In our seventh episode of 15 Minutes With we’re talking to Ged Zalys. Ged is a Commerce Delivery Lead with Accenture.

Ged has years of experience working within the world of commerce both in Europe and Asia. We talk to him about the rise of Live Commerce and how China is well ahead of the curve and leading the pack in its adoption. We ask him what its potential is for in the western market, what things businesses should consider before attempting it and what a business will need to implement in order to do it correctly.

 

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Transcript

Graham  00:13

Today on 15 minutes with we’re talking to Ged Zalys from Accenture. Ged has years of experience working both in the European and Asian markets, and we talk to him about live commerce and how China is adopting it. We ask him what its potential is like for the Western market, what things businesses should consider before attempting it, and what businesses need to be able to implement it correctly.

Shelley  00:35

Ged you spent a bit of time in Asia during your time with Accenture, are you able to tell us a little bit about the trends that you are seeing emerging from Asia with respect to social commerce and live commerce.

Ged Zalys  00:46

I think what is happening in Asia, it’s a little bit like people do have a perception at least like you know, many that I speak to have a bit of a perception still, that’s you know, China is still the posters from Shanghai of the 1940s, you know, is that the big like beautiful buildings with curly roofs as well. But that’s really like farthest from from the truth, because right now, it’s closer to sci fi movies that we watch, when you’re working across Shanghai, or if you even in Beijing, or Hong Kong, as well as the tall high rises, then you can be walking across the city and you will see a flying QR code above your head that has been created with with the drones as well that you can take your phone and scan it and get taken to a website or to download the game or to see some sort of features. So really, the technology is everywhere, you could be sitting in there underground stations and going on a train and instead of looking out the window and seeing just a tunnel, there is a screen that is giving you advertisements or telling some sort of a story as well. So it’s very much closer to science fiction than what a normal traditional perception might be. When I think when it comes to a bit more in the in our space in the commerce space. And in social areas. And in live commerce as well, we see businesses taking a completely different take on solving that problem. Like traditionally, in Europe, and in the West, as well, we have a very clear distinction between the video platforms between the commerce platforms and social platforms in China is not really the case, they kind of blur it all together and put it all into one. Which is in turn creates a lot more complexity in order to achieve this successfully. But at the same time, it delivers that unified customer experiences that that customers get. And I see this really like, you know, becoming the predominant example. For example, there is a brewers called Snow beer. And these guys are do they were selling a lot of a lot of beverages before COVID head and I think COVID was a very brilliant example like, you know, how they dealt with and use social commerce and how it helped to accelerate. So in their case, they realise that hold on a second, people are not going into the bars, they’re not going, you know, not really socialising, how are we going to sustain our business and let alone improve it, but they actually sold over 400 million extra beverages that they would normally do. And the way they done it, they didn’t realise that. But essentially, they got WeChat mini programmes. So this is like, you know, to the to our western audiences. WeChat is pretty much our Facebook, YouTube and other things combined. And they have these little mini programmes that allows businesses to create their own unique representation of them, but yet, you are still within the same ecosystem of WeChat. And they created this mini programme to enable and they called it a nano influencers because they realise when there was a limitation added during the COVID, you could only have 10 people or so meeting together. So all of that regular venues and campaigns that they’ve done in the past, it was really a little bit out the window. And that’s not gonna work and before but hold on a second people are still meeting the meeting in groups of 10. And I think like every single group has got a person that is that, you know, motivate that he organises he or she organises gets people together. And for them, it was very much of like, like, why don’t we let these people do it, like, you know, they want to go out, they still want to organise it. So let them you know, be able to choose COVID safe places where they can invite their friends, they can order and pre booked drinks that is like going to be catering for 10 people. So that concept of nano influences commerce, which is was part of the social commerce was invented. And that just became a boom of Snow beer, which was like four Super X brand initiative.

Graham  04:25

So that all sounds amazing, and certainly something that I would love to experience. But how do we pick up kind of what they’re doing in Asia and bring it into the West, say the UK into Europe without kind of having to reinvent the entire wheel and use what we already have.

