The trends shaping how customers will behave and buy
In 1962, Andy Warhol displayed his now iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans, cementing the brand in the minds of the American people. Whether or not it was his intention to do so, the popularity of Warhol’s image made Campbell’s the go-to option for consumers deciding which soup to buy.
If the famous image was released in 2018, however, Warhol might not have had the same effect: the options available to consumers now are endless. Changing consumer preferences, coupled with the rise in e-commerce, is creating tectonic shifts in consumer trends.
Technological determinism asserts that technology plays a role in how we act as individuals and as a society. New technologies like IoT and 5G are accelerating these changes which impacts consumer behaviour and purchasing decisions.
Research from Sitecore has found that only 17% of transactions in the UK happen online, suggesting consumers still prefer an in-store experience. Alibaba has also made a move towards opening a brick and mortar store, significant given the fact that China has the biggest marketplace for online consumerism.
Although consumers still enjoy a physical experience, there is a growing preference for proximity and convenience.
Moby Mart, the world’s first store without any human management has launched in China. Opening 24/7, consumers can find their nearest store on the app and be charged for their items as they leave without having to queue.
Subscription-based models are also growing in popularity, as consumers prefer the convenience of a renewable service that requires very little involvement after the initial sign-up.
If you own the interface, you own the data
But there isn’t a shift only with consumers. Google, Amazon and Facebook have been deemed interface imperialists in the sense that they are competing with one another to own every single interface a consumer uses so they are the first point of contact when users make a new purchase.
By owning an interface, organisations can redefine the customer journey, which will allow organisations to give their users a better experience, as well as drive their own growth and revenue.
By creating options like one-click purchases and same-day shipping, Amazon has removed many of the pain points for their consumers, increasing the chances of a user returning to Amazon for their next purchase.
Thinking beyond the transaction
Because of the growth in interface imperialists, consumer expectations are also rising as they expect the same quality and online experience they receive from Amazon or Google with every brand they interact with.
Brands should operate with the sole goal of making their customers’ lives easier. Quality, convenience and service throughout the customer experience is crucial. The customer experience no longer ends when the sale is made as the biggest pain point with ecommerce sales is delivery method, with 25% of respondents in the US and UK saying they had a problem with how their product was delivered.
Consumers will expect delivery to be done quickly and efficiently as 60% of consumers expect 1 day delivery as a norm. In the US, 22% of consumers expect delivery to take place in less than 12 hours.
Brands should also ensure they are operating with an omnichannel strategy, meaning they can link the offline and online experiences for their consumers in a seamless, pain free way. Creating an online inventory which tells consumers what they can find in specific stores is one example of how retailers can achieve this.
Preparing for the future
Brands must adapt as new innovations will continue to change how consumers interact with brands. As voice technology continues to improve, it is likely consumers and organisations will move towards a zero user interface, meaning they will not pull up a website or look at a screen, but rather order their products through voice or their thoughts.
Facebook is already experimenting with technology that will allow users to control devices and send/receive information with just their thoughts. While this may be further out on the horizon, voice assistants as a new form of interaction is already happening and research shows consumers are on board with this.
44% of consumers in the UK are comfortable ordering new products through voice assistance, although 89% of respondents in both the US and UK said they would still open a screen first. As voice AI becomes more sophisticated, however, it is likely consumers will begin using voice as their de-facto choice of ordering.
Programmatic commerce may also become more commonplace as IoT improves. This would allow machines and connected devices to automatically reorder and replenish products based on users consumption data so the consumer never goes without. It is very likely that a combination of programmatic commerce and subscription models will be the future of user/brand interaction.
These shifts in consumer habits are not confined to one specific industry, but impact businesses across different industries and it is crucial for organisations to understand what is happening in the current marketplace to adapt effectively. Adding digital elements is not enough, the entire business must transform to remain competitive.
The event was held in partnership with Sitecore and Wunderman.
Sitecore is about customer experience; their mission is to help their clients provide the best possible customer experience through content management and personalisation.
Wunderman specialises in data and insights to help brands deliver better experiences for their consumers across all channels.