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HomeInterviewsCXBuzz Interview With Nareni Hourican, Head of eCommerce Partnerships at Anheuser-Busch

CXBuzz Interview With Nareni Hourican, Head of eCommerce Partnerships at Anheuser-Busch

Hi Nareni, tell us about yourself and your background and how you got to the
eRetail space?

I have always had a passion for creativity and invention that led me to study Industrial
Engineering at Universidad Panamericana before going on to receive my masters in
International Marketing at the same university. Having a strong passion in marketing and
leaving a positive lasting impact in people's day to day lives, I began my career as an eBusiness coordinator for all categories in Nestlé, overseeing all things BTL, from campaigns in mobile to digital CRMs and building web sites from scratch. Launching digital campaigns, there I learned the power of different touchpoints to be used to deliver different messages and products to create the best consumer experience you can offer.

I left Nestlé to join Coca-Cola in Mexico City where I had several roles in both Strategic planning and operations and marketing insights before my passion and curiosity for new cultures and languages allowed me to take on a number of different roles in different countries (including Germany and France) and finally allowing me to accept a role based in the Global Team in London. Working in another country full time was incredibly rewarding and I was able to get my hands on what we could do to engage with our consumers through different digital innovation touchpoints to what eCommerce was to become in Asia and Europe in the future. My roles in London really inspired me to find new ways to create paths to communicate with the market at the same time of getting ahead of the industry to foresee what the next milestone for eCommerce looked like.

After 8 or so years in London I took an opportunity to move to NYC to open a couple of startups which gave me a feel of what it means to create a compelling product from scratch and take it to market. Securing funding, working with influencers and partners gives you many learnings in loads of areas which normally is not easy to do in a big company. Having said that, the speed of the process and the energy is what I truly enjoyed and I wanted to keep for my next role so when I joined Anheuser-Busch a few years ago, it was through the incubator part of the company, ZX Ventures, in a role to develop their eRetail partnerships with all .com partners B&C and PurePlay, it was then that after a lot of providing insights, trends, potential opportunities in the market that I was able to establish formal business plans with our partners creating Omni-channel experiences through eCommerce and In-store, activating different digital capabilities and creating different innovation pilots to then amplify across the US.

The opportunity to join the ecommerce team at ZX Ventures offered the perfect balance of
strengths between a startup and a large corporation. I look after our ecommerce Partnerships across the US. Within my role, I am responsible for creating the right ecommerce, digital marketing and innovation strategy that suits each retailer, shopper type and market. In many ways, it has the feel of a startup where you are the owner and are testing and learning fast, responsible for a broad range of functions and leading an incredible team, but also with the scale and support functions of a large corporation.

Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews – How
can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?

Consumer expectations and behaviors have evolved significantly in recent years. How consumers use technology as part of their decision-making process is a big driver of that change. They are also more likely to share reviews of their experience online and with their purchases as well as making decisions based on recommendations from friends and family.

eRetailers have evolved in response to this increase in consumer demand going beyond the basics, speeding up the evolution of their user experience, targeting their messaging, creating more events, focusing on occasion-based campaigns and more.

Data and research have always been core to making decisions and informing the development for more effective campaigns, but recently we have seen more and more technologies emerging that facilitate and speed up this very important part of the process too.

A key role of any marketer and a core focus for my team is to continually evaluate changes in consumer behavior and usage and to adjust accordingly. The industry is evolving at a rapid pace which means that it is essential to remain flexible and inquisitive and also utilize data and insights to better understand how these changing patterns will affect consumption. It’s from reviews and social listening campaigns tied into performance results, that we have sourced some of our best in class sampling/recruitment campaigns, imagery and creative for future campaigns as well as applied changes to our targeting to
ensure talking to the right consumer with the right message based on their feedback.

Nareni’s checklist for good CX strategy

In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good customer experience

From my perspective, the best customer experience provides a relevant, timely
and insightful communication in the place where the customer wants to
experience it and it adds value to them. Consumers do not want to be taken
somewhere else from where they intended to consume content or shop. They are
looking for the least number of clicks possible because they want to be efficient
with their time. If you are providing an experience or an offer that is relevant,
timely and/or valuable, then you can earn the right to take up additional time.
Understanding who your shoppers are and what they are looking for at different
times, on different occasions allows you to provide the appropriate experience in
that situation.

How much has the role of customer experience changed in the social
distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?

In terms of eCommerce, there wasn’t a huge shift in terms of the customer
experience, except that it has been happening much more frequently across a far
more significant portion of the population. Individuals who never knew they could
buy beer online suddenly out of necessity became aware of the options available
to them. We saw a massive acceleration across the industry because of the
pandemic. Over a year on, we still see significantly elevated numbers as
consumers have maintained many of their new digital behaviors.

The more traditional side of businesses have had to adapt during Covid, whether
it was moving events to digital versions (i.e: concerts, online sports) or sampling
(exploring what can be done through delivery) or more. Such a sudden and
dramatic event such as Covid pushes businesses and consumers to rapidly adjust
their ways of working.

What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?

In 2020, the biggest lesson I learned was just how suddenly a global health issue
can impact everyone’s daily lives. Companies that can pivot quickly and embrace
new technologies and offerings are the ones that will be the most successful in
the long-term. I am thankful to be working in an industry that was already
preparing for the future. With Covid, we saw adoption of eCommerce accelerate
by 4-6 years (stat provided by most experts). We scaled up quickly to support the
massive uptick in eCommerce demand.

2020 was the year of webinars and online events; what was your favorite

I think all the conference teams have been doing amazing in pivoting and creating
virtual equivalents to key conferences through the year and going into 2021.

It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should Executives gear up to the changing times?

The shift to remote working happened so suddenly during the pandemic.
Thankfully, for our team, the adjustment was largely seamless. We have always
had great access to collaboration tools and we stay connected informally through
Slack. While we miss the personal in-person interactions, it is impressive how

much can still be accomplished virtually. One of the more important things has
been to balance formal online meetings with less formal interactions. These
conversations also help shape how the team works together and unearths
opportunities when different team members share challenges and opportunities.

Executives will need to be aware of the changing expectations of employees and
ensure that we are staying competitive in terms of flexibility. It will be important
to support team members to make sure they are taking time away from the
screen to avoid burnout. That said, we can accomplish incredible things even
when collaborating remotely. Open communication with team members on how
they are doing and ways to support one another can ensure long-term success
regardless of location.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

I don’t have one favorite CX metric. But I do find very important is to apply the
right metric at the right stage depending on what we are trying to achieve, this
allows brands to apply the right changes and learn best practices to create best in
class experiences for their consumers.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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