Really Great eCommerce with Sucharita Kodali

May 11, 2021



Our special guest, Sucharita Kodali, joins the podcast to share insights gained over the past decade in the retail industry, with a focus on the online shopping experience. What makes for an excellent online shopping experience? How can retailers gain customer loyalty? What were the factors leading up to the highly publicized Toys R Us downfall and what can retailers learn from that bankruptcy?

  • We ask these questions and more of our special guest, Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst for Forrester Research and former Marketing Director for Saks Fifth Avenue. Sucharita is truly an eCommerce expert, and she joins the podcast to share insights gained over the past decade in the retail industry, with a focus on the online shopping experience. As a former Toys R Us employee, she also provides her opinion on the company’s downturn and the underlying factors that led to the bankruptcy.  

Conversation Rundown

[ 02:32-04-26 ] What makes for an excellent online shopping experience
Often it takes a long time for other retailers to maybe recognize the importance of some of those features. I think that many of them have just omitted to realize what an important part of their customer experience is. Or maybe content management systems don't make it. So, you know I think that it's a very long-winded answer to your question. But I think that there's still lots of room for improvement, you know, to be very successful in eCommerce.

[ 05:38-06:38 ] What kind of personalization enhances the customer experience?
You know 99% of the data points that you have about a customer are not that useful. But things like this, which are kind of how can I help you? How can I get my product to you faster? Because I know that geographically I can get it to you. That's a great illustration of welcome personalization. That is useful personalization.

[ 08:14-11:02 ] What KPIs should retailers look at?
There's a variety of pretty established metrics that retailers already look at. It's important to understand things like your average order value but push it a little bit further to take it at a segment level, like, what is it for new customers v/s existing customers. Are there certain demographics, or certain segments, or certain types of consumers that end up being more lucrative for you? And understanding and capturing that kind of information over time.

[ 17:45-19:49 ] Why the online shopping experience is broken
I think that one of the most important things is to hire somebody who knows DTC and understands how to sell in eCommerce. And one of the things that I don't see especially with CPG. CPG are some of the biggest you know kind of violators of this - is that they don't have DTC talent. But they're not people who really either know eCommerce or are empowered to really kind of own a P&L or they're not responsible for a meaningful P&L. So you end up with a lot of weak experiences at least in that sector.

[ 28:53-30:34 ] What kind of ideal relationship between online and offline retail.
I think that it's different for a retailer where you own the customer relationship in both channels you know v/s for brands where you know, kind of their eCommerce channel, their owned eCommerce channel, they get more data than other digital eCommerce channels that they don't own. And I don't see a ton of companies explicitly trying to incent behavior that is financially viable to them and that they think is competitive with Amazon. I mean, if you're selling unique products, you know you're in a much better position to, you know, kind of do things on your terms.

Meet the Experts

Sucharita at Forrester serves digital business strategy professionals. She is an expert on eCommerce, omnichannel retail, consumer behavior, and trends in the online shopping space. She is also an authority on technology developments that affect the online commerce industry and vendors that facilitate online marketing and merchandising.

Retail Tips & Tweetables

In consumer research, the important thing on a product detail page that a customer wants is the estimated time of delivery.

Brands are often looking at the data they have, not the data that is important to make business decisions.

DTC for all the brands is going to be the single biggest area of investment in focus in the next decade.

The notion that people only want to buy from big multi-category, the multi-brand marketplace is complete fiction.

To manage the right experience, hire somebody who knows DTC and understands how to sell in eCommerce.

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