COVID-19 is changing consumer behavior and driving more people to shop online. At BigBasket alone, we have witnessed a surge in demand by 5X – 6X during the initial days of the lockdown in India. While the pandemic has driven the global demand for essentials and goods online, it has also brought on some new challenges for the e-commerce industry.
Leveraging artificial intelligence and data science to optimize e-commerce operations
Balancing the extra-ordinary surge in online orders with limited resources is not easy. As we adapt to ‘the new normal’, artificial intelligence and data science will play a more significant role in shaping customer experience for e-commerce. AI-driven analytics and automation can help in proactively monitoring and detecting the root cause of issues in real-time, thereby enabling companies to optimize the efficiency of multiple e-commerce functions such as Supply Chain, Marketing, Merchandising, Analytics, and Category Marketing that impact the overall brand experience. Here are some of the key areas where augmented analytics will play a critical role:
1. To drive customer experience
From elderly shoppers to first-time app users, the COVID-19 crisis has motivated many consumers to use e-commerce platforms. Meeting customer expectations is critical to engage new users and build customer loyalty. AI-driven analytics can help in spotting trends and identifying incidents that impact customer experience. You can understand and predict the shopping experience you deliver by tracking key metrics such as slot availability, demand for products, etc. You can take corrective actions in time to improve the user experience.
2. To improve merchandising
It is a no brainer that if you get your merchandising right, you will have more online sales. In a pandemic situation, it is even more critical to get the right messaging and products in front of your users. From assortment planning, tracking offers of competitors to managing user-specific personalization, a lot goes into merchandising in e-commerce. With AI-driven analytics and insights, retailers can make smart merchandising decisions to get the right products in front of the right audience.
3. To optimize supply chain and operations
The supply chain is the most critical and challenging function in e-commerce. You have to continually optimize the supply chain and operations to make it more customer-centric. This involves actively tracking multiple metrics such as Delivery lead time, Delivery efficiency, logistics partnerships, and warehousing. By detecting and acting on the root causes of issues, retailers can effectively optimize their resources to achieve more productivity and deliver a frictionless customer experience.
There is no better time than now to invest efforts in understanding the business impact of the initiatives taken up in recent months and focus on critical areas that need attention.
As the world tries its best to flatten the curve, lifestyles and market conditions will continue to evolve. The definition of normal for performance metrics will continue to change. It is important to stay calm, monitor, and work on metrics that matter the most to you.
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Subramanian M S (Mani) is the Head of Category Marketing and Analytics at BigBasket – India’s largest online grocery and food store. He has over 18 years of experience in leading Analytics and consulting projects for global companies such as Dell, McKinsey, Infosys, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is an alumnus of the University of Madras, IIM-Ahmedabad, and MIT. He has spoken in several industry forums for data science and authored articles for leading online publications. He is also the co-author of ‘Say No to Jugaad: The Making of Big Basket’, a book on BigBasket’s startup journey.