At Retail Innovation Conference & Expo 2022 Lori Schafer, CEO of Digital Wave Technology, and Mike Jordan, Head of Custom Research at Coresight Research, livestream and talk about digital commerce, Web3, and Digital Wave Technology.
Mike: I’m coming to you live from the RICE conference here in my beautiful hometown of Chicago, Illinois, and I’m here with Lori Schafer from Digital Wave Technology. Lori, first of all, how are you doing today?
Lori: I’m doing awesome. I love innovation, and an innovation conference is for me.
Mike: Great. So, Lori and I were just talking about the behind-the-scenes technology that’s out there, driving the user experience that people have on various e-commerce platforms, and Digital Wave is a huge part of that. So, Lori, why don’t you explain to the viewers exactly how Digital Wave enhances the shopping experience?
Lori: Thanks, Mike. As you said, we’re a bit behind the scenes. Digital Wave Technology was founded fairly recently. Just so the audience knows, the company is made up of a lot of retail experts that have been in the industry for a number of years, as well as some digital experts of everything from the metaverse to e-commerce.
Basically, we have a SaaS platform for brands and for retailers to be able to tell product stories in a very unique and compelling way and to get it on to their various digital channels, as well as brick and mortar, in a much faster way. So, it really enhances speed to market. If you’re a retailer and you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of items, there’s a lot about those products that you need to convey to the consumer on the e-commerce site. There are images, there are videos, and there’s a lot of storytelling.
If you happen to be on Tik Tok, the storytelling is going to be different. What Digital Wave does is we make sure that we tell that story uniquely on each of the different channels. That’s just a little bit about what we do today. We are built on cloud-native technology, and our goal with Digital Wave is to help all retailers move very quickly with digital transformation into Web3.
Mike: Yeah, and Web3 technology is a big topic here at the RICE conference. So, for instance, how would a retailer tailor product information a little bit differently on Pinterest versus, say, Tik Tok to enhance user experience?
Lori: Excellent, excellent question. So, if you think about it, Pinterest is still pictures, predominantly. There are certain attributes about those products that Pinterest experts care about. We automatically convert the data about the product so that it’s Pinterest friendly.
If you’re on Tik Tok, it’s a short video, right? So, if we’re looking at a particular product, let’s say we are selling our nametags, for example. You want to have a short video clip. And we pull that out of our database and make sure that for Tik Tok, we put that product friendly, quick video on along with the appropriate content for Tik Tok.
Mike: That’s really, really interesting. It seems like most of the clients, as we were talking about earlier, they’re retailers. They’re a specific sort of retailer that needs simplicity, whether it’s the number of SKUs, the complexity of the products that they’re showing, etc. This simplifies all that for them.
Lori: Exactly. When you think about it, retail grew up in brick-and-mortar. Then e-commerce grew up in its own silo, if you will, and the technology grew up the same. We are very focused on making sure that we are the technology that combines e-comm, other various digital channels, as well as brick and mortar in a true omnichannel platform.
With that, our focus right now is getting all that product data just right so that we can syndicate it out to the many different places it needs to go. I mean, you were talking to someone earlier about having the ability to buy something from their car. That’s another example where we would be in the background powering all that so the consumer can just say, “Hey, where’s the nearest Neiman Marcus?” for example, “I’d like to buy this handbag that I saw on the site that’s being advertised by Coach brands.” We need special content there, because it’s voice activated.
The point of all this is that Digital Wave sits behind all of that. We power all of that critical product content to tell the story wherever that consumer goes to shop.
Mike: Right. Are you seeing higher conversion rates from different channels, once this technology is put in place?
Lori: Higher conversion rates, yes. We’re seeing lower returns as well, because we have a lot about the product that we put on to the various channels so that you have more information about the product. You don’t have as many returns because we can get the sizing much more precise, for example, with our explanations online.
The third thing that we see a lot of is, as I mentioned, speed to market. We’re able to get retailers’ and brands’ products online and selling much faster than in the traditional way of having to enter all that data into an e-commerce site.
Mike: So, as you’re looking ahead to the future, and we talked a little bit about Web3 and the metaverse, how does that change your approach to digital commerce?
Lori: It’s a great question. We’re so excited about what’s happening with Web3 and where that will go in the next 10 years. As a software as a service company, our whole focus is on building that right platform for retailers and brands to be able to get product content out right now. That’s our first step. Then getting all of the customer content, as well, locations, etc. That master data management that Digital Wave has, and then being able to propel that into many different other applications that retailers and brands need in modern technology that’s coming and that’s here now. That is what’s going to be able to propel them into that next era for Web3.
Mike: That’s a really interesting point you made. The other thing about Web3 that’s interesting is the selling of digital assets. A lot of that stuff is very confusing for a lot of people that are just kind of getting to know it. Is there a sort of implication for how Digital Wave can bridge that gap between the physical and virtual goods?
Lori: That’s a great question. You know, when we look at the metaverse and NFTs and what’s happening there, it’s all about additional product information or content, like product attributes. Right now, while the metaverse may be a few years out, I know some people are experimenting with it today. Others say no, it’s coming in the next couple of years. Some say it’ll be a decade away, who knows.
But NFTs are here. All of that is just more product data. We’re the product data, content, and storage vehicle to make sure that when we connect into the metaverse and into the virtual world, we have all the content about the product that those the folks on the virtual side can see as well. The content for a virtual product may be very different, and the images may be very different than in the physical world.
Mike: Right. So, if there are retailers watching this live video or watching it later, what would you say to a retailer that’s not utilizing this technology? What would you say to a retailer that’s thinking about implementing this technology? What does it do for them that the typical platform doesn’t do?
Lori: We call it Product Experience Management (PXM). It’s Product Information Management (PIM) plus all the video content, digital asset content, etc. The way most retailers and brands get started with us is they say, “We just need to connect our ERP to our e-commerce system so that we don’t have to re-enter all that data,” which, by the way, lives in two different places.
We pull all the data from all the retailers’ internal systems. We then house all that data, and then we publish it out to wherever they need it. When you think about it, it is true digital transformation. We start small, but the idea is that 10 years from now we want to be the ones that are powering everything in the metaverse for our customers who are retailers and brands, and we want to be powering everything in their back office.
Mike: That’s a really interesting thing that you bring up–this idea of this platform as being almost the next wave of ERP systems.
Lori: That’s exactly right. From my perspective, and when I look at our team, ERP grew up in one stovepipe, if you will, then e-commerce grew up in a different one. And now, with the way that technology is working now with APIs and micro services and so forth, we want to be that ERP platform and have the power on top of it in the future that’s going to power all of the various content across these digital waves. That’s why we’re called Digital Wave Technology.