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Guest Column: Smile, you are being clicked!

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Guest Column: Smile, you are being clicked!

Little things, step by step, enter our lives and bring a smile to us. A few things happened this morning to me…

a) My mother, 64+ years of age and a Bihar resident, puts some Facebook posts right in the morning. Her frequency of posts have gone up tremendously ever since she moved from ‘laptop-to-be-connected-to-internet’ to ‘internet-enabled tablet’, in an electricity dark area. Brings a smile to me.

b) I bought music. I bought two songs from one album, one song from the other and gifted one song, just one song to a friend. No, I didn’t gift him the album. Smiles.

c) The Times of India solus ad is about an online sale called CitiOMG 24hours online sale. Smile again.

All these events in one morning! Each activity powered by technology. Each one brings a smile on many. Being socially connected or shopping or consuming information or entertainment, all of these are choices made by the user on internet devices which are making life simpler through advancements in the field of technology.

I am borrowing a quote from Mary Meeker, ‘A lot to be excited about in tech, a lot to be worried about in other areas’.

Technology is an enabler. And it will continue to be the enabler. Online shopping is just shopping enabled by technology. It is just another service. Citi OMG online sale just marked the day of bringing brands together like in a shopping festival – be it in a mall or a Future Group’s shopping festival across various stores or any other. Buy shoes. Buy bags. Buy jewelry. Buy a bat. Buy a cat. Whatever.

I am happy to see the ad. It is the announcement of online sale in an offline medium. Mark this date in the calendar. This is the beginning of merging of online and offline, not just the media but also the businesses. We have seen e-commerce advertisements in newspapers and hoardings. Anant Rangaswamy, in his book on the future of advertising ‘The elephants in the room’, mentions how agencies that are dedicated to online brands are thriving.

Speak to PE-VC fund managers and you will find them with a microscope, to find success in their e-commerce venture.

Some things are going right, but many things are not
The announcement of the first online OMG sale is the right thing, but there are many things to worry.

The design: It starts with the design. Brands need to be developed for the digital world, but they have to be compatible for every other medium. And it starts with the logo. Logo needs to be designed to be compatible across media. The digital world in itself demands logo design in multiple forms; the same logo may not be functional in the profile picture of theFacebook page or the logo in URL. Are we getting it right?

The experience: Shopping is an experience. It is not just an act. Are we designing experiences? Visual design is as important as the navigational design. Rules of aisles, rules of signage have to be applied in online medium as well. I looked and looked around to see what was available on OMG sale, across websites, across products.

Accessibility: Today, in India, mobile internet penetration has exceeded far more than PC penetration.

Very few e-shops are mobile compatible. I didn’t find compatible. I didn’t find compatible.

Marketing and social-ability: A few days ago, a VC mentioned to me that one of his e-commerce projects has more than 1.5 million likes on its FB page. And this question has been ringing in my head – Is success measured in FB likes? If yes, then how are we using these FB likes? Take a look at these statistics. This data has been compiled from Facebook page of the brands that participated in CitiOMG sale. Some of these pages posted about the sale, some didn’t. Or at least we couldn’t spot the same on their page.

This doesn’t say that these portals had a good sale or not. All it does is signifies how marketing, integrating social media, milking likes cannot be ignored. Ebay India has more than two million likes. Probably OMG sale was not so critical to promote to these two million people. But their interaction, defined as ‘talking about this page’ by Facebook is less than two per cent.

A lot to learn here. A lot to keep our ‘likes’ engaged. Continue the faith in ‘Joh dikhta hai, woh bikta hai’.

Integration and integration: Newspaper ads are not integrated with the digital world. The lines are merging and so the need to communicate seamless is essential.

These thoughts are just about the hygiene part of the communication for all of us in the business of communication, in the business of e-commerce, in the business of consumption.

Citi OMG Online sale still brings a smile to my face as I believe in the fact that it is better to execute than to miss the opportunity by trying to get it right. There is a lot to be worked upon. Shopping is going to continue. Online shopping is here to stay.

Getting it right is the question. Getting a smile is the challenge. Think about it, most of us have a camera phone that is internet-enabled and most of us are clicking, sharing, smiling. It is all integrated seamlessly. Google, are you reading this? We look forward to Cyber Monday.

The author is the Executive Director of A Comms. The above mentioned thoughts are personal views of the author. 

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