The annual L-SPARK Holiday Hustle event brings together members of the Ottawa startup and tech community in December.
On December 12th I moderated a panel on e-commerce and retail tech Innovation at L-SPARK, a Canadian SaaS Startup Accelerator, and our neighbour at our Ottawa office.
I was thrilled to take part and wanted to share some keen insights from the event. The panellists included Sheena Brady, Founder of Tease Tea, Karla Briones, Owner of Freshii & Global Pet Foods, Mike Matta, CEO & Co-Founder of Solink, and Kailin Noivo, Co-founder of Noibu, an L-SPARK Portfolio Company disrupting the experiential retail space.
As Thinkwrap Commerce has been a trusted advisor to some of the most well-known brands in B2C and B2B e-commerce, it was fascinating to hear what’s going on in the e-commerce and retail tech startup world, and for those on the front line of retail in Canada’s capital region.
These were some insights shared by the panel:
On virtual reality in retail:
Kailin Noivo noted that convincing consumers to adopt VR technology in the form of a VR headset may not be feasible since it requires surmounting both a barrier to ownership (the cost of the device) and a learning curve (since it’s new tech). He sees more and more utility in mobile usage for VR or AR experiences, intertwined with your offline and online shopping experiences. Services like scanning your body with a mobile device to find out what size would suit you best and other less immersive features may be more pragmatic for companies looking to offer their customers easier ways of shopping with them.
On merging the online and offline experiences:
Karla Briones, a serial entrepreneur, knows that there is a utility for in-store experiences and the convenience of online shopping - even for smaller retailers. Especially when dealing with specialty goods, there will always be some customers who want to talk to a real person about products they’re investing time and energy in choosing. However, the internet was designed to connect each other - so why can’t businesses connect their employees with the end customer, in a 1-1 format? Karla is excited about the utility behind services like live chat and personalization tools that will make her customers feel like their needs are being cared for both in-store and online.
On updating old technologies for new purposes:
Mike Matta, whose company deals in connected security cameras, believes that there is an opportunity to update outdated tech with AI and other modern innovations to improve upon the current system of retailers, both big and small. As customers are already used to cameras being used in businesses, why not improve the technology behind the cameras, to gain more insight into useful analytics for day-to-day operations and security? This concept could be applied to more technologies across the retail space.
On making your shopping experience fit your customer’s goals:
Sheena Brady runs her own online store (and the occasional pop-up experience) Tease Tea, a social business that wants to empower women and therefore donates part of its revenue to charities helping women’s interests. Sheena was able to modify her cart experience to allow her customers to choose which charity they want to support, as well as choose a higher donation amount (if desired) before completing the transaction. Shopping experiences should support the needs and goals of the customer, and if part of the customer’s goal is to support charity, that should be supported by the brand. Retailers should analyze what makes their customers tick - and tailor the shopping experience accordingly.
Thank you to L-SPARK for hosting the event!
Aisling is our Demand Marketing Specialist, and loves working with both technology and humans. She studied International Business (concentrating in Marketing) and has spent several years living and working in China, mostly in Shanghai, where she became passionate about global innovation and how the use of social media changes in different cultures. Aisling likes to keep up on internet trends - from business to memes - and is always looking for new ways to learn or entertain herself.