The future of digital commerce: Eleanor Barlow, Digital Director at HSBC

New Digital Age has partnered with Entropy for the launch of Digital Commerce for the New Decade, an event featuring brands including GSK, Stella McCartney, Pernod Ricard and HSBC.

Ahead of the event, we talk to some of the speakers to discover the latest innovations in ecommerce.

Eleanor Barlow, Director – Digital and Data HSS, HSBC Global Banking and Markets

How do you expect developments in digital commerce will affect your company over the coming years?

I work in HSBC Securities Services so digital and emerging technologies will affect us in different ways to the way they might in other parts of the bank, though there will be parallels. 

In Securities Services much of our work is B2B where relationships rely upon trust, reliability, efficiency but also an in-depth understanding of our clients’, their needs and key strategic business imperatives.  Increasingly we will see digital technologies enhance and augment how we attract, service and support our clients.

It will be crucial however, for the industry to leverage technologies in the right way to facilitate these relationships thereby resulting in the perfect marriage of human and machine (a topic I’ll explore in more depth on 2nd April).

Increasingly we will apply AI and machine learning in order to deliver seamless integrated experiences underpinned by the intelligent use of better, more accurate data.  

What do you think the biggest challenges are for the ecommerce sector and how can they be overcome?

The challenges I anticipate in ecommerce will be similar, if not the same as those across most industry sectors and will primarily be linked to the usage of consumer, customer or client data. 

Digital technologies have made it possible to track, trace, monitor and measure people’s behaviours in ways we’ve never seen before.  This has proved beneficial for many reasons not least the ability to target at an individual level based on previous purchase behaviours or topics of interest.

However, in recent years we’ve witnessed what can happen when businesses take consumer trust, and their data, for granted.  Knowing how, when and where you can capture consumer data in order to connect, engage and sell will be crucial to maintain trust, increase loyalty and ultimately be more successful. 

Consumers must be given the ability to determine how brands and businesses use their data, and brands and businesses in return must demonstrate how this knowledge benefits both parties transparently. This information must be used responsibly. 

I’d also add that I see continued channel fragmentation and on demand access to content as an ever increasing challenge. Finding ways to ‘stand out’ and be heard will require being cleverer and more creative!

How do you expect developments in machine learning and connected TV will affect digital commerce? 

Machine learning has the potential to support far greater levels of personalisation than we’ve seen so far. This means we can deliver far better, far more engaging and interactive experiences which are tailored to the people we want to communicate and create a relationship with.

But the output will only ever be as good as the input so it will be crucial to ensure that data training sets used to build ML solutions are comprehensive and accurate. I envisage that the intelligence underpinning connected TVs will similarly drive increasing opportunities to embed targeted purchase opportunities into viewing experiences. 

As ever, the key to success will be targeting people in the right way, at the right time and in such a way that brands and businesses develop a trusting and authentic relationship rather than annoy or offend consumers by letting the capabilities of the technology dictate the experience.

What will you speak about at Digital Commerce For The Next Decade on April 2nd?

I’ll be speaking about the psychology of our use of technology and considering how digital and emerging tech has altered the way we think, relate, communicate and behave.

Having an in-depth understanding of people’s behaviour psychologically can help us design and develop more ‘innovative’ and unique experiences, products and services. This can help develop a competitive edge so I’ll also be discussing what this may means for brands and businesses today and tomorrow.

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