SXSW 2018 Sets the Blueprint for Customer Engagement in the City of the Future

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Very few events manage to bring together such a vast array of content like Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW). With its emphasis on music, film, and technology, it can sometimes feel challenging to find a common thread that brings together its diversified audiences.

This year the festival launched a convergence program called “Cities Summit” to drive meaningful discussions about the future of our cities— a theme that resonated with many attendees. A number of sessions were dedicated to the topic of ‘smart cities’, with representatives from administrations, businesses, and non-profits discussing how technological advancements can improve our day-to-day lives and debating the right balance between regulation and entrepreneurship.

SXSW people on scooters
        Austin, last week: a family on Segway scooters rushes to visit the statue of Willy Nelson

Technology is the blueprint for the next Renaissance

A similar convergence on the theme of the city occurred in the fifteenth century during the Italian Renaissance, when the invention of perspective in the figurative arts inspired a reflection on how to organize urban space and rationalize how citizens could consume it.

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        The Ideal City of Urbino, a Renaissance painting formerly attributed to Piero della Francesca

Today, the pivotal role of perspective is played by a number of technologies that represent an opportunity for an evolutionary leap in the way we experience the cities we live in. Years from now, this could be remembered as a renaissance of exponentially greater velocity.

5G networks are pushing the boundaries of the connectivity that will sustain innovations soon to inhabit urban areas. Connected and autonomous vehicles will be revolutionizing how we move across the cities of the future, and together with the growing rideshare economy, reshape the urban mobility ecosystem.

woman AR museum

Augmented and virtual reality will allow urban spaces to enrich their tourism offerings by simulating far away environments: a VR demo gave me access to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. while in Austin last week. Voice assistants will have a major impact on the urban soundscape of tomorrow, while facial recognition technologies are being developed to improve the security of communal spaces such as stadiums and arenas.

Is commerce keeping up with the technologies that will shape the future? And is it capable to sustain the thriving economy any Renaissance-like movement needs to truly make an impact?

Going beyond analog consumerism

Unfortunately, most brands’ digital commerce platforms are still being informed by an obsolete paradigm. In what is very much a digitized equivalent of the traditional catalogue-based engagement model, consumers are still being forced into brand-centric conversion funnels and into interactions with products and services that are still highly prescriptive.

In other words, despite the use of digital systems, most of the commerce relationships taking place today are reflecting an ‘analog’ construct of consumerism. These relationships disregard how customer expectations are being constantly reshaped by the experiences offered by market leaders.

However, Accenture Interactive’s SXSW 2018 showcase ‘The New Adaptive Commerce Experience’ offered a glimpse of how commerce is evolving within ecosystems that are taking full advantage of the underlying technologies that drive the interactions between customers and brands that are pushing the envelope of engagement. In the context of a connected ski resort use-case, Accenture Interactive articulated how geolocation, beacons, cognitive engines, and API-based commerce applications that support embedded and ubiquitous access to transactional services can participate in creating and monetizing predictive and contextual interactions with customers.

Frictionless and seamless transactions are going to become the new norm, and will be a requirement for brands to be able to offer the fluid relationships consumers are craving.

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Lateral thinking is driving enterprise innovation

The showcase was received enthusiastically by enterprise brands across a number of verticals wanting to re-imagine their industries. Even when extrapolated from a travel and hospitality use-case, the notion of evolving beyond analog consumerism and establishing fluid relationships between customers and their products and services resonated across the board.

Furthermore, leading brands are seemingly keen to disrupt the boundaries that envelop their traditionally siloed business ecosystems. For instance, automotive manufacturers are looking at IoT technologies to eliminate friction in the selling and scheduling of service repairs, parts, and accessories. Insurance providers are exploring partnerships to take advantage of connected cars’ contextual data. Pharmaceutical companies are interested in going beyond their partnerships with retailers. Leveraging data on dietary habits can enable them to drive highly targeted campaigns to ensure their products are adopted instead of no-name medications.

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This type of lateral thinking is indicative of enterprises’ readiness for change. As Doug Stephens wrote, making comparisons within one’s own industry is no longer a viable approach to stay relevant. “Consumers are benchmarking their experiences laterally, and retailers must benchmark their performance accordingly.”[1]

After all, SXSW’s diverse agenda reminds us that one thing is guaranteed to remain the same in the city of the future: regardless of industry, everyone will be competing to monetize customers’ engagement, and their attention will be more and more precious by the minute. More than ever, enabling the seamless monetization of moments of truth in fluid relationships with customers is an imperative for brands to secure their place in this new future.

Commerce is evolving, are you ready to adapt? For brands and organizations looking to innovate and push the boundaries of digital transformation and customer engagement, learn more at


[1] Doug Stephens, ReEngineering Retail. The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World. p. 245

The post SXSW 2018 Sets the Blueprint for Customer Engagement in the City of the Future appeared first on Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog.



A Smarter Approach to Link-Building: Earn Links Instead of Building Them

Exceptionally strong content can help you fulfill many goals at once: increasing website traffic, earning backlinks, and reducing bounce rate. Here’s how to create that type of content. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

How To Avoid Blogging Blarney: 17 Ways To Change Your Blog

Blogging Blarney

Do you believe the blogging blarney you hear? Not sure how to improve your blog to compete in a content saturated market? We smash 17 pieces of blogging blarney and show you how to fix them to achieve blogging success.

