XR series Webinar: Unlocking Immersive Commerce: Virtual Try-On, Digital Transformation & more

👤 Special Guest: Roberto Croci 📅 Recorded: October 18th 🕒 Duration: 30min

XR series Webinar: Unlocking Immersive Commerce: Virtual Try-On, Digital Transformation & more


hello Roberto uh it's great to have you uh thanks so much for joining us today

really a pleasure uh so Roberto excited to have you here um I mean you had an

outstanding you know career through throughout your career you started your next uh entrepreneur a solo a Founder uh

you worked at Google for more than nine years you led my Microsoft uh and now you're at PF leading their

transformation as well so really excited first to learn more about you about your

journey uh how did you start and how did you reach where you are today uh we we

also just for the sake of introduction we have our head of product Matt with us today on on the call uh so very excited

to hear about your journey and uh and how it all started and and thank you so much Nadim

and thank you uh Matt uh again everyone apologies for for the delay I hate being

late as well you knowf we have some strict rules that we have learned with NAD on on uh platform access but um

looking forward so uh listen um I've been a long time in Tech right so I'm

very passionate about technology and how technology can impact the life of all of us um so my career started actually in

Consulting uh I I did you know that that gym that you know to to understand a

little bit how to navigate stakeholders and how to to to to deal with with with key stakeholders and companies right so

but then I had the chance to to join the funding team of of of a of a startup uh

which was a multi Channel retailer I was really um really really exciting journey in in that that that experience right so

basically we we were in The Furniture Design industry and uh we wanted to launch a a a company with a business

model similar to ukes if you if you remember UK UK they did aemg with Neta now a few years back um but basically

they were like labeling white labeling the you know the e-commerce for fashion brands in Italy in the early 2000s right

so where where at the time fashion brands had no clue no idea how to go online how to sell their products online

so we had similar similar idea on on the design and and Furniture industry and

and so we launched both retail so we open retail in Milan and then London and Paris and then the the e-commerce and

then also catalog so it was two and a half years of intense uh you know uh learning

doing a bit of everything across everything the retail and the e-commerce and then I had a chance to join Google

uh Google acquired a company called double click back in 2008 and and at the time it was a sort of the beginning of a

revolution in the ad Tech space right so at the time double click was mainly an ad server um Counting Impressions clicks

um and conversions and it evolved into what it is today you know the whole programmatic Space realtime beaing and so on and so

forth right so it became increasingly sophisticated um and and and so it was a journey right so for for for for for us

within Google was a sort of being in a startup within Google so to build the alignment with the different

stakeholders um but also there was at the time there was a big Chinese world right so double click was more media

buying it was a platform sort of business where um we were not we were not responsible for the Google own and

operated properties right so but it was a piece of technology it was selling more technology rather than media H and

and the evolution of Double C has been under the eyes of everyone right so it's been it's been a massive massive growth

uh and and and also one of those things that helped to have The Narrative of transforming the the agency right so

business model and and the whole ecosystem right so when it comes to the attech and mtech space and together with

that we we we know the the the product the the suite of products expanded right

so H from the P server we we Google acquire a comical urging which became Google Analytics

then we we launched the premium version of Google analytics which eventually evolved into Google analytics 360 and

from there we had the Google marketing platform right so that merged the you know the atch side the attech side of

things with the site Centric side of things the behavior right all together in

one have an holistic view of the user Behavior and the conversion in one place

then I had a chance to to join Microsoft to lead the venture capital and startup Division and I recently joined PF nine

months ago uh uh to to work on the value creation and transformation projects across minia

Investments um so looking forward uh you know to to have the conversation today

and and and thank you again Matt and and Nadim for inviting me sure uh again

pleasure to have you and thanks for sharing uh very exciting very very exciting uh career and just wanted to

like get your thoughts you've you've haded the platform marketing at Google for uh for like almost uh four five

years so I wanted to ask you like before jumping from Google to Microsoft uh and

looking at what the state of you know digital transformation is today uh how

did you see how do you see this you know change uh re being reshaped you know

with generative AI with everything related to immersive Commerce so from what you started previously and you

mentioned that you worked in in in the retail sector as well so how it was the state previously when you started to

what it is now and how do you see it changing in the coming decade so if you can elaborate a bit on on this no

absolutely listen when I started you know it was back in 2008 right so um in Google I