Ged Zalys  04:41

Kind of going to step back a little bit and think about you know, in order to answer this question, I think the reason why it’s happening right because like you know why social commerce is happening and how it’s applicable for Europe as well that the decision making power has shifted from brands to the consumers. That’s the fundamental shift of why social commerce is coming into the picture. And instead of businesses focusing on their objectives now what businesses have to do is start focusing on customer satisfaction. And I think that’s one of the fundamental changes that is driving it. And in order for us to get there, and I think like, you know, the other reason being of why that is happening, businesses are starting to look to diversify their revenues. And the reason is that traditional ads no longer really work the same as they used to, especially with all of the GDPR policies being created data privacy regulations as well, that we keep on hearing about and the traditional methods of identifying our customers, making sure that the content is as personalised as it can be, is not as effective as it used to be. That’s what we’re seeing. But if you are staying within the same platform, oh, and using the social platform, you kind of don’t have to deal with that the content is within it, you letting the platform providers disord these areas out for you. And then the way you positioning us like a one step closer, in addition to that, I think customers they behaviour is changing, you know, you have the entire Gen Z’d that is now coming of age and they have a buying power, people are also looking for sustainability and the products that are sustainable. And finally, 87% of consumers in in E commerce shopping, believe the social media help them make shopping decisions, like as I see this personally. And when I speak to friends as well, you know, people complain about ads, but I see many people are like, I wouldn’t know what is new out there if I didn’t get advertised to and I like personalised ads and like some people are completely okay, that, you know, their data is being used to give them tailored experience as well. So it’s 87% of people that actually think that way of the latest statistics. So there is a huge case in order to get to that point. But I think the problems we’re trying to solve and like what we need to consider before we get to that is whether we have our business definition in place. What social commerce means to your business really, like in in a sense, it’s a new channel, and usually the new channels, they’re not adopted as fast as you would, it’s not like it doesn’t happen overnight. If you started if you always be where brick and mortar becoming digital takes a lot of time. So you have to define what social commerce is giving to your business. I think that’s that’s the number one step of recognising the importance of it, and then is really the value of case, right. There’s like, you know, what opportunity size is there from the social commerce? What’s my return of investment, because it’s not going to come in like overnight, you have to actually put some funds behind it and let it nurture it and let it grow until that happens to let it grow and being nurtured that is part of your go to market strategy as well. You know, how are you going to change your business model? Where are you going to sell? What exactly are you going to sell in order to activate your social commerce. And then finally, I would say is like another entity that comes in that is most probably is not very intuitive immediately to existing businesses that are not doing social commerce, you have to have partners, you know, you have to have influencers or KOL’s (key opinion leaders) in order to promote your brand. And like when it goes back to KOL’s, it shows that five times the number of impressions and engagements are generated for every dollar spent on influencer market as compared to pay ads. So when it comes to influencers, it’s a fundamental piece to get it right, in order to get that scaling.

Shelley  08:23

Ged that is really, really interesting. I love those stats, because they are key business considerations when it comes to actually getting this started. And like you said, pulling those trends out of what we’re seeing in Asia, not having to reinvent the wheel completely, but being able to apply it in other settings like in the UK. So aside from all of those points that you touched on those considerations for getting started, like the business strategy, the plan of where you’re actually going to get started with us in terms of platforms, and in terms of influencers? Are there any obvious markets that you think this is really best applied to?

Ged Zalys  08:54

You know, I’m going to be fair with this is like if you’re trying if you’re thinking of selling something outside of apparel, footwear, beauty jewellery, or CPG in general, right, I don’t think it’s an area it’s a suitable area because think about your audiences and think about like, you know, who is using these platforms and how relevant it will be in your reach as well. So my take on that is if you’re in apparel, footwear, beauty, jewellery, or CPG, social commerce is for you otherwise, it still needs some time I guess to mature

Shelley  09:25

So fast moving consumer goods are really where it’s at for social commerce and for live commerce, and then just give it some time from there and then most of the other industries and other markets starting to adopt it potentially if it’s suitable

