There has been manifold increase in the intervention of technology in business. Every business today wants a digital play. Technology, particularly those responsible for digital disruption, is gaining unprecedented traction. There has been a concomitant increase in the number crunching and data-gathering capabilities of computers. Muqbil Ahmar, Executive Editor, Grey Head Media spoke with Amit Chaudhary, Cofounder and COO, Lenskart to explore how customer experience is being enhanced through technology.
- How do you see ecommerce evolving in the next couple of years?
Ecommerce is bound to grow. The internet penetration is increasing every year. Let’s us see what has been happening over the past few years. Tier 3 and 4 cities are contributing 30 to 35 percent of the total transactions. For some players it is even higher. As I mentioned, accessibility is still a big problem in our country. The top apparel brands still exist only in the top 15-20 cities, but India is a vast country. There is only one thing which is getting propagated and that is the telecom network. I know of many villages where there is no electricity still telecom works. When there is Internet, people will like to browse and understand what is coming new. Education is also helping in spreading the adoption of technology. Then there is something like word of mouth. Somebody who knows what it is will make other people buy. I have made my parents buy and they have made other parents buy, so this is a very interesting field and it is bound to grow. Let’s look at the statistics and we find an optimistic picture. We have only 3 percent people who access the Internet daily. As much as 97 per cent is still out of the ambit. I am sure the USA and China markets will also see tremendous growth.
- How crucial is technology becoming to ecommerce and retail?
We were born online. We were born with technology. We are digital natives. Technology is close to whatever we do. We were a bunch of computer science engineers who started this company. For us, every problem has its answer only in technology. It touches every facet of our operations. For example, in retail, we don’t keep any inventory which is sellable at our stores. The spectacles that you see on our platform are part of display inventory. We are doing a Rs. 600 crore business today just by showing a display piece and not keeping the actual piece, which is actually the biggest hindrance in any retail business.
- How are you using technology to spread and bolster your business?
When you think of a retail store, you can never think how technology can be integrated into it. However, when you go to a Lenskart store, you can see it in action and perceive how technology has been integrated into it. And using simple things like beacons and video analytics, you can measure the amount of traffic that was generated. We make sure that a consumer browses a store instead of coming into a store. This thought level itself brings in a lot of technology. We have put all our robots to make the final delivery happen. All our manufacturing happens through robots. We have done backend integrations, where all these 450 robots of ours pass on real-time information to robots and then they manufacture. It is not possible otherwise to generate profitability in this era, when there is so much cut throat competition. And that can only happen if there is technology built into every bit.
- With the advent of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Analytics, etc., how do you think digital transformation is affecting ecommerce?
Cloud is already there. It is a done deal. You cannot avoid that. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are also there, but most of the people talk about it in terms of if/else statements and do not actually believe that human intelligence can be transferred to artificial intelligence. The other day, I was listening to the McKinsey head, where he talked about how AI could bring transformation to the future of business. I believe AI and ML will play a huge role in the coming times. There will be a phase where people will actually start putting in money to acquire such tools. About 3 to 4 years back, people were still contemplating whether mobile was something that they should invest or not. Today, 80 per cent of transaction happens on mobile.
We are already doing it. Simple things like Augmented Reality, where people can put a spectacle on their faces virtually before coming to a store or before making a selection, is proving immensely beneficial. These are very engaging tools. Every brand wants engagement with their consumers. These are small hooks which will pull consumers in.