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Exclusive Q&A: Wish engages customers with digital content

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Wish is betting big on shoppable video.

One of the world’s largest mobile e-commerce platforms is staying ahead of customer experience trends with a content-centric approach.

Tarun Jain, chief product officer/chief customer officer, Wish, recently spoke with Chain Store Age about what he sees as the direction of digital commerce and how Wish is proactively designing a customer experience strategy in response to developing shopper preferences.

[Read more: Wish strengthens customer support]

What major digital commerce trends do you currently see?
I would say there are three broad trends, the first one is when you look at the Gen Z and younger millennial customer population, they spend a lot of their time in content consumption, on different social platforms and from other sources. And this content consumption is not just shaping their ideas, their beliefs and values, but is also shaping commercial journeys for them.

Digital content is becoming a big source of where these young consumers derive inspiration of what they want to buy, the services they want to subscribe to, and so on. That trend, which we usually call discovery-based commerce, is only going to grow. It’s growing much faster than traditional e-commerce.

The second big trend is that it's just a matter of time before videos will start becoming primary modes of digital commerce. We already see that happening in Southeast Asia, with shoppable videos and livestreams.

What we see is that when customers engage with video experiences before they buy something, it drives higher conversions that actually drive more trust, less returns, better customer net promoter score, and better authenticity.

The third piece that I call out is that trust dynamics have changed a lot, especially with Gen Z and younger millennials. They don't want brand-sponsored or business-sponsored messaging. They actually trust creators and people like them a lot more, so the creator economy is thriving and growing at unprecedented rates.

And this trust dynamic is bringing the social aspect into digital commerce, which never existed before so here are three big trends that we see shaping up what digital commerce would look like over the next three to five years.

Our bet is that this is not going to be a small incremental change. This will be a step function change, because the segment of customers who are going to contribute to most commerce in the next two to five years interact very differently with their mobile devices and with their content consumption patterns. They interact very differently with who they believe and who they trust. For Wish, these are the three big trends, medium- to longer-term, that are happening in e-commerce.

Is Wish doing anything in the areas of livestream and shoppable video, or creator commerce?
Wish is doing a lot of work with shoppable video right now. We started rolling it out in February 2022 as a beta test, and we have really scaled it up over the last four to six months. The way we think of shoppable video is different from how a social platform would think of it.

Commerce is our DNA. The videos have helped us conduct commerce. For us, videos have to be shoppable. They need to be commercial, they need to move. Videos need to create intent for the customer. They need to create inspiration for the customer.

And our shoppable videos should move the customer down the funnel from their seeing an interesting-looking product and make it easy for them to buy. We are seeing very promising results in in the early stages of this evolution. It's a big bet for us. We have hundreds and thousands of videos on the platform now. Users who engage with that experience really enjoy it.

[Read more: Wish rolls out shoppable video]

Are those creator videos or videos that Wish is producing?
A majority are the videos that our merchants gave us. We really wanted the videos to reflect the true essence of the product. We also run an influencer program where we bring influencers onboard and share some of our products with them. Then influencers spend time with those products and can create some of that content.

We have about 100 influencers on the platform and we're actively working on scaling out that program into next year, where influencer-generated videos will become a great source of customer inspiration not just on Wish, but on other platforms.

What advice would you give other retailers that would like to get a shoppable video program up and running quickly?
Shoppable videos create a great sense of discovery; they create authenticity and trust in the experience. For e-commerce platforms, my big recommendation would be to start thinking more about discovery as a mechanism to show your customers products that are inspirational, that are aspirational, and building those in their commerce journeys.

The fastest way to scale shoppable videos is the merchant channel, followed by the influencer channel. Also, the quality of the videos needs to be really high. If you think about the cognitive load on the customer, they can skim through images very fast, but video is a much bigger commitment, so the quality needs to be much higher. And the personalization aspect of videos is really important, because video is a much higher-engagement channel.

Will supply chain issues still have a significant impact on e-commerce in the next 12 months?
I cannot comment about other marketplaces, but for us, the supply chain has definitely gotten much better. Across the board, what we see is things have gotten much better with all of our global retailers from a supply chain perspective. On-time delivery rates are north of 95% now, and were much lower last year due to COVID-19.

I will call out that Wish is in a business where we sell a lot of exotic products. They are not mass-produced, so there is not as much of an effect that you would see on other marketplaces and even with that kind of product distribution.

[Read more: Survey: Supply chain disruption to continue]

Do you have other advice on engaging today’s digital consumer?
A big part of consumers’ behavior change is on the discovery side. They don't come to your site with an intent, saying, ‘I want to buy running shoes.’ They come into an e-commerce space and they're exploring what's there.

But exploration cannot be unbounded. So personalization is really important. As an e-commerce player, you really need to understand more about the customer, their interests, their hobbies, what they like, and their demographics; and then curate the experience for them. Find the right sort of products that would interest them in any category. I really think that great experiences coupled with pricing will become big differentiators to where to customers go and shop and where they do not shop, both during this holiday season and into next year.

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