CMO Talks with Tulip VP Marketing Pouneh Hanafi

Pouneh Hanafi

Canada’s retail sector is undergoing transformation. During a recent CMO Talks podcast with ITWC President and CEO Fawn Annan, Tulip VP Marketing Pouneh Hanafi discussed the power of data and personalization in retail, and the biggest opportunities in iOS mobile applications over the next few years.

In 2013, when Hanafi’s company, Tulip, was founded, people were debating whether brick-and-mortar stores were relevant in the retail ecosystem. Tulip CEO Ali Asaria insisted they were still relevant but the customer experience had to change in order to address the needs of the modern consumer.

“Customers had access to data, which put store associates at a disadvantage,” said Hanafi. Customers walking into a store knew more than the person serving them. Associates were unable to offer a personalized and curated experience.”

This is the world into which Tulip, a maker of mobile apps for store associates, was born. “But our vision is to power the connected store through technology.”

Hanafi spoke about retail’s tendency to lag when it comes to investing in and adopting new technologies, especially when it comes to stores. In the past, she said, a store associate would have captured customer data in a physical black book, and phoned “VIP customers” to tell them about some new product or promotion. But now the experience has been completely digitized.

“So services that companies were only able to offer to one per cent of their VIP customers now can be extended to 10 or 20 per cent. And we’re finding that the consumer path to purchase is no longer linear.”

This is where apps like those Tulip produce come in. These apps, said Hanafi, give retailers a holistic, 360 view of customers. “Associates can see what customers’ preferences are, what they’ve purchased. And with this knowledge, associates can give better service and create a more meaningful experience.”

But for Hanafi it doesn’t end there. She predicts huge opportunities in iOS mobile applications over the next few years. As customers are looking for more and more personalized experiences, we’re going to see such technologies as live chat and video chat evolve over the next number of years. We’re also going to see smart mirrors, AR and VR experiences — and much of it through the use of mobile apps.

“People are now, after the pandemic, more comfortable with technology, and retailers are going to be investing in new technologies to really enhance their customer experience across the connection touchpoints.”

CMO Digital

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