The post How To Avoid Blogging Blarney: 17 Ways To Change Your Blog appeared first on Heidi Cohen.


Putting you on the Path: Data privacy, the GDPR, and Elastic Path

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Your online activities generate data that is collected, stored, and shared. Shopping online, interacting with social media, installing mobile apps – all these actions leave a trail of data in your wake. Depending on where you live, these practices have remained largely unregulated – until now.

Starting May 25th, all businesses that engage with European citizens must adhere to new data privacy practices in Europe. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will replace the European Union’s previous data directive governing consumer data collection, storage, and usage, and aims to give consumers more protection and greater control over their personal data. One misconception about the GDPR is that it only impacts the 28 European Union countries. The regulation’s reach extends not only to European countries, but also to countries outside the EU hoping to transact with European consumers.

So, what’s the big deal?

Under the GDPR, potentially crippling fines – up to €20 million or 4% of global revenues, depending on what’s greater – will be levied against businesses that fail to comply with the new law. While all companies are vulnerable, those with poor data-protection practices or those that incur data breaches due to their own negligence are particularly exposed.

The GDPR will have sweeping implications around the world, and Europe isn’t the only geography bolstering data protection laws. Canada and Australia are in the process of revamping their privacy rules, too, with other countries following suit. More than two-thirds of US companies believe the new laws will force them to rethink their strategies in Europe – and 85% expect European companies will be better equipped to address the regulations and, as a result, will wield a competitive advantage.

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A consumer bill of rights

Think of the GDPR as a kind of consumer bill of rights governing data use. Under it, consumers have a variety of rights:

  • They must be able to access their personal data, know what is being collected and used by companies, and why.
  • Consumers “own” their information. Data accumulated on a consumer cannot be sold to third parties.
  • Companies must protect an individual’s IP address or cookie data with the same rigor as a name, address, and Social Security number.
  • Consumers have the right to request that their data be transferred to another business.
  • They may demand that any personal data be erased at any time from companies and third-parties.
  • Companies must create new systems that put privacy first – not as an afterthought. Companies will be allowed to collect, store, and process information only if it is verifiably necessary.
  • Mandatory data breach notifications must be sent to individuals within 72 hours, including any event that risks the rights and freedoms of individuals.


man holding consumer protection sign

As the GDPR creates inescapable global implications, most companies around the world are reworking their privacy policies and implementing consent practices. According to a PwC survey, 77% of U.S., companies plan to allocate $1 million or more on readiness and compliance efforts – with 68% saying they will invest between $1 million and $10 million and 9% expecting to spend over $10 million on GDPR compliance.

With draconian fines a real possibility, this investment looks almost economical. And, keep in mind, fines are only part of the potential damage done by failure to comply. Loss of consumer trust and loyalty can be even more devastating even for companies that do not need to be GDPR compliant. According to a survey by OnePoll, “86.55 percent of 2,000 respondents stated that they were “not at all likely” or “not very likely” to do business with an organization that had suffered a data breach involving credit or debit card details.”

enabling compliance image

Enabling compliance: Elastic Path Commerce

Elastic Path has developed groundbreaking, business user-friendly tools that enable you to configure, manage and enforce your data policies. Elastic Path Commerce’s capabilities aim to support customer rights while maintaining your ability to seamlessly run your business.

Our technology enables you to capture consent, manage consent, and delete a customer’s information with the click of a button – without having to rewrite any code. With streamlined tools to import and capture consent, Elastic Path Commerce also allows businesses to create pages and features to re-engage legacy shoppers in compliance with the new consent policies.

Elastic Path Commerce presents a dashboard that allows companies to create new data policies and specify what data points should be included in store-specific policies. Each data point refers to a specific piece of information about a customer, and you can even specify the retention period for each policy. You’re able to tag and sort groups of customers that data policies relate to and see lists of data policies applicable to each customer and if they’ve given their consent.

Data points include:

  • Customer or shopper profile attributes and addresses
  • Order details and addresses
  • Any personal information that continues to exist during the digital session

We’ve also built out capabilities to support customer rights:

  • Fulfill customer requests for information removal, while optionally excluding data that must be retained for legitimate reasons
  • Automatically clear data when a defined retention period is over
  • Documentation on the features and processes created to support GDPR shopper rights
  • Shopper visibility of the information retained about them via reports

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Elastic Path: your GDPR partner

With the May deadline looming, the GDPR will soon affect many businesses throughout the world. Even if your business doesn’t engage directly with European citizens, data protection reforms are on the rise in many countries. With customizable features and data policies, Elastic Path Commerce can evolve with changing data laws.

To learn more about Elastic Path Commerce or to speak with one of our GDPR compliance experts, contact

The post Putting you on the Path: Data privacy, the GDPR, and Elastic Path appeared first on Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog.


Content Saturation: How Your Content Marketing Can Succeed [Research]

Content Saturation- How your content marketing can succeed (research)

Worried that content saturation (aka: Content Shock) will hurt your content marketing results? Included are 3 reasons content saturation hurts your content marketing with charts and 3 tactics to succeed at content marketing despite content saturation.

The post Content Saturation: How Your Content Marketing Can Succeed [Research] appeared first on Heidi Cohen.