Ged Zalys  09:36

Yeah, like, you know, that’s that’s would be my initial recommendation, because these are tried and tested industries and we seen them flourish when they attempted this approach. Other industries we haven’t seen so many success studies, but it doesn’t mean that that’s not the case. There are three different approaches to this. There is direct you know, where where you actually go into the platform such as Facebook Instagram, right and you start uploading your product and selling it. That’s direct. Then there is a affiliates, and affiliates is one I mentioned about the KOL’s, they are advertising on your brand, or actually an affiliate unaffiliated selling people just essentially like, you know, shouting and screaming about how great your product is. Then you see this demonstrated really well in Michaud and AliExpress. And then the final one is the community and the community is more of a peer to peer platforms. You can achieve this in Facebook marketplaces that other better examples would be like Groupon or deal share in India. And I really like that there is a use case of KFC where they use the community in order to do the selling. So their approach was very much of a in Chinese customers riot is usually translated almost customer is the boss and KFC was thinking, you know, what if we actually make customer, the boss, so again, they want to WeChat mini programmes and they created an application that allowed you to sell your own chicken. So essentially, it’s for you to advertise to your friends, you get a commission and every purchase that is being made is essentially profiting you. So you are becoming almost like a reseller of KFC, but not technically, you know, people would go in back to KFC stores and pick up the chicken are getting delivered that you becoming the kind of an owner of your own store and you reselling it and they created 2.5 million KFC pockets stores in just 120 days. So going back to your initial question of what is the potential of other industries stepping into this day, you know, traditionally we would be thinking so after considering these three approaches, right, there is about some of them such as Facebook, right, where you’re uploading your product, and you allowing to see how it’s happening, you don’t need to spend too much investment into your other technologies to support it. It’s kind of like a testing and planning and seeing whether it gets activated and you do A/B testing with this, you see how people are reacting with this, then you have to put like a breaking point that this is go or no go depending on your hypothesis. So you create your usual scientific method, you create a hypothesis of what you want to achieve in the next few months. And you do this trial and error almost run to see how well it’s performing on the given platform. And if so, after two months, you should be starting to think about how is this going to integrate into the rest of your ecosystem. If you are new to selling in general, if you been in a brick and mortar store and haven’t gone digital maybe that’s it said, you just focus on that channel and you grow it. But if you already got an existing digital presence and E commerce store as well, then you might want to start considering how the orders captured are going into your order fulfilment process. So you can scale and utilise the same operations that you have done used in the past from your digital presence and your store now serving the customers that are coming in from the social commerce channel as well. So hopefully this just gives a little bit more context, Shelly? Absolutely. Thank you so much for that, Ged.

Graham  13:01

So you’ve given us a tonne of information around kind of how to think about this and what you should be considering when you’re implementing it. And you know, is it right for your business? Are there any other tips or insights or learnings that you’ve got for people that really genuinely want to consider social selling as a potential channel for them that kind of as a, you should probably think about this before you start.

Ged Zalys  13:21

I think it’s an important one to pick up. It’s great when you think about new channels to reach your customers and there’s always like, you know, a profit that can be added but at the same time, there is a risk of that it could potentially could start cannibalising your ecommerce website. The traffic from your e commerce website that you have today might be diverted into the social commerce traffic and the core digital experience might differ as well, which is not always the bad thing is like if you keep the customers in the same environment, think about it. Sometimes when you think you forgot something in a different room, and you go back to that room and you forget completely why you came to the room that’s almost like you know, that’s how human brain works a little bit is that you know, when you change your environment, your brain kind of resets and it’s like okay, so something new must be happening and you forget what was the purpose of you to come come in back there. So there is a value of like actually keeping the customers on a single channel instead of like no flipping them back and forth. And then you are building your social audiences and there is a huge value in it. There is a new reach like you know, acquiring new customers is a lot harder than nurturing existing ones. However, social commerce is giving you that ability to reach out to completely new customers where you can continue focusing on nurturing your existing customers and your E commerce and acquire the new customers from your social channels. And I think you know, finally I just want to kind of add on to few more points that people are starting to think in different ways like you know, how it differs from your traditional e commerce websites and your social commerce. People traditionally are used to looking for customer reviews in order to help them make a decision in order to buy it but with social commerce now it’s customer reviews and influencer reviews as well, then we go into a different component of product comparisons, right? So people used to just put them side by side and see which one is better. But now with social commerce, you might be actually relying on your friends opinion on what they really think about it.

Shelley  15:17

Ged, thank you so much for your time today. All of the insights from what you’ve seen firsthand all the way through to what you would recommend for businesses and ultimately for the end user when it comes to social and live Commerce. Thank you so so much.

Ged Zalys  15:30

Thank you guys. It was really lovely being here. I hope that helps.

Graham  15:33

 Thanks. Yeah. And we look forward to having you on again in the future.  That was Ged Zalys from Accenture. Social Commerce opens you up to new audiences in channels where they love to spend more of their time. And when using in conjunction with influencers and key opinion leaders makes discovery of your products easier. It may not yet be for everyone. But for those that can, it’s a new channel that when well considered and implemented can drive engagement and meet the changing needs of customers. Thank you for joining us for this episode of 15 Minutes With we look forward to having you along on our next one.