As the world becomes increasingly digital, many businesses are working to reinvent consumer experiences and find ways to make them more personalized, convenient and easy-to-navigate. YML a Silicon Valley-based creative agency, has been at the forefront of this change, having led digital creations for some of the biggest companies of this generation including Google, The Home Depot, YETI, Thrive Market and Polestar.
I had the opportunity to chat with Ashish Toshniwal, CEO and founder of YML to discuss how in today’s climate, companies can create a lasting impact through an upgraded digital experience.
Gary Drenik: Generally speaking, how do you think most brands or retailers should utilize an upgraded digital experience to drive new customers?
Ashish Toshniwal: At a time when 56% of consumers use their smartphone to find a new product or service, (according to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey), it all starts with what the customers are asking for and how the brand can cater to its consumer base. With YML, our goal is to simplify the digital experience for consumers, rather than simply incorporating new and exciting digital trends. For instance, with grocery shopping, most consumers used to physically go into stores, but Covid-19 has undeniably moved more consumers toward digital shopping. Rather than simply allowing consumers to purchase their groceries via a website or app, we’ve made it our mission to replicate the aisles in grocery stores through a customizable, digital shopping experience as demonstrated by our work with Safeway, Thrive Market, and other retailers.
Drenik: How has YML incorporated the Silicon Valley mindset into e-commerce?
Toshniwal: The Silicon Valley mindset has two key pillars. The first is innovating through building rather than repeatedly coming up with new strategies that take a while to execute. This means putting innovations to the test without fantasizing about perfection and learning fast while working towards an end result.
The second pillar is speed and following the change, not the plan. This is how a startup with no resources can keep up with or outpace a Fortune 500 company. This was particularly evident throughout the pandemic with businesses who worked to rapidly digitize customer experiences that typically occur in-person. YML was able to incorporate this mindset into a variety of industries from restaurants, grocers and even health/medicine.
Drenik: In today’s climate, how can brands and retailers acquire new customers?
Toshniwal: In the post-pandemic era, it’s important to keep up with the trend of limiting physical touchpoint and brick+mortar experiences to satisfy customers who are trying to avoid in-person experiences as much as possible. This is relevant to a myriad of experiences from grocery shopping, supporting restaurants, doctor’s appointments, and many others that we have worked to digitize over the last two years. We also aim to make each service as simple and navigable as possible for smartphones, knowing that 54.8% of people 18-34 use their smartphones for everything – including shopping, business, appointments and much more, according to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey. We found this incredibly useful with the app experiences we created for companies including Thrive Market and California Pizza Kitchen throughout the pandemic.
Drenik: In your own words, what is the future of digital design?
Toshniwal: The future of digital design is all about that Silicon-Valley mindset of following the change, not the plan and pivoting quickly. Businesses will need to continue to pivot fast in order to acquire and sustain new consumers in today’s climate. Additionally, businesses also need to be able to utilize digital design to anticipate consumers’ needs and focus on how they can preemptively improve their lives rather than simply react to customer service requests about websites or app experiences.
Drenik: Are there one or two digital experiences you’ve worked on that demonstrate YML’s unique, tech-driven mindset?
Toshniwal: Our work with Safeway allowed us to create an easy online shopping experience for consumers at a time when the vast majority of people were still going to physical grocery stores on a regular basis. Not only did that prove incredibly valuable with the pandemic but it also showed consumers that there’s an easier, less time-consuming way for them to complete routine activities like grocery shopping. Another experience we’re incredibly proud of is the telehealth system we helped design and build for one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. The system we helped build allowed patients a seamless transition to virtual healthcare at a time when going to physical hospitals and doctor’s offices came with risks.
Drenik: Which e-commerce trends are YML particularly excited about for 2022?
Toshniwal: In a Metaverse world where the online identities of people have surpassed physical identities, we’re incredibly excited about NFT’s and how they will define wealth, status, and value. We’re also excited about Web 3.0 and how that will impact the digital design landscape.
Drenik: Thank you, Ashish, for teaching us about YML’s unique Silicon-Valley mindset and discussing the future of digital design and e-commerce. It was great to learn more about the company and the incredible digital experiences you’ve created for a variety of businesses.