In conversation with Roopa in The Tech Factor by Roopa Kumar, Lowe’s Vice President of Technology shares his vision for omnichannel experience in retail tech, views on hyper-personalization, fundamentals of business and leadership, and much more. In this piece, we take a closer look.
Driving success in retail tech
Back in 1985, when I first started coding, there were 512 KB machines. Fast forward to the present day, and there’s been a drastic change in the technology ecosystem. Throughout this evolution, I had a fundamental realization: it’s crucial to understand the customers’ pain points and tailor the solutions accordingly.
In the inception of my startup, MyBabyCart, the exposure was limited, in stark contrast to giants like Flipkart, which serve an exponentially larger customer base. Lowe’s has an even greater scale. However, the fundamentals remain the same: identifying the right technology to address customer needs.
While a small retail shop might suffice without extensive technology for a limited customer base, scalability introduces a myriad of complexities—ranging from product discovery to the customer journey and delivering an exceptional customer experience (CX). A robust technological foundation becomes indispensable in navigating the challenges associated with growth and ensuring seamless operations on a larger scale.
Hyper-personalising customer experience
Hype-personalisation in e-commerce is super important – specifically from a retail standpoint and omni experiences. Think of yourself as a customer – you visit sites like Houzz or see something in someone’s house, feel inspired, and do some online research. Now, when we walk into a store, if we have someone who comes to our aid and helps with shopping suggestions, it instantly changes our impression of the store. This is how we commonly perceive hyper-personalisation.
But there’s more to it. Hyper-personalization stresses custom requests or requirements; for example, you may want a delivery done in a different slot than your usual time zone or may want to the mode of payment to be convenient Say you start early in the morning for the office and return early in the evening. So you might want delivery slots in the evening. Also, you might want deliveries in a certain way. Again, today, it’s painful to give an OTP during a delivery. These different kinds of customer preferences are really valuable. There are so many things in a customer journey where offering personalized experiences enhances the entire shopping experience.
There’s yet another point: personalization is considered to be a machine-driven thing. If I cut out people from personalization, it may or may not cut the butter with the customers. Shopping is a very personal experience – it’s like a therapy; people connect with shopping. It’s important to assess how much assistance they are getting from machines to actually customize the experience. I think this gap is yet to be bridged – how much technology assisted personalisation you actually get.
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