mean and and and um you know the user Journey was was was different than it is

today in the sense that it was still a bit more linear even if it was already started to to change and and we were we

were leaving the the the real mobile Revolution right so we we had all the narrative around mobile first and how

you know people were could interact with Brands you know with brands from mobile um and and mobile conversions and so on

and so forth right so it was the beginning of of that journey and now we are very much beyond that right

so we you know to today online offline today we we have all the different you

know the customer journey is is is definitely more sophisticated and and

and and the the you know is a completely different reality right so compared to where we were at

that time back in those days you know even from an ntech perspective the

technology was um was was purely a counter right so we had the counter

and the signals that we we started having about audience were still you

know not that sophisticated today we have data feeds right so that that can come from a variety of different sources

but also the the the targeting capab ities that we have today in order to uh to address the different audiences and

and you know the different stages of the funnel as well or the different stages of the customer uh Journey we we have an

abundance of of of data that we didn't have before plus also the the generative capabilities that we have today in order

to be able to adapt uh the response you know to to to what the user Behavior or

the user intent is and the contextual the context of where the users are are are you know uh from I mean it's it's

way more sophisticated way more real time way more adaptive than than it used to be so the evolution is is definitely

clear and we can only see this improving even further uh in order to uh you know

blend blend all the different inputs we have about about the users and and the different data fits into with with AI

and and and and then have you know different experiences that are you know shaped at scale uh you know uh for

different users and personalization gets more and more real right so compared to what it used to be even in 2008 we were

we had the narrative around personalization but the reality is was uh either was very manual or it required

a lot of customizations right in in in in the tracking a lot of customization in the implementation of different solutions to make it happen and it was

still very siloed across different different channels today today today we have more and more Integrations across

the different channels platforms and media from where the users are connecting from and we have more intelligence about the user Behavior

right so progressively what we have seen also evolving is the behaviors of the consumers right so even from the Google

from the searches that that you know and from a lot of different signals we can see today consumers are more impatient

are more demanding are more Curious and you can see from uh what what consumers are looking for right so they don't just

look for something they look for something near them they look for something quickly in in one hour they

look for a delivery in 1 hour or or stuff like that right so so that tells a lot about how the consumer be Behavior

has evolved and how technology has has also evolved in order to cope with that

and advertising has have been following right so all the signals we have about users today uh what we can do today with

programmatic real time you know to beat for an impression where we know the audience behind and it's a premium because we know that your audience is

more likely to convert uh because it's it's in Target right so versus not uh

it's it's pretty sophisticated and and the the whole automation we can build out of that sophistication is also

pretty impressive today uh compared to what it used to be in all of this the customer experience the user experience

right so plays a a key role right so the the whole immersion of users in uh in

the new technologies whether it's AR or or VR but also the new web three Technologies right so that enable more

flexibility in in in the in the business model as well the brand loyalty those

are all uh still Uncharted territories right so because we we see we still see we see the first Solutions the first

developments of uh uh Concepts that leverage these Technologies but more more can be done uh to leverage these

Technologies in a way that you know to blend better better user experiences at the end of the

day yeah um I completely agree on that point personalization is a key uh

feature again for providing a more personalized shopping experience for consumers and to take a deeper dive on

personalization and immersive Commerce since you mentioned arvr and digital transformation the retail sector I'll

hand it over to Matt to to dig deeper onto these topics and so Matt yeah over

to you yeah sure thank you both yeah I I wanted to rebor actually like what you

mentioned this consumer behavior is changing and they want personalization um like we still see

this now e-commerce that like you know have only flat images like since the 2000s um what is your opinion on this

new tech Technologies like 3D a virtual Trion do you think it really like

improve the the experience of customers do you think they have a better Journey with the brands like make does it make

it like more loyal to the brands do they have more fun with the brand um how do

you think it is today and how do you see that evolving no I think I think uh some of

the Technologies you mentioned um are are are really uh key right so to

enhance the the experience that that consumers have with with the brands if we take the VTO right so VTO

