Expert Interview with Neal Applefeld on Digital Commerce

The way in which we purchase goods and services is changing dramatically. Sure, we still flip through the clothing racks at the local malls, but we also get email alerts about sales at our favorite stores, and browse for summer dresses on our phone while sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office.

If businesses want to keep up with their increasingly mobile costumers, they'll need to evolve to work with digital, says Neal Applefeld, CEO of SeeMore Interactive. This means helping consumers navigate the store, enabling them to track items for re-engagement after their visit to the store and finding out-of-stock or additional product recommendations.

"Retail is still a sensory experience, but it can be extended both in-store and at-home with new mobile technology," he adds. "One way we are helping is by working with a leading retail design or visual merchandising company to help show their clients how the store can become digital."

At SeeMore Interactive, Applefeld and his team are working with product and brands to re-imagine the consumer shopping experience and usher them into the digital era. Here, he shares how they're doing this, what retailers can be doing better and the innovations and trends that excite him most in the realm of mobile commerce.

Tell us about SeeMore Interactive...what services do you offer?

SeeMore is a next generation mobile engagement and commerce company. We developed a platform for iOS and Android devices that lets consumers interact with the world around them simply by downloading the app and then hovering the phone over a catalog image, product or store graphic.

Once detected, our cloud service brings up personalized product recommendations and offers that you can track in your "Personal Cloud Closet" and buy directly from your phone.

Who should be using them?

Our technology is ideal for products and services brands. It's a great way for retailers to bridge the physical and digital world and ideal for service businesses that want to create more engaging and dynamic experiences and enable consumers to activate programs with simple form and call center integration. Because we are data-centric, we can help brands learn more about their customers and make their marketing and lead generation efforts deliver more effective results.

What sets you apart from other eCommerce service providers?

We are one of a few companies that integrate cutting-edge computer vision technologies and back-end database services. As a result, we can deliver personalized content, including offers and recommendations that are shoppable from a really slick app-based experience.

With the advent of mobile technology, more and more consumers are carrying a world of retail right in their pockets. What are some new trends and/or innovations that are helping business owners better capture sales in a mobile world?

Great question. What excites us is the ability for shoppers to have an Omni-channel experience. Here is a great day in the life of the new mobile shopper: A direct mail piece arrives at home, and a simple scan brings up an interactive offer and call button to activate a new service.

Your favorite furniture catalog arrives and can be shopped right from your tablet with items that pop out of the page so you can experience how they look in your room with recommendations for decorating.

On your way to the mall, a notification reminds you that you scanned an offer that expires today and provides directions to the store that's only one mile away, and when you get home, you check out your digital closet to see new recommended pairings for the shirt you bought last week, including a wishlist you received from your friends with links to buy.

With SeeMore and our image and sensor platform, all of this now exists.

What should retailers be doing to create a seamless shopping experience between these two worlds?

We are biased, but we think solution platforms like SeeMore Interactive can help bridge the divide. We think direct marketing, digital and brick-and-mortar are all part of the user experience. They don't need to compete, but retailers should be aware that their shoppers enjoy the mobile experience. Don't fight it, enable it.

What features have consumers come to expect when shopping online?

Easy navigation, product recommendations and reviews are key. We are still seeing websites that are not mobile enabled, so there is catch-up taking place.

What are the most common mistakes you see retailers making when it comes to mobile commerce?

Many are still catching up, and others are trying to build everything themselves. They want to control the brand experience, but the consumer wants to experience the brand anytime, anywhere. Mobile needs to deliver engagement and conversion.

What do you think is the future of eCommerce? What innovations excite you the most?

Personalization and accessibility will be key. Data plays such a big part of this. When content can be tailored to the consumer, it becomes much more meaningful. Hardware also plays a role, so we will see a greater shift of purchasing on mobile (phones and tablets), but also wearables and the Internet of Things. Content will be delivered based on who we are, where we are past purchases and what we are doing. It's going to be wild!

These days it seems that more and more retailers are developing shopping apps. Which ones are your least favorite? What are they doing wrong?

Any app that just tries to mirror the web experience. Mobile enables so much more. It's with us all the time, so we should leverage the key features of the camera and cloud to make a more dynamic, relevant experience.

Follow SeeMore Interactive on FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn and Pinterest.