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Emerging technologies like AI/ML, AR/VR, and data analytics are revolutionising how businesses operate, and the e-commerce sector is no exception.
“Big data and machine learning (ML) will play a major role in allowing customers to get personalised product recommendations and providing sellers with timely insights into consumer behaviour,” Deepak Sharma, chief product officer, Pepperfry, said.
Over the years, Mumbai-based Pepperfry has established itself as one of the largest furniture e-tailers in the country. Founded by former eBay executives, Pepperfry was among the first to build an e-commerce platform exclusively for furniture in India.
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“At Pepperfry, we are constantly exploring the use of emerging tech to create a better user experience for our customers.”
Sharma, in this exclusive interaction with Analytics India Magazine, discusses Pepperfry’s indulgence with big data, machine learning, AR/VR and the Metaverse.
Big data and machine learning
Today, ecommerce companies are leveraging the power of big data and machine learning to track customer behaviour and preferences, analyse sales data, and derive valuable insights to improve their business performance and drive growth.
Pepperfry is also using these technologies to monitor customer behaviour, optimise its website and mobile apps, drive targeted campaigns, and analyse revenue, among other things. “We segment customers based on their buying habits and create tailored journeys to ensure they get maximum value through their interactions with us,” said Sharma.
On the supply side, Pepperfry leverages analytics to help merchant partners maximise business and optimise its best-in-class big-box supply chain. “Most of the data is used to ensure we make the right decisions around procurements and deliver items pan India in the most efficient manner.”
Further, Pepperfry also leverages AI/ML capabilities to personalise its product recommendations across multiple use cases for each consumer so they can get where they need to be much faster. “We also use ML for optimising our supply chain and logistics network to make sure the orders are delivered on time and with maximum efficiency.
“On the payments front, we use it for fraud detection, ensuring that only genuine transactions are facilitated on our platform, for marketing automation purposes, and other areas of the business like product placements, and pricing optimisation etc,” he said.
AR/VR in the game
E-Commerce companies use AR/VR technologies to provide virtual product demonstrations, along with creating virtual stores, events as well as showrooms. Pepperfry is also using augmented reality to let shoppers virtually preview furniture in their homes before they purchase it and engage them in visual stories and content.
“We decided early to commit to elevating this home shopping experience by introducing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology helping move the information from 2D to 3D,” Sharma said.
Explaining further, he said, “With AR within our mobile app, customers can explore hundreds of products available on Pepperfry in 3D to help them visualise how different designs and styles look when placed in their own homes. VR gives customers the opportunity to virtually walk around a digital version of their favourite Pepperfry studio and explore the latest collections before making a purchase. There are plans to experiment with VR-only studios.”
Pepperfry’s recommendation system
Sharma believes purchases are inherently discovery-led. This effectively means consumers construct their own understanding and knowledge of products through visual experiences and then reflect on those experiences in the broader sense of their personal considerations.
“Markers such as brands that are prominent in other categories don’t hold a similar sway here. This can make furniture and home shopping a bit overwhelming and difficult at times.
“To solve this problem, we’ve implemented a product recommendation system to make it easier for our customers to access and identify products that satiate their aesthetic and commercial requirements. Naturally, this is a consistent work in progress where we are constantly updating our models with more and more variables such as trends, location affinity, etc,” he added.
What about the Metaverse?
Even though the metaverse is in a very nascent stage, multiple brands have already launched their products on the metaverse. However, Sharma said that the immediate plan is to wait and watch the adoption of the platform in India before going full steam ahead.
“The metaverse is a fascinating concept, and definitely something is on the cards at Pepperfry. We’re looking into how our products can be seamlessly integrated into the metaverse, as it could provide a truly immersive shopping experience for our customers from the comfort of their homes.
“We are currently researching the possibilities and opportunities this technology could bring to our brand,” Sharma concluded.