geo-fencing, and wearable devices are raising consumers’ expectations for a hyper-personalized and seamless shopping experience. Retailers need to adapt quickly if they want to stay ahead in this changing landscape. They need to ensure that they deliver the right product, to the right person, at the right time, and the right place.


Considerations in commerce have moved way beyond the traditional model of the four Ps (product, price, place, and promotion). Commerce is now pervasive, participative, personalized and dynamic. In the age of pervasive commerce, every interaction with a consumer in the physical world or online, is an opportunity to inform, educate, as well as buy or sell products and services.

Retailers need to understand that this is a consumer-centric era of commerce where consumers will get whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, and delivered in a way that is most convenient for them. So, what do retailers need in order to enable that?

One critical need is access to a standardized and normalized product catalog for every product available in the world. If their product offers and promotions are delivered consistently across the multiple channels that they use, they can take advantage of the opportunity.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal said that retailers who are “building up their e-Commerce businesses require more detailed product data from suppliers in order to satisfy web-savvy customers. But sharing that data in a standardized way is still a work in progress, with retailers sometimes providing inconsistent information about the same product online.”

The solution here is to have an “infinite” product catalog in the cloud. A catalog that offers comprehensive, dynamic, and up-to-date information on a broad selection of products in a deep level of detail with lots and lots of attributes such as price, material, discounts, color, availability, ingredients, where it was designed, where it was manufactured, and so on. 

The perfect product offer is at the intersection of this deep level of product data and the deep level of data that retailers already have about their prospective customers’ shopping history, browsing behaviors, social interactions and the like.

Netflix is a great example of a company that combines detailed user and domain data to provide their subscribers with a very targeted and personalized experience. They have the most comprehensive and detailed database of motion pictures today. They have tagged each film with several different attributes, resulting in the formation of more than 76,897 micro-genres enabling them to be categorized in ways such as “witty, dysfunctional-family animated comedies.” So the subscriber can receive personalized recommendations and also search for any given combination of movie attributes.

The move to have a similar richness and depth of information about all products is well on its way. Retailers that understand the importance of having deep and detailed product data will thrive in this time of disruption in commerce and come out as winners on the other side.

Sanjay Parthasarathy is Founder and CEO of the big data product intelligence company Indix. You can follow him on Twitter at @sanjaypat.



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