Technologies so I believe this this set of Technologies can create um a more engaging shopping experience right so

because think about it these Technologies can at the end of the day they can allow consumers uh to visualize

themselves uh with the product uh and um and this can create a a more personal

connection with the brand and this is this is key this is we have I mean we have researches and data right so that

prove that the more personal connection you can establish between a user a consumer potential consumer and and a

brand of course that that has a return R in the conversion and in the Loyalty as well so uh uh the fact that users can

visualize themselves for example with a brand with with technology in an easy way in a smooth way um it's it's it's

something that is already uh a great enhancement in the in the user Journey

also there is an element of it's not just you know uh it's not just how to

say uh the users that are able to be more engaged in the shopping experience

but also at some point you want to convert right so it's also increasing the confidence in in the purchase right

so so uh sometimes you know and you see it from from analysis of of the cards

right so and then the the the dropping users dropping in at some certain stages

of of the of the purchase funnel right so at some point you can see that sometimes you see hesitation in online

shopping due to uncertainty for example of fit and look like let's take this example so uh uh VTO Technologies can

increase uh the the confidence that the consumers say because they can reduce this uncertainty right so they can lead

to a higher conversion rate because at the end of the day you return more confidence uh to users in in in their

purchase process right so um for example there was this virtual artist that

Sephora created that and there was this case study where

it reported that that the their virtual assets was able to increase both engagement and purchase confidence by a

a big percentage right so so I think I think all of these technology at the end of the day to your question are

increasing both either the engagement or the confidence of users during the the funnel and either users feel more part

of like they feel that they have a better personal connection with the brand or they feel that they have more

confidence in in completing the purchase and not abandoning in the C because of uh it's it feels that it's more

personalized and the uncertainty or the hesitation that they had was the technology helped them to remove those

those feelings as well yeah I agree with you and um just one question additional

to this so we see like today still like images are the prominant on the e-commerce pages of product and more

like virtual Trion and 3D comes as an option do you think that in the next like two or three years 3D is going to

become this standard and images are going to become the options I I I think I think the trend is

there right so um 3D 3D AR Technologies U are are definitely uh uh contributing

to enhance the the shopping experience um right so having the chance to see a

product maybe even this in the same environment where you you are purchasing it for right so and and and and maybe

even get to interact with it or or to to to you know to to to to have a more

visual realization of what that that product is going to be uh uh you know is

is is is definitely anouncing the experience is providing a more even sort of an inore feeling some sometimes um so

um I remember with Nadim right so we had we had some examples with the Ikea uh

applications and you know the ability to visualize even the furniture in your space is really key because you're you

figure it out you you feel more immersed you you feel like not not just engage but you feel like

you have the confidence that what you're looking for is you know is the experience that you wanted to have with the product that you are trying to right

so and this can apply to the different segments right so uh um I I was recently

in an investor call where uh the owner of the largest hotel chain globally uh

was talking about web3 and and AR and VR Technologies and so oh wow you know uh this is a guy in the 70s that have you

know seen all whatever you can see in right so enhancing the user experience when it comes to hotels and

hospitality and how he was looking to embrace these new technologies right so because at the end of the day if you see

today when you go to book for example online a room right in a hotel it's it's

it's commoditized right so it's it's competition is on price and you know they all look the same you have the same pictures of this bed and then this this

you know whatever it's it doesn't feel like so whereas if you can have a sort of a pre experience what it could look

like the more technology can help to to get you that feeling the more you can buy that that that that user right so

you can buy and and and the user can can can feel that okay this is the experience I really want to to to have

and and and I think I think so these Technologies and andr and and then the 3D version of of of rendering could

definitely help in that Journey absolutely yeah definitely and I have one more example that I was thinking

about recently you know um I took a plane and I traveled and I was always

wondering how the business class looks like you know like um and so you don't know that when you buy a ticket you you

like think like oh maybe it's cool like but you don't really know if you would have something like this you know that

shows you the environment and you would Place yourself in this you would have more confidence to buy this like higher

price uh tickets rather than just a normal one no no listen this can apply

to a lot of segments even even even even traditional things where uh people and it's cultural right so

think about buying a car online but if you can if you can experience that car maybe in 3D and you can open you can get

into the car and see in 3d right so how that that the feeling is and you can render that feeling in in in in the best

way possible I think this is very engaging right so uh for for users and

then you can definitely feel and and you can definitely see that the the the the connection to conversion rate is much

