Future of Retail & Ecommerce

When it comes to embedding AI and machine learning into an organization, the advice of ‘don’t run before you can walk’ is worth heeding.

That’s the view of Jay Kulkarni, founder of Theorem, who believes retail and ecommerce brands – and their marketing agencies – must stop and think before rushing to imple-ment too many new technologies at once. Organisations will drown in data and fragmentation if they dive in too fast, he warns.
He acknowledges that automat-ing mundane and tactical tasks can bring efficiencies, freeing up time for more human thinking and crea-tivity. But to succeed, leaders must define their business problems and goals first and then apply technology solutions to them.

“When organisations lead with the tech, it fails because you’re not fixing a problem,” he explains.
According to Kulkarni, harnessing robotic processing and automation can achieve “more from less” at a time when budgets are tight, talent is scarce, inflation is sticky and costs and prices are rising. It can also demon-strate a measurable ROI to marketers looking to streamline workflows.
But there must be a coherent approach to infrastructure, without silos, he says, describing technology as “a commodity”.

“Based on your business objectives, you find the platform and the tools to help you achieve them. Work back-wards, what will your marketing activ-ity look like two to three years out? This is a multi-year project, continu-ally optimising as you go,” he adds.

Accept it won’t all work the first time

Kulkarni believes brands and agencies are now more comfortable experi- menting, especially with automation accessible directly from the cloud through AWS or Microsoft Azure; this makes it cost-effective.

Theorem works with global publish- ers and B2C brands to create flexible marketing solutions and its efforts to experiment internally first has helped win client confidence by demonstrat- ing tangible successes.

“We automated reporting with a 50% reduction in human labour,” Kulkarni explains. “If you are a media planner or campaign manager, you want a holistic view of data and in the past that was a very manual process.

“Now we have a set of bots download- ing campaign or client data, cleansing it and creating reports for us.”

Admitting robotic process auto- mation is not yet perfect, he cites Theorem’s approach as ‘humanising bots’, reducing 100% human involve- ment with people still on hand should a bot fail or there is data ambiguity.

“Marketing is half art and half sci- ence,” adds Kulkarni, “and automation helps with the science. The art is where we still have a pair of human eyes.”

Automating the data reporting that underpins any campaign is a low-friction way to begin this jour- ney, he advises. End-to-end campaign deployment could then come next, using machine learning alongside Salesforce integration to help plan and action insertions.

“The human element will always stay as the art of marketing, it will never go away because of the machine,” believes Kulkarni. “The trick is that balance.”

Full transparency is critical

Theorem’s own internal programme has ensured career paths for those employees displaced by automation. Kulkarni suggests clients do the same while ensuring full transparency of their actions. “If people feel insecure about automation, it will not succeed. This is an organisational challenge, not a technological one.”

There are then demonstrable upsides; saving human resources on reporting can have a huge knock-on effect on the business. For example, Kulkarni suggests time is better spent scaling brand loyalty programmes.

With the cost of acquisition for new audiences now going up significantly, the ability for a retail or ecommerce brand to cross-sell and upsell to exist- ing audiences is, according to him, “good business”.

Giving employees more time to develop and deploy ideas that build tighter rela- tionships with customers is critical at a moment when consumer spending is falling, he says. “The ability for brands to maximise loyalty programmes digitally is a lot more cost-effective. We have seen this get the highest share of volume rel- ative to acquisition of new audiences on social media.”

He adds: “Freeing up teams to think of more innovative ways to create market- ing campaigns gives them time for the art rather than the science.”

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    Meto is a tech-based nonprofit intent on making access to quality higher education a reality for all students. We have a special focus on creating scholarships for low-income students.

    In 2018, Meto was founded to connect African students with university opportunities. Along the way, we have learned that all students can benefit from our innovative model, wherein universities make the first move and invite good-fit students to apply. So, in 2023, we opened our platform to students across the globe.

    website: https://meto-intl.org/

              Nikhil Badlani Foundation

              The Mission of the Nikhil Badlani Foundation (the “Foundation”) is to enhance the lives of underserved children in West Orange, NJ and neighboring communities through music lessons, scholarships, and traffic safety education for all.

              Since the Foundation was established in 2011, Theorem has consistently been an annual sponsor of and team participant in the STOP for Nikhil 5K Run/3K Walk. This event intends to raise traffic safety awareness and to serve as a way to remembervbgfc ≈ and honor those who have been killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents. We recognize the importance of raising awareness and road safety amongst teenagers and parents alike, especially in the local communities of our Chatham, New Jersey office. Learn more about the Nikhil Badlani Foundation at nikhilbadlanifoundation.org

              Diversity and Inclusion

              Theorem actively aids in the ongoing fight against systemic racism and discrimination, realizing the importance of ongoing discussions surrounding diversity and inclusion.

              By contributing to organizations such as Black Girls Code and the Anti-Racism fund, we aim to be a fundamental supporter of diversity in the workplace and beyond. These organizations specifically speak to Theorem’s role as a leading voice in the technology innovation space and we avidly support their missions. The vision of Black Girls Code is to empower girls of color, ages 7-17 to become innovators in STEM fields and encourages them to be the builders of their own futures. The Anti-Racism Fund serves as a response to the inequities experienced by the African-American community. It provides monetary support to a dynamic portfolio of curated organizations as a way to inject and enable social change.

              Feeding America

              Feeding America is the largest charity working to end hunger in the United States. By partnering with local food banks, food pantries and other community food programs, Feeding America looks to advance change across the country and ensure equitable access to nutritious food.

              As a long-standing contributor and sponsor of Feeding America, we deeply believe in their vision of an America without hunger. The need for and importance of organizations like Feeding America has has become more and more prevalent as communities face more hardships as a result of the pandemic and the current economy. Theorem is dedicated to its continued contributions to Feeding America to do our part to empower and strengthen our communities. Learn more about Feeding America at www.feedingamerica.org

              Grameen America

              Grameen America is dedicated to helping entrepreneurial women who live in poverty build businesses to enable financial stability mobility.

              Since their founding in the United States in 2008, Theorem has supported Grameen America’s mission, which seeks to build upon the legacy of Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Gold Medal and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. Through financial contributions and event participation, Theorem has contributed to Grameen America’s cause. As an immigrant entrepreneur himself, our CEO Jay Kulkarni is especially eager to support the organization’s mission of aiding underserved communities. Learn more about Grameen America at www.grameenamerica.org

              Vision Spring

              VisionSpring is making the wonder of clear vision possible for all by helping provide affordable and quality eyeglasses to those in need. For many, lack of access to affordable eyeglasses leads to loss of employment or less educational opportunities.

              VisionSpring partners with organizations who join them in their mission of supporting livelihood initiatives, enhancing potential for all. Learn more about Vision Spring at https://visionspring.org Theorem has consistently partnered with VisionSpring to organize free events, such as eye check-ups, across multiple villages in the Mysuru, India region, impacting over 3,000 rural residents. We stand with VisionSpring in their mission to increase accessibility to quality eyewear and eye care.

              Covenant House

              Covenant House provides housing and supportive services to youth facing homelessness, helping young people transform their lives.

              For more than 5+ years, Theorem has supported Covenant House with corporate sponsorships, leading career-building workshops at their Newark, NJ shelter facility and participation in the organization’s fund raising Sleep Outs. Covenant House utilizes these Sleep Outs to raise funds and help shine a light on the injustice of youth homelessness, inspiring communities to step up and protect the vulnerable. We are proud to support Covenant House’s programs, which are designed to empower young people to overcome and rise above adversity, today and in the future. Learn more about Covenant House at www.covenanthouse.org

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