Major Tom has appointed two new team members on our Toronto eCommerce team, Sonal Garg and Devyn Bauman, as a result of gaining a number of new clients in the retail space. They’ve joined the team to help us bring more value to our retail clients by accelerating transformation and growth on Amazon, Google Shopping, and other digital channels.

Left to right: Devyn Bauman and Sonal Garg

Senior Paid Search Strategist Devyn Bauman was previously at Rank Media Agency as the Media Director, overseeing a team of Media Buyers. Her focus was in the eCommerce, health insurance, and real estate sectors and worked with clients such as Canada Luggage Depot, Cobra Puma Golf, Ava Haircare, and Urban Capital. Her diverse skill set will be focused on paid media strategy, account management, and expanding Major Tom’s eCommerce department.

Senior Account Manager Sonal Garg comes from Zoomcar as a Business Growth Lead where her focus was to drive omnichannel growth strategy. Prior to that, she has worked with Dentsu Aegis Network as a Senior Manager of Business Strategy. Her expertise at Major Tom will be digital strategy with a focus on growing the account services team.

Read on to discover what Sonal and Devyn believe are the biggest challenges facing retailers in the coming years.

Where do you see the evolution of digital commerce going?

Sonal: Digital consumers are evolving. They switch amongst multiple devices, have low attention spans and demand higher personalization and convenience from the brands they interact with. It has become imperative for brands to create a streamlined omnichannel experience for their customers. Consumers now use digital touchpoints at all levels of their purchase journey — discovery, consideration, purchase, and repeat.

In return, brands today have access to a larger consumer base than ever before (read: global). They have large amounts of data to create a personalized experience and more platforms to reach the consumer at the right moments. With brands creating the right kind of product, marketing, and consumer experience, I can see digital eCommerce both growing and evolving in the near future.

With the ever-changing mobile landscape, how is shopping behavior shifting?

Devyn: Despite an increase in mobile device usage and mobile eCommerce sales, the majority of shoppers who begin their purchase journey on a smartphone don’t finish there. To close the extreme gap between mobile and desktop conversion rates, mobile design and mobile-first buying have to become the forefront of a brand’s eCommerce strategy. These include, but aren’t limited to, providing mobile-first payment options, enabling checkout entry through payment gateways, and optimizing for mobile and desktop separately.

How do you see robots such as chatbots and artificial intelligence enhancing a customer’s overall shopping experience?

Sonal: Chatbots and artificial intelligence both are excellent for marketers to improve their customer experience. Many chatbots on websites are created with limited technology to just answer templatized customer questions. A more intuitive use of chatbots would be not just as a post-purchase service-bot but as a powerful tool for customers throughout their purchase journeys. Chatbots can be game-changers if they are utilized properly.

Is eCommerce really killing brick and mortar stores?

Sonal: I believe that eCommerce provides the opportunity to optimize and in time increase profitability from brick and mortar stores. eCommerce has definitely downsized the number of offline stores, but it can’t kill brick and mortar stores altogether. It’s no longer a debate of ‘Offline vs Online’. Brands and marketers need to better understand the value of each touchpoint for driving their business. For example, an offline store experience is still pivotal to deliver the touch-and-feel experience of products, while the convenience of browsing and ordering from home can only be provided with an online store.

Devyn: eCommerce is killing some brick and mortar stores. The majority of eCommerce sales today continue to go to the large retail giants who offer a wide variety of products, free shipping, and free returns. Brands who can’t meet these lengthy consumer demands struggle to compete. In order for companies to thrive both online and in brick and mortar, brands must bridge the two mediums. How do they do that? By giving eCommerce the look, feel, and personalization of shopping at your favorite store, and by giving retail stores the speed, efficiency, and convenience of shopping online.

How do you see influencer marketing evolving?

Sonal: Influencer marketing will evolve tremendously. Some of this evolution will be driven by the ecosystem growth. More powerful platforms and tools are in-market to shorten the time lag from an influencer video-view to purchase. An example is that of WeChat where audiences can purchase products shown in an influencer’s video/post right from the app. The shift from just coupon code delivery to actual purchases from a feed will help marketers better gauge the ROI of influencer marketing.

Devyn: Only increasing. Consumers want to connect to a person first and foremost, and through that make informed buying decisions to connect with a brand. With such a large percentage of research and shopping occurring online, influencer marketing is a great way to reach consumers in that online discovery phase, but in a personalized way.

What are the trends around responsible or ethical consumerism? How can retailers adapt to this growing movement?

Sonal: It is rather sad to see that with tremendous technological advancement, we have lost sight of sustainable business practices. The threats to the environment are real. Both consumers and brands are now aware of this. Consumers have started appreciating brands with ethical consumer practices. For retailers, this provides both opportunities and threats. Ethical retailers can go all out in communicating the ethical threads of their businesses and drive higher loyalty, while unethical businesses will have to evolve to improve their practices.

Looking to expand and grow your brand’s eCommerce offering? Our team at Major Tom would love to chat. Get in touch with us.