Isobar Belgium discusses Commerce with MM

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Shawn Mishra, Senior Vice-President and Global Managing Partner of Isobar Commerce, was recently in Brussels to support the Dentsu Aegis Network teams in a digital transformation project. He took the opportunity to present the latest developments at Isobar during an exhaustive presentation of the group's global strategic vision. He also agreed to answer questions from Media Marketing, along with Nicolas Vanderseypen, Managing Director of Isobar Belgium; and José Fernandez, Chief Commercial Officer of Dentsu Aegis Network Belgium.

Isobar has structured its services around all aspects of Digital Commerce. Why this strategic choice?

Shawn Mishra: "Digital commerce turnover is growing very rapidly all over the world, and this concerns all aspects of commercial communication. Digital commerce applications are reaching all markets via multiple technologies. The scope of action is unlimited: it covers both local and international levels and of course also includes global marketplaces such as Amazon or Ali Baba. Technological evolution is fast, leading to sound and voice recognition, touch and hyper-segmented visual messages, all in combination with artificial intelligence and personalisation through big data.

Isobar starts from the observation that consumers' basic needs have not changed much in recent years, but that the same cannot be said for their purchasing methods, which are changing very quickly. Sales channels are multiplying, each with specific technical requirements and requiring specific expertise. Faced with this situation, Isobar has set itself the ambition of supporting advertisers by offering them adapted solutions in the form of a step-by-step plan within the inescapable API economy."

How is digital commerce evolving on the Belgian market?

Nicolas Vanderseypen: "Sales figures are increasing very quickly. Isobar has calculated that the total global turnover of e-commerce in 2021 will be twice as high as in 2017, at $4.9 trillion. In addition, Belgium is one of the five countries where digital commerce is growing fastest. Here, 17% of retail sales are made online and no less than 75% of consumers first do an Internet search before buying a product. This consumer behavior forces brands and retailers to invest in attractive shopping sites that must be quickly and efficiently accessible both on computers and mobile phones."

What do retailers have to do to ride this wave?

Shawn Mishra: "The challenges are enormous. All advertisers are facing just about the same problems. At Isobar, we call this the "4D threat": Disintermediation, which come with the difficulty of controlling relationships with end consumers; Disruption of virtually all business models; Decommissioning or the threat of loss of differentiation and brand image; and finally, Deregulation, a phenomenon inherent to digital markets.

Digital commerce is extremely complex, and it is precisely for this reason that Isobar must focus on designing solutions adapted to all challenges, whether they are technological in nature or related to marketing techniques. We put this diversity of innovative technologies at the service of advertisers by converting intermediate steps towards their objectives into clear processes."

Don't advertisers have different digital needs?

"All our customers are different, but in the end, they all want the same thing: to initiate their digital transformation in order to achieve growth. We guarantee this growth by using the most appropriate marketing tools and techniques to achieve four concrete and progressive objectives within the reach of all marketers.

The first step is to increase digital revenue by increasing the number of sales channels and improving conversion. The second step immerses brands and their consumers in the world of virtual stores and the third step improves the omnichannel experience for consumers. Finally, the fourth step is to deploy the right technologies to accelerate product access to their market segments and reduce the costs of the many changes in the distribution chain.

The marketing techniques used in each of these phases are based on well-known notions of the DNA of traditional advertising, such as brand loyalty, customer experience and segmentation, but Isobar uses digital tools and artificial intelligence to this end according to the advertiser's needs."

Digital commerce therefore requires more investment in marketing and communication?

"To effectively mobilize all means of communication, agility is essential. That's why Isobar allows you to separate these marketing and communication tools, such as websites, newsletters and all other contact points, from the logistics component of the online store, such as the product catalogue or price lists and inventory data. With a disconnected communication platform, brands can respond much more quickly to the expectations of different market segments depending on the circumstances."

By disconnecting the tools in this way, is there not an even greater need for diversified expertise to carry out campaigns?

José Fernandez: "That's true. The added value of an agency like Isobar does not lie in the development of tools and platforms, because there will always be cheaper suppliers on this globalized market to meet such a small set of requirements. No, we are much more than just providers of technological solutions such as software, web platforms or interfaces. Our mission is to offer expertise to combine technologies to exploit them to the fullest.

The different business cases that Shawn presented to us show that the group's knowledge and experience is increasing day by day, so that the Brussels teams can count on an immense potential for solutions to the challenges they face to the extent of satisfy their customers' expectations. With 6,500 employees in 85 offices around the world, Isobar has the necessary knowledge to support all advertisers in their digital transformation. In the coming months, we want to use the right analyses to raise advertisers' awareness of the opportunities in the fast-growing market and offer them structural support to increase their market share in the API economy."

This article was originally published in Dutch and French on Media Marketing.