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The Consumer In Chaos: Balancing Demand For Fast Tech And A Slower Life

On and offline shopping experiences are slowly merging.

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On and offline shopping experiences are slowly merging.

Opinions

The Consumer In Chaos: Balancing Demand For Fast Tech And A Slower Life

On and offline shopping experiences are slowly merging.

Share this article

The mass consumer of today is challenged, over-informed and unhappy. Each one of us is bombarded with thousands of product offers each and every day. Nearly everything is available 24/7, via retail stores on the high street and online, with delivery services almost ubiquitous.

The prices of mass products are decreasing as quality increases - while the industry hopes to innovate and disrupt with flashy new products and services to keep customers loyal.

As we contemplate the future consumer, here are just some things every business needs to consider:

Are we measuring the right things?

Management decisions are driven by the same KPIs such as growth, profits and new markets that ruled in a pre-digital era. But are they fit for purpose? A company that puts customers at its heart must balance the creation of shareholder value with that of the customers.

What are the KPIs to measure the relevance of the decisions a company makes for customers. It’s for sure beyond new products and lower prices. Are up- and cross selling really the way to “earn out” a customer?

Is the filled trolley our goal or the filled shopping cart online? Are frequency, loyalty and customer satisfaction important? Is the lifetime value of a customer our one and only key performance indicator?

Is the mix of technology and data our Garden of Eden?

Many companies are starting to learn what they can do with data and talking of transforming data into gold. Amazon, Google and Facebook are at the forefront of monetizing big data, but every company must work out how to move from merely reporting data to becoming effective data-informed entities. It’s no easy thing.

Is technology as ‘virtual butler’ our dream for the future?

Of course customers are looking for convenience – the introduction of any successful technology over time has proven that. But in a data-driven world perhaps even choices will be made for us. Will we let our digital assistants decide or suggest products and services we need, or detect our health? Will we even allow them to purchase them without tacit authorisation?

Is tomorrow’s customer in the future a “homo economicus digitalis”?

It’s already happening. According to Google, more than two-thirds of customer retail journeys start on the Web, although more than half (54%) of those shopping searches will result in an offline purchase. We see that people are using the transparency and convenience of the Web to search out deals.

This will change dramatically in the future. The Internet of Things and all the other machine learning contributions to sales optimisation will lead the way and change our way of daily shopping.

Introducing the idea of the digital customer as our Point of Sale

The customers and his ID/SIM-Card are the true POS today. All information, services and transactions are personalised, algorithms are increasingly efficient. The customer is no longer a moving target: he or she offers his or her money and data on a 24/7 basis.

What is the reality of omnichannel?

We talk a good game around omnichannel and the need for a single view of the consumer. As a fisherman must have the right boat and the right net to catch as many fish as possible, so too must we have the right tools in the right order to succeed.

Another analogy is that of an orchestra in which all instruments are playing their part. Yes, but consider who that orchestra conductor really is:

it is not the company but the customer.

The instruments are not easy to orchestrate. Some 80% of retailers and big international companies have been using the same instruments for a decade.

Product innovation is a risk, communication without effective KPIs is standard, and risk-averse managers are in charge. They’re playing the same old songs. Every year the orchestra is playing the same songs, but not in a better way.

Will the retail store as we know it be dead in some years?

Retailers adapting to changes in consumer behaviour will be those that reinvent their physical stores and supply chains to meet consumer needs in the future.

As for shoppers, the preferences of millennials and others have taken precedence, and both demographics now move fluidly from “experiencing” products in stores to ordering them online.

Retailers of the future will embrace digital and envisioned new ways to serve their customers. Physical stores will be changed into lively, immersive environments. They rely on sensors to capture and analyse data in real time, and all boundaries between online and offline shopping are blown away.

Heimo Hammer is the co-author of Fast Forward Files: Opening Up, published by Molden Verlag, which is available now. For more details visit https://fastforwardforum.eu.

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The Consumer In Chaos: Balancing Demand For Fast Tech And A Slower Life

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