TechBytes with Roland Gossage, CEO, GroupBy

Roland Gossage, CEO, GroupBy

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at GroupBy.

At GroupBy Inc., I work with a highly motivated team of technology minds to transform the way retailers interact with their consumers online through data-driven commerce, media and knowledge management software solutions. We are a company rooted in doing things differently – removing the technology burden from retailers, developing best-in-breed solutions across the entire consumer journey and creating a new engagement model between retailers and their solution provider. As a team, we strive to create the world’s most highly converting site experience while using fewer people and infrastructure. As CEO, I am responsible for providing leadership and coordination of company sales and operations. My responsibilities range from establishing and implementing short and long-range goals and objectives to operational activities such as recommending and administering policies and procedures that enhance our vision for the future of retail.

How much has the Retail industry landscape evolved in the last two years?

In the last two years, the retail industry landscape has evolved with the growth of groundbreaking technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning that power data enrichment, advanced search capabilities and personalization. The emergence of personalized ads on social media platforms and advanced technology made to understand individuals’ preferences have led consumers to expect more from retailers and brands. In the midst of store closures for big name brands, retailers that equip themselves with the latest tools to support creating individualized experiences for customers have come out on top.

How do you see the pace of evolution of the retail industry further accelerating with adoption of AI, Machine Learning and Computer Vision?

The adoption of these technologies is revolutionizing how retail companies interact with customers. For instance, artificial intelligence is becoming less of a standout feature and more of a critical digital component for retailers’ eCommerce offerings.  As this technology becomes more prevalent among brands and retailers, AI will serve as a tool to supercharge the customer experience, rather than a technology that replaces humans. Machine learning technology is another industry-accelerating solution that will improve customer experiences online by providing intelligent search capabilities, navigation and landing pages. The common theme here is the push toward digital tools is impacting consumer expectations, which will only speed up the pace of advancement and evolution for retailers who want to deliver on those expectations.

What is the state of Image processing technology in Marketing, Sales and Advertising?

Image processing technologies, like image search, are slowly beginning to be adopted in eCommerce. We have seen early proof of concept and ‘beta’ testing with customers in the apparel and jewelry markets so far, but other markets are sure to jump in as the technology becomes more accurate, robust and relevant to consumers.

Image search fulfills the desire for individualization, allowing consumers to upload a picture of any product they like such as a ring, blouse or dress and quickly find a retailer quickly who carries the identical product or offers similar products, either by brand, style or design. As image search becomes more prevalent, we see this being fully integrated as part of the over-all eCommerce experience in the near future.

How does GroupBy help to digitize Customer journeys? How are consumer behaviours evolving across online and offline touchpoints?

As eCommerce continues to grow, a digitized customer journey is essential. At GroupBy, we offer a suite of solutions to help enhance every customer’s journey, whether they’re shopping for groceries, office supplies, beauty products or a variety of other items. From providing better findability and eliminating incomplete or incorrect product data across a site to suggesting more thoughtful recommendations by monitoring every action taken on the website, we ensure customers have a digital experience that goes above and beyond.

Consumer behaviors are evolving across both online and offline touchpoints in the sense that they are becoming more reliant on the retailer to provide assistance. A more seamless search process, an easier way to purchase goods habitually and the desire to have custom-tailored recommendations readily available are all indicators of the modern-day shopper, regardless of whether they’re completing their journey online or in a brick and mortar store.

Which businesses have been the fastest to adopt Computer Vision, IoT and image processing technologies?

The businesses that have adopted these technologies the fastest are those in which products are easily identified by images. Retailers in industries such as apparel and jewelry can use the image of a product a customer uploads to offer a similar product that the retailer has in stock to secure the sale. Businesses selling more obscure products can’t take full advantage of these tech-based solutions just yet, but will be able to in the future as the technology becomes more advanced.

How does Computer Vision unlock opportunities in the Mobile-driven Retail markets?

Computer vision allows computers to take on the characteristics of human interaction. Following suit, this technology that imparts human intelligence and instincts to a computer unlocks opportunities for growth and development across digital platforms by increasing speed, customization and knowledge about products. Within eCommerce, the increasing use of smartphones is making mobile shopping more prevalent. For mobile-driven retail markets specifically, a phone’s ability to recognize objects can be used to enhance shopping experiences. For example, shoppers can to take a picture of a pair of shoes and receive suggestions for matching products at certain retail outlets, lessening the complications associated with assembling an outfit for a special event. As consumers continue to shop online and use mobile as a platform to do so, utilizing computer vision to provide advanced search and personalization in real time helps make it easier for customers to shop from their phones.

Compared to the Americas, how do you see the markets in EMEA and APAC dealing with the disruptions in Digital Retail landscape?

Compared to North America, EMEA and APAC are a little behind in dealing with the disruptions in Digital Retail Landscape. With so much competition, the retailers in these areas tend to be very cautious, leading them to pursue smaller projects to validate and test new technologies. Planning for the worst case scenarios are key to their future.

What are your predictions on the role of AI, Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation for retail?

In the coming years, technologies such as AI, machine learning and robotic process automation will become less of a futuristic concept in retail and more of a crucial adaptation for retailers. We already see this mindset being practiced by big name retailers as Walmart makes heavy investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning as an assumed requirement to grow its business and Amazon continues to impress customers with cashierless stores and drones that deliver up to 5-pound packages within 30 minutes in the works. Despite these tech-based millstones, human roles within retail won’t be eliminated; instead, their roles will undergo changes to become more collaborative with these technologies. As the man and the machine meet, the two will fuse together for total merchandising control.

One advice to all MarTech and AIOps professionals looking to build a career in Retail and related industries –

Technology is technology, whether retail or otherwise. My advice to all MarTech and AIOps professionals looking to build a career in retail is to invest in learning more about the technologies of the future; AI, machine learning, voice commerce and big data are impactful technologies no matter what industry. As a result, these will be the keys retailers need to retain loyal customers and grow their businesses. By understanding what’s to come, technology professionals in the retail industry can subsequently identify ways to use these tools to transform shopping experiences and keep customers coming back for more.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Mr. Gossage is responsible for the overall vision, strategy, operations and development of GroupBy Inc., a leading eCommerce provider. Roland is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience as a Sales, Marketing, Services, Operations and Development professional in the Enterprise Software industry. Prior to GroupBy, Roland was a Vice President at Endeca, holding many different leadership positions while there. This followed successful tenures at Cognos, Hummingbird Communications and Pure Data where he helped establish these companies in the relative markets. Prior to beginning his career in software, Mr. Gossage was a member in the Canadian Armed Forces, serving in the Armored Core for 6 years.

Groupby Logo

GROUPBY INC. is led by a group of retail technology minds who brought-to-market one of the first eCommerce site search platforms. After uncovering many of the deficiencies in the market and the challenges that retailers continued to face day after day, the team knew that there had to be a better way!

We are a company rooted in doing things differently – removing the technology burden from retailers, developing best-in-breed solutions across the entire consumer journey and creating a new engagement model between retailers and their solution provider. Everything we do, we do with purpose. And that purpose is to give each eCommerce site we touch a more superior experience than it had the day before.

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