How Trell is Using Technology To Dominate Social Commerce7 min readReading Time: 5 minutes
We recently had the opportunity to host Pulkit Agrawal, CEO and co-founder of Trell on The AI-Native Podcast by Blox.ai. Launched in 2017, Trell is India’s largest lifestyle commerce application. Today, Trell is on a mission to curate meaningful experiences for the users, content creators, and brands in their ecosystem. They do this by maintaining a laser-sharp focus on their needs and constantly delivering on them through their best-in-class technology.
Here is what we learned from the podcast:
A.I. should not be looked at in isolation
“We see it as a part of something which delivers a holistic experience to the end consumer,” says Agrawal.
With more users coming online for the first time every day, there is a plethora of data that is exchanged with various ecosystems. This typically involves data around each user’s preferences and interests. In order to deliver the most value, platforms need to be able to accurately process that data, identify patterns and use it to inform decisions and curate meaningful experiences for all the stakeholders involved. “Whoever leverages the capabilities of A.I./ML to deliver the best user experience is going to win,” says Agrawal.
A.I. can reduce user churn
“There’s a lot of science and art that goes into building user retention,” says Agrawal, “Fundamentally the process is to understand the interests of a user that is coming onto your platform through data. Then, matching it with your ML algorithms, and being able to show them what they’re really looking for.”
According to Agrawal, the platform has a dedicated team that only works on preventing user churn. The team curates over 100 robust data sets for each individual visitor on the platform to profile them thoroughly and accurately. This includes understanding factors like the user’s age group, gender, geography, device, content preferences, and much more. Then, Trell uses A.I. to matchmake the right content and influencer with the right user. This ensures that their users are constantly able to see more of what they like.
“Our aim is to be able to identify what kind of creator appeals to what kind of audience and enable that matchmaking so that they can follow their content over a long period of time,” says Agrawal, “All of that is done through the profiling of everyone and establishing ML algorithms in between.”
Vernacular plays a major role in making an audience feel comfortable and express themselves freely
When 99% of Indians go online, they struggle to find meaningful content in a language they’re comfortable in. This makes for a very poor experience.
Being a vernacular-first platform, Trell ensures that it doesn’t limit its users to a specific language. “When a user first comes on Trell, we ask them what language they prefer. And connect them with that audience as a micro-community,” says Agrawal. Then, based on the user’s engagement with certain kinds of content, the platform infers other languages that the user might be comfortable with and personalizes their feed to include content from those as well. “We don’t restrict them to consume content only from one language,” says Pulkit, “On the basis of the engagement, we enable more languages which they might be speaking.”
Brands can make influencer marketing more effective with A.I.
Influencers or Key Opinion Leaders have established strong followings over a large period of time. They have also gained the trust of their audience by authentically creating content around topics that matter to them. Consumers recognize this and rely on them to make better choices around their lifestyles.
“They know something about their interest in a particular topic, like fashion, very deeply as compared to anybody else,” says Agrawal. For brands looking to improve their reach, strategic partnerships with the right influencers go a long way. They can help build awareness and trust with their audience. “It leads to word of mouth.”
However, there’s more to this. In order to maximize the potential of influencer marketing, brands need to partner with the right influencers. This means, their profiles must be best suited to make a product more discoverable amongst the right audience. Trell uses A.I. to match the right brands with the right influencers, and the right consumers with the right influencers. This ensures discoverability until the farthest corners of the country. “We have built a system to enable brands to get distribution,” says Agrawal, “Our algorithms matchmake the right influencer with the right person and the right brand.”
There is no single product or fit for all
“India is a very heterogeneous market,” says Agrawal. Consumers care about the products they’re buying in the context of themselves. Whether it’s skincare, food products, or tea, consumption is highly localized and contextualized. Thus, it is important to note that their recommendations too need to be personalized to their needs and preferences.
Going forward, recommendations will be tailored, not just based on a person’s location but their intent during that session as well. And consumers today have come to expect this.
Agrawal predicts that in the near future, there will be an influx of brands that cater to the needs of a niche audience. They will also be able to scale substantially because of their focused and personalized offerings. “You cannot have one product, one fit for all. We’ve had to live with it in the past because there were limited opportunities and limited brands. But going ahead – with influencer-led education – consumers will be able to make more empowered choices about what they want to spend on”.
Let your users lead your tech strategy
“We never cared about Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest being there in the ecosystem,” says Agrawal.
Trell was unique from the very beginning. The team was hyper-focused on building a vernacular social platform – unlike the other competitors in the market. This played to their advantage. Trell was able to build a flourishing ecosystem with over 50M monthly active users and 18M content creators across the country. This eventually sparked interest from brands that were exploring alternate ways to reach and engage with their audience. Thus, the idea of a ‘digital society’ – and consequently, the pivot to social commerce was born, says Agarwal. “We imagined Trell as a digital society where people come, interact to exchange meaningful content to make better choices in life.”
The team maintained a laser-sharp focus on the consumers and allowed them to determine the direction of Trell’s business and technology strategies. “As long as we focus on our consumers, understand their needs, and keep innovating based on that, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, we will be able to find our way.”