1. Retail isn’t an online or offline experience — it’s both. (3:06-3:40)
Since the advent of e-commerce, there’s been a lot of debate on whether retail should remain brick-and-mortar or fully migrate online. For several experts, it’s not an either-or situation. It can exist on both domains as a holistic and effective experience, creating what we call “new retail”.

“[It’s] about bridging the gap… and using user data [from] both online and offline to create an omnichannel that would meet customers’ expectations,” said Aragon.

“It basically lets the business understand what the customer behavior is, their buying patterns, their customer portraits, and making sure that when [they] arrive at that store, they already know what [they’re] going to buy.”

2. Keep track of the best kinds of toys… (4:24-4:43)
This ability to anticipate customers’ needs relies on relevant information from several key factors:

a. Consumer: Knowing your customers locations and habits can tell you a lot about what they need and want. ADD

b. Environment: It’s also important to know the different ways the environment can influence your customers. Knowledge in this area can also get you a step ahead in certain aspects of your business, such as logistics.

c. Business: “Business always keeps on changing, that’s why you always have to adapt [to] the patterns,” said Aragon. “In the US or in China, retail shops are closing. And that’s because the businesses weren’t able to translate what the people really want.”

d. Technology: Invest in technology that can help make your processes easier and more efficient. Also, keep track of the latest apps and tech that customers are using: it can be as simple as joining a platform marketplace to increase sales.

3. … and the marketplace can become your playground. (5:56-6:27, 9:21-9:38)
With both offline and online platforms and tons of information at your fingertips, the possibilities are truly endless. Get creative with the ways that you can integrate these aspects so that you can offer the best experience to your customers.

Consider Alibaba’s TMall. Aside from being able to purchase from its online platform, you can also go to their physical malls and purchase items through a vendo machine using QR codes.

TMall’s neighborhood convenience store is a great example of using data to lessen friction. Its LST system can recommend products to be stocked in a store based on demographics and purchasing behavior of customers around its area.

4. Invest in maximizing the customer journey… (10:28-10:38, 11:51-12:13)
A customer’s purchase journey can be a treasure trove of information, but only if you know where to look. Evaluate the process from start to finish, and you’ll identify key points from which you can unlock great insights.

For instance, Alibaba utilizes machine vision technology while customers consider products to analyze their facial expressions. They also use movement tracking and heat maps to identify which areas in their malls the customers are flocking to.

If these examples seem to advanced, try to revisit available services that you may be taking for granted. While utilizing chatbots and reading customer reviews may seem so simple in theory, they can effectively glean ways to improve your products.

5. … and challenge your network while you’re at it. (11:34-11:44)
Customer experience isn’t the only thing that you can help improve on during the purchase journey. Identify where your network gets involved in the process and think of ways that can help them exceed their current performance.

Part of the data that the Cainiao Network track is the delivery performance of their delivery providers. At the end of the year, they display their rankings to customers while assessing with the bottom-placers how they can improve.

“Business owners have egos; they will say, ‘Why am I ranked 10?’” said Aragon. “So they will try to work better and better everywhere to make sure that all deliveries are properly managed.”

Those interested in applying for the Alibaba eFounders Program can find more information at this link. The upcoming program class will take place from Dec 2 to 12. The deadline for applications is on Oct 7.