SalesTechStar Interview with Simon Yencken, CEO at Fanplayr 

Simon Yencken, CEO at Fanplayr shares a few top ecommerce best practices and upcoming trends in this quick chat with SalesTechStar:


Hi Simon we’d love to hear about your journey in tech through the years and journey to CEO at Fanplayr

I studied law and mathematics at Monash University and was interested in business science. My career started as a partner in a law firm in Australia, then after some time I was offered the opportunity to move to London and became General Counsel at Thomson Reuters. I played a role in their acquisition of TIBCO, at which I later became a senior Executive and Board Member. I have a great interest in the world of technology and over the years I have invested in a number of startup tech companies. Currently, I am the CEO and co-founder of Fanplayr. Fanplayr’s Personal Commerce Platform is a leading customer experience personalization platform. Fanplayr’s service scales personalized online interactions between a business and their customers by leveraging behavioral data to enable superior customer engagement.

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How have you seen ecommerce trends evolve during this Covid-19 pandemic (globally)?

The ecommerce market has been constantly growing over the last few years. But the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced a step change in user behavior globally where significantly more transactions started to happen online. Whilst the pandemic facilitated this growth, we now see more companies investing in their online presence and utilizing personalized communications to their customers. Fanplayr’s AI-based technology, which anticipates user needs and thus provides a more personalized experience, is helping companies to improve their online performance and contributing to the growth of this market.

In what ways do you feel marketers and salespeople need to focus on the untapped ecommerce user base in better ways? A few best practices for using behavioral data to do this. 

In some ways, online consumer behavior is similar to traditional shopping behavior. People love places and platforms that help them find the best deals and products in a single place with the least amount of effort. The opportunity therefore, is to understand what online user behavior tells us about shoppers’ intentions, and by anticipating those intentions we can provide a more personalized online experience that increases engagement, customer satisfaction and loyalty. Amazon has done this very well and there is definitely a significant opportunity for other businesses to increase the performance of their online platforms by being more personal, relevant and responsive. 

What are some of the top ecommerce (technology wise and user wise) predictions or trends you’d like to highlight?

The second half of 2021 and early 2022 will be a transition period when business and lives start getting back to normal. Looking at the past, after the Spanish Flu pandemic, the world emerged into a period of strong growth and confidence that we called ‘The Roaring Twenties.’ More recently if we look at China and Australia post-containment of the COVID-19 pandemic consumer spending surged. We can expect a period of strong growth driven by consumer optimism. However, online businesses who hope to retain existing online volumes post-COVID will be disappointed as the pandemic induced online shopping necessity recedes. During this period, businesses will have the most to gain by investing in online personalization and optimization. 

The proportion of online commerce that is represented by smart phones will continue to increase, probably at an accelerating rate. Many online sites present a sub-optimal experience on mobile devices. Those businesses that invest well in ecommerce for smartphones and in apps, will gain an advantage. This is an important area where personalization and AI can make the consumer mobile shopping experience better leading to improved business performance. 

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A few ways in which you feel ecommerce providers still need to improve the user engagement and buying journey?

The areas that consistently need more attention to improve the online shopping experience are:

  • Poor shopping experience on mobile, which is exacerbated by the small real estate that is available on many smartphones. Mobile conversion rates are still much lower than for desktops, so this needs to be prioritized. 
  • Checkout and payment needs to be made easy and streamlined. Retailers should use services such as checkout with Google, Amazon Pay, etc. to make it much easier to complete the process. No one wants to enter tedious amounts of data every time they go shopping. 
  • Free shipping should be almost universally available (or at least above a set dollar amount). Consumers now expect this. 

How according to you will the future of ecommerce technologies change the ways in which shoppers and providers interact with each other (only mobile, etc.)?

According to McKinsey: “The COVID-19 crisis has created an imperative for companies to reconfigure their operations—and an opportunity to transform them. To the extent that they do so, greater productivity will follow.” “The near-term challenge, then, is to move from reacting to the crisis to building and institutionalizing what has been done well so far. For consumer industries, and particularly for retail, that could mean improving digital and omnichannel business models.” 

Thus, ongoing improvement in the retail digital experience post-COVID will continue to move much of the consumer / retailer dialogue to tech-enabled AI and chatbot channels. Those experiences need to be constantly optimized to provide the best most personal experience to truly be successful. That is an area where technology like Fanplayr definitely helps. 

A few thoughts on what you feel today’s leaders in the tech market need to do to align their sales and marketing and customer experience and ensure better business success?

According to Forrester, many businesses have technology to understand the buyer journey, but few of them use those services to build and define their customer strategy. Going forward in 2021 and beyond, sales leaders will need to be more involved in facilitating their buyers’ journeys, understanding buyers’ likely behaviour and preferences.  

Businesses that invest in technology focused on their customers’ preferences and objectives will get the best outcomes. 

Sales and marketing in technology should be brought together to focus on their customers’ desired business outcomes.  

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Fanplayr enables e-businesses by making their behavioral data actionable.

Simon Yencken, CEO at Fanplayr

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