In an exclusive interview to Communicate, Gemma Spence, Global Vice President for Transformation at VMLY&R Commerce decodes the rapidly evolving future of commerce, and how businesses, in a constant battle against supply chain shortages, economic uncertainty, and a volatile digital landscape, can build efficiency and resilience for success.
The pandemic initiated a landslide shift towards digital consumption, which lead to a permanent change in consumers’ consumption habits online. Brands, advertisers, and marketers are continuously working on optimizing experiences while anticipating and responding to new consumer needs and behaviors.
Gemma Spence, Global Vice President for Transformation at VMLY&R Commerce is at the forefront of commerce transformation for over 12 years now. In her leadership, Spence, with her depth of knowledge across FMCG, automotive, electronics, and beauty brands has been empowering brands, marketers, retailers, and agencies to navigate across the full e-commerce value chain of management and strategic channel planning.
In the image above: Gemma Spence, Global VP for Transformation at VMLY&R Commerce
In an exclusive interview, Communicate discusses with Spence the converging nature of various offerings in commerce and how businesses today can work for success through it.
Creative Commerce = connected culture + connected experiences
Last year, Cannes Lions dropped the ‘e’ in one of its most recognized categories among entrants – Creative Commerce. It’s no news that this commerce whirlwind is growing. But what does it mean for brands across the globe?
When we asked Spence to look into her crystal ball and underline a faint prediction on where commerce is headed, she said, “It’s worth noting that we witnessed 10 years’ worth of development across digital commerce in just mere 10 months, when the pandemic hit. We’ve also seen recalibration and rebalance, and today the world is heading towards connected commerce and curating connected experiences. A lot of the technology, whether it's in physical stores or on a consumer’s phone is very addressable. Eventually, connecting, resonating, and driving that emotional connection from a brand, but also from an experience and moment perspective is going to become a priority to drive physical experiences.”
Spence anticipates that it’s all going to be based on capturing attention. “That’s where creativity comes in,” she added. “It’s about taking the insights from data, and then connecting and nudging people to action. So, for me, I know, the future is going to be truly connected. Brands will need to focus on connected experiences that are addressable and focused on attention.”
To further explain connected experiences, Spence cited VMLY&R Commerce’s work for Corona, the beer, in Latin America. To tackle the issue of pickpocketing in Mexico’s football stadiums, the agency created a new and innovative contactless payment method that turns team jerseys into digital wallets, allowing fans to show their passion for their teams while allowing Corona to capitalize on this most important consumption moment.
Focus on the ‘why behind the buy'
In a recent study, Deloitte finds with an expected 5 billion social media users in 2023, the social commerce market worldwide is growing faster than traditional e-commerce. With that stated, retailers of the future need to expand into service businesses and build ecosystems that attract and retain loyal customers.
“Being a marketer today is no joke, and it’s always going to be challenging. But, what will form the core of every experience is the balance between efficiency and effectiveness,” explained Spence. So, how can marketers and brands strike the right balance between both these metrics?
First, driving effective communication across the right channels. “We're seeing that the echo chambers of social media are becoming great filter bubbles. The algorithms of META and TikTok becoming stronger. It’s very polarising for consumers and brands. So, from an effectiveness perspective, focusing on one can drive effective communication, but it won’t necessarily be efficient, because there will be a repetition of the entire process of executing a strategy on another platform. I’ve noticed today, brands are starting to push towards an interoperable way of traversing the echo chambers in a more consistent and efficient manner. It can be done through campaign management or creative rendering,” explains Spence.
“The second thing is, everything's becoming shoppable. Brands and marketers need to account that retail media is on fire and growing exponentially. We’re seeing in the region, retailers are pushing hard in this space moving from static into more dynamic and biddable approaches. They’re able to have control and entirely manage the customer decision journey through disruptive techniques, and that can help brands evolve and move with the flow,” she adds.
“The commerce sun rises in the east and sets in the west”
Amazon is a dominant force among existing retail media, with a whopping 37% market share in a space estimated to be worth $100 billion. According to Spence, the Middle East, being a service-based economy is set to become the incubator for disruptive models of commerce.
Building on that, Spence concluded, “We know that creativity is the single most important factor that helps brands stand out. But, what they need to do is seriously consider how commercially viable creativity is to their brand. We’re moving into a space where everything is directly or indirectly shoppable. Hence, every touch point is a conversion opportunity.”