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Digital Experience 2012: The Top Six Trends for India By: Sudhindra Venkateshamurthy, Head Experience Design, SapientNitro India
2011 was an impressive year for the digital world in India. We saw companies and services proliferate and profit, and there was a strong social media presence among big brands such as Airtel, Mahindra, Babyoye, and Chivas. Ecommerce spending grew almost eight times from 2010 to 2011 and those people living in smaller towns are well on their way to becoming the biggest Internet consumers, out-surfing their tech-savvy metro neighbors. You can expect even more growth this year. The following are the six main trends I anticipate in 2012: 1. CASH ON DELIVERY THE VALUE OF CONTENT STRATEGY Now that Flipkart has found success, we will see many more ecommerce sites follow suit and offer Cash on Delivery (COD). Although this seems to be the newest “in thing,” what we should realize is that it is not just COD that creates a winning business model; it is the whole package. COD with a favorable return policy, great customer service, plus a seamless integration between online and offline is what makes it tick. For example, Flipkart acknowledges the receipt of an online order through emails and SMS. And when the goods are on their way, they ensure the customers are informed well in advance so that they are ready with money. This level of detailed human experience thinking is what can make a service truly successful. 2. MOBILE ECOMMERCE SITES Mobile penetration is at an all-time high. As smartphones get cheaper and better, and the Internet bandwidths provide adequate browsing capabilities (though there still is a lot of room for improvement), companies will get their mobile version sites up and running. In the past, companies often only invested in a mobile site. Now, they will start looking at options to leverage location-based technology, offer downloadable free mobile apps, and create stripped-down versions of their main sites usable on mobile browsers. 3. DIGITIZED RETAIL EXPERIENCES The latter part of the year may see major retailers creating digitized experiences within their physical stores. Think: interactive exhibits and Kinect-like interactions. These experiences and devices that are already making strong appearances in the Western world may become a reality in India sooner rather than later.
© Sapient Corporation 2012
POINT OF view Similarly, kiosks and digital interactive walls will see the light of the day—for entertainment purposes at first and as a support for operations in the longer run. 4. OFFLINE SERVICE IS THE KEY Today there is a lot of focus and effort on “pushing” products through ads, but the same intensity lacks on the service side of things. A lot of ecommerce portals will try to establish a strong customer service network. And companies and brands have already started realizing the value of good customer service. For example, you have portals such as FirstCry.com that will give you a call the moment you get stuck in any commerce action, like during checkout. Of course, one would argue that it is better to create an online experience where people do not get stuck in the first place, but a timely call greatly helps the less tech-savvy. Ecommerce sites will increasingly face the challenges of delivery and returns of goods. An online experience may be great, but it has to be complemented by an equally capable offline experience for the brand to make a strong mark. 5. INVESTING IN EXPERIENCE Smaller companies, start-ups, and new players will increase their spends in order to provide an experience to people who use their digitized properties. Companies have begun to realize the value of understanding human behavior in terms of their interactions with digital products and that will show in enhanced experiences—be it booking tickets online or sharing a private celebration with family and friends. 6. COPYCATS As is tradition, we will continue to see a thousand other “copies” that aim to make a quick buck. And as history has shown, they may make a short-term gain, but eventually the market will separate the wheat from the chaff. Remember, copycats may be able to closely follow the original, but they will never surpass it. People have shown their faith in the digital world, as is apparent through the sheer growing volume of transactions online. But companies and brands that understand the difference between experience and expertise will lead the race in 2012.
ABOUT THE Author Sudhindra is a Certified Usability Analyst with over 12 years in various roles and capacities architecting User Interfaces. He heads the Experience Design for SapientNitro in India and leads the capacity in client delivery and standards. He has extensive hands-on experience in the length and breadth of the User Centered Design Methodology, having led several medium to large projects across Corporate Banking, Airline, News and Media, Drug Discovery, Healthcare, and IT Domains. Sudhindra is an advocate of Emotional Design and is passionate about aesthetics and usability. His interests include exploring and developing interfaces that shape behavior and habits and that enhance the quality of everyday life. He has conducted trainings on User Experience and is also a regular speaker at local conferences and events. Sudhindra Venkateshamurthy
© Sapient Corporation 2012