higher when you you provide those more engaging and Rich experiences for

users yeah definitely um cool uh I think Nadim wanted to to ask you a little bit

more about a certain Market uh where where these Technologies could could

also be helpful yeah um so yeah thanks Roberto

amazing insights and thank you for sharing these um so you know different markets have been segregated and you

know have been have evolved differently US versus Europe versus Asia southeast

Asia and the GCC how do you see the GCC Market positioning itself in the coming five years in terms of digital

transformation and adopting not just you know immersive Technologies for the retail space but in general how do you

think it's adopting these Technologies to position itself as as a leader in in in a global crowded ecosystem I would

say yeah yeah listen I think I think at this part of the world and the GCC we are in a very good position right

so historically no doubt that mature markets the US Europe and even uh in some Asian markets have been really at

the Forefront and driving a lot of the transformation and the new technologies but when it comes to retail specifically

when it comes to retail and think about the mobile mobile penetration right so uh GCC is probably one of the region

with the highest mobile penetration globally um and and some of the retails

are making probably even more than 85 to 90% of the revenues from mobile and and

and so m mcommerce is also driving a lot of retail right so across the GCC region

plus if you cope this with uh the fact that we have a sort of a luxury shopping

experience right so uh in the GCC the consumers there is Affinity right so for

luxury goods and premium service for example uh or think about exclusive

online connections luxury experiences you know the market segments that we have here as well is used to have these

interactions is used to have these experiences right so I I guess so if we cope this with with again with the

mobile penetration and the fact that we we we we have massive already adoption of um uh business that is driving

revenues from from mobile and apps already in the region I I think I think we have the foundation right so to to

keep expanding on that right so we have we have users that are Sav enough and mature enough to uh uh appreciate right

so what the evolution of these Technologies and for example arvr and and 3D adoption uh you know you know

could bring to the table here right so so I think I think we we have the right

indicators across GCC and and and Brands more and more should should and have

already started in the region but but can do more and more is to to include to en reach these experiences by adopting

this these emerging Technologies and by integrating into the brand experience right so or or even imagining new

experiences right so because the opportunity the opportunities that these Technologies are are are offering are

endless right so to to to offer new experiences for for users so so I think

I think the region here is blessed by the fact that there have been already massive adoption right so and investment

that the fact that the users are very used to uh you know mobile mobile first mobile navigation and apps right so that

that makes it easier for them to interact with the content and with the not only the content but also the the

purchase right online and and businesses have have have been structured already in a way where they take advantage and

they they benefits out of this right so so I think I think to summarize uh uh in the GCC we we see uh

we see definitely probably one of the best regions to capitalize on uh the benefits that these Technologies can

bring to to users yeah um thanks for sharing and I completely agree on on that point uh and

of course the purchasing power in the GCC is very different than different markets and as you mentioned luxury is a

key I would say um a key sector and a key category uh in this market and again

people are really like very selective of what what they're buying and there's a lot of social activities there um

Roberto I know that so moving a bit away from the topic I know that you've advised a lot of startups uh and you

continuously do that and you know you have tremendous experience in that so I just really for everyone's you know um

uh I would say uh information I want to ask and I want to ask you to provide

maybe the key uh three learnings that you have throughout that you have actually gathered throughout your career

and what would you advise like aspiring uh entrepreneurs or people who would like to uh like you know evolve

throughout their career so what are your top five or top three key learnings that you actually or princip principles that

you adopted and that enabled you to navigate through all this you know career advancement sure uh listen happy to so I

I I I I don't have a list or a number right so but but but what I think some some of the pr principles or some of the

learnings I would love to share definitely the first one I would say is definitely about uh it's it's all about

people right so um especially uh uh it's always about people right so and I've

been blessed to work for some of the and and and coolest technology companies and

even even even even inside those companies I would say it's it boils down to to to people as well right so so when

you're building a new Venture when you are building a new startup uh at the end of the day what what the best investors

look into is is especially in the early stage right so is the quality of the funding team is the quality of the

people um is is and and that that entails many different things right so

what does thatan mean so so so what I would say is you you you you have the real complementarity and composition of

the of the right team right so at some point you have you need to have you need

to to to have the the solidity both on the technical side of things and on the commercial side of things because this

is this is what you need to do basically right so without making it into roles but you need to have people that that

are able to to to tell the the story right and to understand the users and to to bring this Feb back and to sell you

need to have people that are you know able to build the products so to to technically build build the the company

