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Interview: Dilip Keshu, CEO of BORN on CX

The role of tech in creating a frictionless commerce experience

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Does your commerce CX feel effortless? With so many paths to purchase, fulfillment options, and customer touchpoints, it's important to keep the customer front of mind in your digital transformation.

By Nicola Kinsella

Feb 10, 2021

Recently we caught up with Dilip Keshu, CEO of BORN Group, a global Fluent Commerce partner. Dilip Keshu is an entrepreneur who leads an award-winning, digital and content production agency, BORN Group, which operates out of NA, EU and Asia. The firm was acquired by TechMahindra in November 2019.

BORN Group produces unique brand experiences by connecting ten specialisms that serve as the foundation of the digital economy: creative design, content production, commerce enablement, conversions (visitors to customers), cloud technology, cognition (analytics), cohesion (integrating all the systems), consulting and completeness (connecting brand experiences) across all channels.

Dilip is the author of three books, The Race, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave and The Nine Dots, a book for young professionals and entrepreneurs. Below Dilip shares some insights from the retail tech landscape.

Q: To start, I’d love to get your view of the world of retailers and brands.  What are you seeing in terms of broad trends, particularly in the US market right now?

A: The first is technologically I see a shift to microservices. Headless commerce is gaining ground. The second is around business models, irrevocably changed due to the pandemic. Some things are not going to return to normal even after a vaccine has been found. The third is hyper personalization that goes beyond broad categorization of what segments want – all baby boomers are not the same just as all millennials are not the same. We have a theory we call the Doorstop Principle – brands do basic personalization and drop a set of options at the “doorstep” of clients who then pick, choose, combine and personalize what they want based on how they feel at that moment and day.

Q: As an agency, BORN is known for digital transformation and its focus on the broader customer experience, and I’ve read a bit about your Stella customer experience framework. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

A: Stella serves as the blueprint behind the CX of many of our builds. By connecting brand and behavioral experiences on a foundation of data, we can drive engagement and lift conversion for a brand’s many channels. We break down Stella into three blocks – brand strategy, behavioral data, and book of record. By first cultivating an effective brand identity via offerings like creative design, content production, systems integration, and data science, we can then flesh out how the brand is interacted with our understanding of behavioral data to ensure every channel and touch point is interacted with seamlessly. Coupled with our third layer and set of tech offerings to record and manage data, we can cover all aspects of content, creative, and commerce to seamlessly power a CX overhaul.

Q: How has Covid impacted customer experience?

A: Every aspect has changed – financial models, personal welfare and health, supply chains, manufacturing processes, travel, virtual meetings, touchless delivery, immigration/visa rules pertaining to contingent staff. Humans adapt fast. I am amazed at the adjustments we have made quietly in our everyday routines to keep the show going.

Q: How has Covid affected your clients’ ability to be agile in their offerings and fulfillment?

A: Of course. Traditional channels – like stores – are giving way to digital and voice channels. Sources of supply have been disrupted. Existing inventories are perishing on the shelf. Delivery dates dragged out. Manufacturing facilities working under capacity. The demand/supply chain is on its head.

What are the biggest challenges retailers and brands face in providing a premium customer experience today?

A: The biggest challenges retailers and brands face is understanding how to make effective use of all the various commerce technologies to build a seamless frictionless experience. It can be easy to overload your consumer with various bells and whistles without a clear focus and directive in mind. Keeping a build as simple and effective as possible while keeping the vision always around how best to deliver a rich experience to a client is something a brand must keep in mind during a digital transformation.

Q: What are the warning signs for a brand that their order management system is the weak link in the customer experience chain?

A: A weak OMS is going to particularly hurt during seasonal demand, handling returns, and dealing with legacy systems. Symptoms would include a disrupted order database that can’t keep up with spikes in demand and scalability. With that in mind, a brand that’s having trouble scaling and capturing fulfillment should definitely look into its OMS to see what can be improved to deliver more commerce.

Q: You work with a lot of commerce tech vendors, and that industry has definitely evolved over time. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen and what does a ‘modern commerce architecture’ look like? 

A: A modern commerce architecture now more than ever is defined by a wide array of microservices that serve a brand in the goal of a frictionless commerce experience. There are so many disruptive tools that when effectively integrated can really skyrocket business or flesh out customer experience to a new level. Furthermore, these applications should revolve around multiple touchpoints for a customer to engage themselves in – omnichannel understanding is essential in the modern digital economy where we have so many potential paths to purchase.

Q: What additional roles can an OMS play in orchestrating back-end systems?

A: Effective OMS can especially help older legacy back end systems – having to migrate data away from a legacy system can be an immensely costly and complex ordeal, while a strong OMS can resolve and maintain those pools of data by allowing an independent provider to aid in fulfillment over the cloud.

Q: If there was one piece of advice you would offer to retailers and brands as we look towards the future, what would it be?

A: eCommerce is scaling rapidly, and the COVID disruptions that have pushed more and more people towards online retailers is only going to accelerate. Having sensible, scalable solutions will be essential in mastering that wave, so delivering effective omnichannel solutions and ensuring sturdy order management will go a long way for a brand to capitalize over the next year.

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