Today’s consumer is a product of tough economic times, unsatisfied customer experiences, and overwhelming want for deeper relationships with brands. They want more – but the question is…what can we do to meet their needs? Consumers don’t want to be fed, and they will question, research, and fight tooth and nail to own their experience. The era of the connected consumer has long arrived. It is no longer the brand alone, or the retailer store count that owns the retail experience. The consumer is directing how they wish to participate in today’s eclectic experience environment. They expect and embrace the omnichannel environment of today’s retail world. They expect the brick and mortar experience to be as good as, if not better than the intuitive online experience. Our customers are a tough crowd, and as they become more and more connected, standards are only going to rise.
The new age consumer uses multiple forms of media devices to research and evaluate their shopping needs and how they fulfill them. In a recent Infosys Study, rethinking retail, it was found that 86% of consumers who have experienced personalization technology while shopping admitted that personalization has influenced their purchasing decisions. 69% of consumers responded to the study, stating that consistency of customer engagement across bricks and mortar and online store sites was important to their buying decision. Digital commerce technology will be a major focal point of retail customer personalization.
Major retailers are even incorporating artificial intelligence technology to develop a deeper knowledge base of their customers. This will allow savvy retailers to provide truly intelligent recommendations based on past behaviors and preferences. Virtual store assistants of the future will utilize more complex data patterns, more human like interfaces, and natural language to create a more seamless user experience. Retailers and brand marketers are trying to maximizing their customer relevance with next-generation personalization.
Retailers and brand marketers have long personalized their websites for customer segments. Now they must go one step further by delivering the right experience to the right user at the right time while delivering relevant, customized experiences that meet individual user needs. This can only be done by combining historical, behavioral, and profile data with real-time situational feedback, but how many companies can truly do this well?
21 years ago, two ground breaking books were published about the changing retail environment and the development of the connected consumer. Pepper & Rodgers published “One to One Future” and Pine and Gilmore released “The Experience Economy”, and both of them predicted the future retail environment almost perfectly. In order to keep up, marketers and technology have to infuse in a way that will be difficult for many. It is now that the technology advances of big data, geo-fencing, WIFI, RFID, iBeacon, and yes, consumer’s own BYOD, that make the next years in marketing a storm of innovation, competition, and a rough ride for all. What can we do as a community to make the next years sail as smoothly as possible?