right so the so but but and then there is the human element right so the commitment uh of of of of those funders

and the people right so to to that business and to that problem right so so so so this is one thing I think people is probably element number one and

lessons Lear number one so is also that means also uh making the right time to

enable right so the people as as well in a way that they can really succeed and thrive in in in that environment right

so and and that also means connected to that is setting the right culture from day one right so in the company because

without that then all everything else can fall apart right so sounds straightforward but we see that most of

the times most of the early stage companies or startups fail because of that right so that also entails for

example uh the the the how to say the governance right so between the founders

co-founders right so um um 65% of startups in early stage fail because of people related issues

including for example not having uh uh managed the good in in a good way the

the the the governance and the what the relationship between the co-founders and the responsibilities between the co-founders should be for example as one

of the examples and that boils down to the quality of of the funding team and of of of the people so this is this is

definitely one key lesson uh for me the the the another another lesson

it boils down I would say is a matter of mindset right so uh uh the mindset the

mindset is is key to uh to overcome uh the the difficulties right so we are

living in a increasingly complex and uncertain world you see every day right so you see these days what's going on

you know everywhere everywhere else in the world right so the amount of uncertainty is is is just exponentially

increased in the recent years and makes it more difficult to uh plan for the future it makes more

difficult to forecast it makes more difficult many many things to give the to to to Pivot for example and and so on

and so forth so how to how to solve for that how to thrive how to succeed in a

increasingly complex and uncertain world and and I don't have a a right or wrong answer but but I

think it it boils down to have a set of beliefs that you turn to whenever things

don't go as is expected whenever things go wrong whenever there is a an unexpected crisis or so on and so forth

right so that set of beliefs is sort of a compass or or a guide that that keeps

you you know going right so and those set of beliefs can be different for each

one of us right so but for me what I learned is the important thing is uh that you made the time to think through

or to to to Define what your set of beliefs is because uh it will come a

point in time where you might need to turn to those things in order in order to either solve some ethical dilemas

that would come through because again uncertainty of certain decisions uh would would imply that you need to make

some ethical decisions sooner or later or because you're just facing some extremely unexpected or difficult

situations right and then uh you might not have necessarily around you uh

people that would have an answer for you or to be able to help you you know end to end so that set of beliefs I think is

is is key you know for succeed and then the other thing I've seen you know in my experience is is usually those

entrepreneurs that are successful are the ones that fall in love with the problem so they they don't jump to

conclusion they don't fall in love with their idea too much at a point that it becomes a slippy slope and and it become

a distortion of the reality right because then you might end up loving your idea that much that you don't see

that is not going the right direction or the FIB you receive you don't start not hearing too much about those right so

one thing is is having a belief that you want to drive something forward it's your purpose the other thing is uh uh uh

being able to uh uh uh you know to to to spend enough time in in the problem

space to make sure that you are attacking the root causes or the real problem instead of what are symptoms

right so because then the solutions you end up with might be very different and

and you might end up with a solution that is maybe great for a syndome but then you realize that there is not an addressable market for for that because

it was not the real problem that you're trying to solve right so and so I would say and and that is the real Challenger

because there is no what is the fine line where where is the H you know where is The Edge I mean it's it's not written

anywhere right so it's something that you need to figure out yourself it comes with experience um and and and that's

why even failing as a first time fer is not necessarily a bad thing because uh

you might get all of those learnings to to help you right so for your next venture as well right so so um but

falling in love with the problem is something I think it's overseen and and I think not many funders are uh

necessarily taking the courage or the time to to to do that right and finally

I would say at some point is also a matter of making the hard calls right so uh uh sometimes uh uh and a lot of

firsttime Founders you know don't get to that right so either they postpone the

those hard calls or they don't take those hard calls at all and and and then when they wake up and it's it's it's you

know they they they understood that sometimes it's late right so and this can happen across many different things

it could happen when you fund raise right so that you try to fund raise too early or you Del too much your company or it's too late right it's a borderline

that is difficult to but could come also with product decision right so it it could come with business model decision

could come with partnership decisions right so it's across the board and and and and the real successful

