In April this year, Lenovo will move vice president and general manager of Lenovo.com Ajit Sivadasan (pictured) into a global e-commerce role to focus on the area. Marketing caught up with him ahead of the move to know more about the company’s increasing focus on digital, including e-commerce.While the brand has been in e-commerce since 2006 across 17 markets as of now, its e-commerce operations in Asia (India and Korea) are fairly new, (excluding Japan) and have only been present for the past two years.On ramping this up in Asia, Sivadasan said each market needs an entirely specific approach. And the challenges ahead are many.“The bigger problems are going to be payment processing - it is about data processing, logistics and regulatory environment issues.”Technical challenges such as catering to each market’s payment systems also abound. “In Latin America for instance, installment based payment systems are popular and that requires specific technology,” said Sivadasan. Consideration needs to be made in terms of gauging how secure consumers feel with buying online.Here’s where brand reputation plays a huge role. If consumers know the brand and trust it, this encourages their willingness to take to e-commerce with the brand, said Sivadasan.Also, for online purchasing, allowing people to take risk was important. He said in Asia, returning products after buying tends to be more difficult, and this environment needs to change in order to push e-commerce.Lenovo has also been investing heavily in social media and big data in recent years, which Sivadasan expects will push its e-commerce ambitions.It started its global centre of excellence for social media in 2011, and last year, a global analytics hub for building on the company’s big data initiative. Both are based out of Singapore.Its social media activity is a platform to interact with the customer. Coupled with big data, this allows the brand to quickly evolve its products around what customers are voicing.For example, when it was launching its Yoga tablet, it did a sentiment analysis, and found that one of the things that people did not like was that the OS was not available in Windows because it is an android device.“That’s not something that we would have usually captured, but (because of a big data focus) we were actually able to capture that and then feed it to the product development team early enough to tell them that a windows option is something that would be appreciated,” he said.“In the future, we might be able to scan the environment for variables and attributes which are alike to brand sentiment to see if what we are doing from a marketing standpoint is resonating with the audience we are trying to connect with.”“Part of the products that the teams are working on is how do we take customer data, social data, web data, and try to make meaning out of it from a brand effectiveness standpoint,” said Sivadasan, admitting that the company was still only in the early stages of experimenting with big data.
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