Staying Relevant With Gen Z is the Key: A Conversation with Lenovo.com’s VP of eCommerce, Ajit Sivadasan

How a huge company became a leader in the world of eCommerce

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Back in 2006 when Ajit Sivadasan joined the team at Lenovo, there was very little in the way of infrastructure when it came to eCommerce or online sales. But in the years since, Sivadasan has been instrumental in building that portion of the Lenovo portfolio by 10x and expanding Lenovo.com into more than 90 countries.

Sivadasan is the Vice President and General Manager of Lenovo and on a recent episode of Up Next in Commerce, he explained how Lenovo was able to become a leader in the world of eCommerce while growing from a company that only sold PCs to one that serves all sectors of the tech industry.

“[Part of my job] is really trying to figure out how to position Lenovo.com to become a brand voice, and figure out how we bring to life all of the innovation, and the products, and the enterprise strategy we have, for the stakeholders that come to Lenovo.com around the world,” Sivadasan said. “We get over a billion people coming to the website any given year. So it is a pretty substantial property. And so we have a ton of work that we need to do to manage all of those aspects that take care of basically all of the customer needs we have.”

Building that brand voice meant creating an online experience that has now grown to include more than eight million unique and dynamic web pages. And while managing that amount of sites might seem like the big job, in fact, Sivadasan says there is a much more important focus.

“You need to make sure, periodically, you look for paradigm shifts,” he said. “You need to understand demographics. 70% of the population that’s going to be in the workforce is going to be millennials. And I can tell you that they are not really interested in reading a lot of stuff. They prefer short-form formats, and they like videos and things like that. So if you’re not connecting with them, and your engagement is not right, I think you’re going to have a problem in the long run. So, I think page count is less of a problem than relevance. And I think that what we really are trying to do is to figure out how to be relevant and drive content that truly drives engagement with our audiences.”

Gen Z is will soon make up the majority of the retail market and they are the most sought-after demographic, so any eCommerce platform needs to understand their wants and needs at a visceral level. Sivadasan understands this and he is directing his team to build out content that is more relevant, bite-sized, and interesting to this audience.

“Part of the challenge is that they are so sophisticated, and are pretty much no-nonsense in terms of technology,” Sivadasan said. “It’s highly unlikely that they are going to support anything that is cumbersome, or verbose or anything that basically takes away from efficiency, in terms of how they deal with online content. And so, I think the big challenge is for companies to truly make that shift of saying, ‘Look, this was the audience in the past. They had a very different predisposition to how they looked at data, and how they analyzed things. And then there’s this new generation that truly is looking at content differently.’ Now, the key points will be when they start truly having money in their pockets, and they’re going to be in positions where they’re going to be making decisions for companies, in terms of purchasing, technology decisions. And many of them already are making those decisions. And then if you are not able to engage with them appropriately, I think that you have a challenge. So truly trying to figure out how to build that relationship with the Gen Z, millennial audience, I think is key.

Finding out those needs and wants means that Lenovo needs to gather insights about its customers, and that is a challenge that any eCommerce platform also has to face. For Lenovo, because their platform is present in so many countries, gathering and deciphering data is harder depending on where in the world your data is coming from. Regardless of how difficult it is, though, Sivadasan insists that data is the only way to discover what you need to know about the customer journey and where you can be iterating to more efficiently serve your online customer.

Sivadasan explained that he has requested as much data as possible surrounding customer satisfaction in order to figure out exactly what their customers want and like, and how they can focus on those things more.

“We have been measuring customer satisfaction for the last 13 years or so,” he said. “The biggest challenge, always is trying to figure out the correlation of what factors will drive it. I think that’s been a big controversy. So is it delivery metrics? Is it quality metrics? Is it product design? Is it the call center experience? So, I think there is a ton of data, and we have requested data to find out the top factors…. Product quality is undeniably the number one thing that the customers actually value. Hybrid customers truly value delivery. So delivery times and making sure that you’re keeping your commitment in terms of products. They definitely value help in the call center as a metric. So there’s probably a list of about 20, that we track. And the big ones really are product quality, delivery, out-of-the-box experience, those kinds of things.”

From product reviews, to surveys to social listening. Lenovo is tapping into any area where they might glean something new about its customers. There are constantly new places to leverage a product of the brand in order to help build a relationship with the customers, and those are the areas that Sivadasan sets his sights.

What will that look like? And what areas are ripe to be disrupted next? Sivadasan has some thoughts.

“I think the workforce productivity, the online education, travel as a paradigm, and how companies operate, all of that will, I think, become ripe for disruption,” he said. “So you will see, increasingly, technology solutions practices that’s going to upend a lot of the work practices, and the educational practices.”

So watch those spaces closely and keep a close eye on how Lenovo is innovating there with things like VR and A.I. because soon enough, you might find that those are ubiquitous technology that Lenovo was able to bring to market faster than anyone else.

To hear more from Ajit, listen to Up Next in Commerce here.

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