Founders that I had the chance to to to to to to work with or to interact with I

feel I feel that they all have in common disability also to to to make hard calls and to um to ruthlessly prioritize right

and to to to to implement that Focus that they need uh in order to uh to nail

it down right and then expand and then incrementally increase but but um I

think this is this is this is another lesson learned across the journey amazing uh very very interesting Insight

thank you for sharing this uh and really it's great I think these are uh lessons that anyone can learn whether they want

to pursue like um in an entrepreneurship you know Journey or whether they're part

of their career and you know U just gr within companies um and really just

maybe as a final thought Matt I think you have one uh one or a couple of more questions before we wrap up this webinar

so I'll hand it over to

you uh you're muted Matt got mute yeah I have indeed one more question and

and I want to come back more on the brand side and uh I want to learn from your experience like um let's say you're

a brand and you decided to adopt new like Technologies like 3D ER virtual Tri um how do you think these

brands are setting up for Success like what is the the formula to set up for Success yeah that's that's that's a

that's an amazing question so I think I think the brands that I've seen most successful in in in adopting new

technologies or let's say we can extend this to implementing some sort of change right so because at the end of the day

you are you are going to touch some of your processes you're going to touch some of your channels or or or experiences right so user experiences

um so are are those that uh first of all uh they have sort of a I would say uh

first of all they have a growth mindset right so they they face all of this as learning opportunities right so they

they they don't build something that gets stuck because they they they they made it like a process where they have

an assumption and it's all dependent on that but they make it an iterative process of experimenting and learning so

they build really a culture of experimentation and they're able to uh keep you know iterating back the feedack

that they get to improve continues to improve so this is this is one approach the second the second uh one uh the

second approach i' I've noticed in in BR that do this successfully is they really focus on the user first right so they

really focus on the user Journey they really focus on the user they don't assume that because they have already have established it processes internally

to the organization to the brand or established alignment across different dep Partners that's the only way to do

things right so they they put the user first and they start with setting what are user matrics of success that then

turn into their own success as a brand right so and and companies that do that

uh uh uh in a good way they they are definitely um more successful than than

other companies because at the end of the day they they uh they have a learning mindset as we said but also

they know why they're doing certain things whereas there are companies that believe it or not uh they don't have a

framework that would allow them to uh to constantly remind themselves why they're

doing what they're doing right so uh whereas successful companies have also

from a measurement perspective they have uh the ability to set up Frameworks where they they they know what they're

driving and why they're driving what they're driving and how they're going to measure so what the measure of success objectives that achieve through certain

initiatives or or or marketing initiatives or when they introduce a new technology for example or when they

experimented new new upate they for example they they know how to do testing

right so whether it's a a a simple AB test or it's a multiv testing or it's a

a cohort based scenario right so or whatever they they intentionally uh have built an

environment where they can run multiple of these tests right at the same time

and and and but they're also able them to to to have the right measure of success in place so that they can get the signals and the data back and

iterate on that so they build this sort of virtuous process where they can keep

making it better and better but they're not stuck because they're not striving for Perfection right so they accept that

uh you know they need to start somewhere and then they keep evolving on that uh right so so I think I think those are

the the best companies I've been interacting with and where I've seen that they're really being very successful in driving you know either

new technology introductions or you know even change management within existing processes that they might already have

great yeah I agree all about the the mentality the people driving the company

and yeah this sense of like not be scared to fail and try new things to

satisfy your customers yeah and I agree on that as well very importantly is you know uh

having an open mindset listening to feedback from the market as well as H being very focused on the metrics that

you put in and the data so really collecting data analyzing data and really seeing how how you're actually

comparing to your goal metrics that you have set up and really combining these whole strategies together is actually

what actually like enables the the company to to succeed um thank you so much Roberto uh always a pleasure

speaking with you great insight as usual uh I hope everyone have here enjoyed our

conversation and learned a lot from it uh we sure did uh again thanks so much

for being here it's always a pleasure to have you and looking forward maybe to having you another time on a

different topic anytime looking forward it's always a pleasure working with you guys

and and you know I've been one of the early supporters of design apps and I believe what your guys are doing is is

exceptional is is is is awesome and is going to have an impact right on on on on on the businesses and and the brands

so definitely thank you for having me and again apologies if I to uh find you know connecting through the mobile um I

hope I hope the audio and experience was good and and and and thank you so much for having me thank you and thank you

all and we'll be in touch for our next webinar have a great


Nadim Habr

Nadim Habr

Designhubz CEO | Forbes 30u30