Two years ago RJ Pittman and eBay made a big bet and made AI (artificial intelligence) a core discipline of the company, similar to brand marketing and sales. The organization was able to focus and build upon existing technologies to create a truly personalized experience on eBay. This is the definition of a big bet, and the reason why eBay is part of our AI (Artificial Intelligence) series.
In the retail world of RJ Pittman, the conversational commerce does more than assist us in buying an outfit, it uses predictive analytics and AI to design the outfit if it does not exist anywhere in the world. Now that is the ultimate personal relationship any brand can have with a customer. Once eBay is able to consistently deliver this value proposition to the customer and to scale it for the 3Bn online users today, Amazon will finally have a match – and become less ubiquitous.
How did eBay get here?
“Don’t start from the tech, start from the experience and start with transformative experiences that your customers will feel…” is how RJ Pittman summed up his approach at the Forrester conference in San Francisco this fall. eBay is an excellent case study of a brand that followed the principles for self-service that we laid out last week – the brand will enable the customer of the future to post and sell any item without any effort or friction. Through computer vision, deep science looking at images, real time pricing, conversational commerce with interactions, and a world price guide, eBay is building an AI-enabled ecosystem that will have the power to create many real personalized experiences for all of us.
What about the eBay brand?
“The brand is the product is the brand” are the words of RJ Pittman that sum up the future of marketing. Today marketing is less about ad campaigns and more about a brand’s products and the customer experience that accompanies them. This year JetBlue achieved $33M of ad spend equivalency with its launch of facial recognition technology at the gate. This is much more brand exposure than an ad campaign. Without the existing social media and mobile technologies, that would have been impossible. But in the world in which we live, the brand is more about keeping and living the promises you have made as an organization and less about what those promises are.
This is an important note of caution for all those who have brand marketing and customer experience under two different executives. How are you ensuring that there is a real alignment between those two legs of your customer relationship?
What did eBay really do?
eBay applied technology to build a dream no one has imagined yet. The innovative brand did not merely optimize its responsive website (some of us actually even call responsive design digital revolution:( ), it invested heavily in a conversational commerce that will define how customers purchase in the future.
This disruptive strategy is not a science project. It is the birth/built of a vibrant marketplace of the future. Rik Reppe said on stage in San Francisco that courage, flexibility and imagination will make or break our efforts with AI. Listening to RJ Pittman it felt like he has all three of them. Do you?
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