Recent shifts have substantially accelerated some of the consumer trends that have started a while ago. New behaviors are being tracked across category consumption, channel selection, shopper trip frequency, brand preference, and media consumption.
Consumers are expecting a simple, seamless, and pleasant experience. These changes are already strongly impacting consumer-goods companies and their ecosystem partnerships. They are facing a major disruption in speed and scale that are influencing the further development of their operating models. And every contact and step count, whether this is on or off-line.
A friend told me a story the other day about her new digital shopping experience
An attractive, limited time offer of 40% discount convinced her to purchase the new running shoes. She opted-in to buy online, pick up in-store options. During pick up at the store she tried her new shoes on and realized they were a number too big. So, she wanted to swap them on site for a smaller number, since retailer had them on the stock.
Imagine her surprise when she learned this is not possible. To “solve the problem“ she was advised to return the product via regular post, at her own expense, and repurchase the number smaller running shoes online (the price promotion was already off). Needless to say, how the story concluded.
Modern businesses need to adapt if they want to stand out in today’s noise.
Companies are making big and bold changes to capture revenue quickly and stabilize their business. They will need to continue to push beyond the way things have been done in the past, but first, they must cement the positive changes they have already made. They need to learn what works and what doesn’t. “Agile” does not just mean putting test-and-learn practices in place. It means putting in place a new operating model, built around the customer, and supported by the right processes and governance.
Companies and brands need to understand their customer preferences and habits to better meet ever-evolving customer expectations. They need to build trust by providing value first and become a reliable partner in the transaction process. Improve activation for new and existing customers to win and remain relevant.
After the situation calms down, retailers will need to rethink how to attract customers back to traditional brick-and-mortar stores; how to incentivize them? Retailers must, therefore, think about potential omnichannel integration, and consider how to add new value, shape a seamless and pleasant experience while managing these new expectations.
Omnichannel personalization requires companies to rethink their organizational structure, capabilities, and incentives across the digital and physical parts of the business.
Customers are becoming more comfortable with virtual platforms. Traditional independent operations of digital and physical channels, each with its strategy, goals, and ownership of the results seem outdated. The shift can only happen when incentives are aligned with outcomes and measurements applied across online and in-store channels.
Developing a complete omnichannel personalization from scratch is a challenge. As time is of the importance, companies should start small, with the highest-value use cases and building on existing touch points. Create a distinctive customer experience, prove customer value and build further from there while the lines between the digital and physical continue to blend.
... and imagine the store of the future
… where intimate knowledge from past behavior and choices is used for the creation of personalized approach, customer adapted interaction, and development of customer propriety products influencing "more likely to buy" .... consumers don't always know what they're looking for before they enter a store, but they do know when they are being treated as a valued customer.
… where everything is automated and interactive so consumers can shop everywhere, they go using their phones … and retailers can anticipate, sense, and interact with customers everywhere they go — inside and outside of the store.
... where shopping is centered around the experience … underpinned by technology and exciting for consumers to stick around, where they can explore showrooms for product information, where they can interact with products and brand experts.
… where platform is fully flexible around personalization and promotion, dynamic on return policies to ease and simplify the shopping experience … where asset management meets commerce through measured innovation effectiveness.
Yes, progress is linked to generating customer engagement and positive customer experiences with the support of technology. But we should not forget about the people aspect. People on site play an important role in personal interaction. Sometimes dealing with unpredictable situations occurring on the spot. Kindness, personal motivation and genuine customer support can also deliver miracles in changing perceptions and can influence customer loyalty.