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‘Future-Proof’ Your Brand for the Tech-Savvy Consumer

Yo, tell me what you want, what you really, really want!” — Spice Girls

Knowing what your customers want is crucial for any brand. Is your brand keeping up with all of the technological innovations that the tech-savvy customers of today have come to desire, and even expect? How do we know what the consumer wishes? Let's be honest; they're not always coming right-out and telling us.

Fortunately, this week, Elastic Path released a new data report entitled ‘The Sci-Fi Shopper: How to Future-Proof Your Brand for the New Consumer.’ The report compiles data from a survey of just over one-thousand consumers and three-hundred B2C marketing professionals about the expectations of digital commerce and how brands are performing. The report gives us an overview of what consumers are ‘liking’ and using when it comes to technology in digital commerce.

With statistics directly from the report, here is what consumers are using, or planning to use, measured up to which brands actually offer it:

Technology:


Customer Use/ Likely to Use:

Brands Who Offer:

Checkout-Less Payments

67%

18%

Voice Commerce

57%

23%

Smart Devices

58%

25%

Facial Recognition Technology

55%

20%

 

 Clearly, the numbers show that there is a significant disconnect between the technological features that customers want, and what is being provided to them by brands. The Sci-Fi Shopper report highlights what digital commerce elements the consumers desire and that there is ample opportunity for brands to take on those futuristic innovations.

The report affectionately recalls the beloved, futuristic television show of the past, ‘The Jetsons’, and relates our new, but very real tech existence to a time when ultramodern concepts were just the product of someone’s vivid imagination of highly-advanced, fictional worlds. Now, these ‘once out of reach’ innovations are available for brands to implement into their commerce and customer experience; thus it is critical for brands to get up-to-speed and remain current in order to ‘future-proof’ their brands.

I connected with Darin Archer, CMO of Elastic Path, to discuss the report and obtain some in-depth observations about its findings.

What really stands out from the report is that shoppers are looking for a more ‘futuristic’ experience—such as voice commerce and facial recognition. What industries are at the forefront of implementing these types of futuristic technologies?

“It makes sense that technology companies that own their own voice assistants have been some of the first to launch this functionality. However, we’re seeing brands in food and beverage, and CPG (consumer packaged goods) push the envelope as well.  And their efforts are not going unnoticed as our research found consumer appetite for voice commerce is highest in these categories. Sixty-nine percent of shoppers would purchase groceries via voice, and sixty-seven percent said the same of health and beauty. What remains to be seen is how CPG brands, in particular, find ways to carve out business for themselves via voice without disrupting their presence or success selling on Amazon Alexa.” 

How can brands ensure that their new commerce technologies aren’t only trendy and futuristic, but also making their customers’ commerce experience more convenient?

“Brands have to enable high-quality, consistent commerce experiences across all touchpoints to make the customer commerce experience more convenient.  Enabling voice commerce is not enough if there is a significant gap between a customer’s voice commerce experience, their e-commerce experience and their in-store physical commerce experience with the brand. 
 
The idea behind voice commerce is that it’s supposed to make the entire purchase experience entirely seamless — the customer shouldn’t even know they’re making a purchase. As soon as that illusion is broken with a clunky or off-brand experience, the brand will lose that moment with the shopper. Our research found that 37% of consumers didn’t shop on voice more often because the process was riddled with errors and miscommunications. But all hope is not lost. Those consumers that do regularly use voice are hooked — 22% shop on voice, multiple times per week. The lesson for brands here is that voice commerce can make a big impact on the customer experience, and their purchase frequency if the experience offered is seamless, easy, and helpful.”

In the report, you mention that by 2020, brands must know their customer. This includes easy sign-in and profile management, knowing customers’ address and payment information, and connecting the dots on purchase history across channels. How can brands proactively take steps to get to this ‘360-degree view’ of each customer”?

“Brands need to put the customer at the center of their activities, and to do this often requires a new commerce and technology architecture.  We know that an API-centric headless commerce solution that decouples the commerce experience from the backend is the only way brands can move all the data out of the traditional silos and ensure they have a 360-degree view of their customers. As an example, when a customer comes into a T-Mobile store, the rep there will have all the information about what that customer has previously purchased online, the questions they’ve asked when previously in store, and the calls they’ve made to Customer Support staff. When armed with this data, in-store sales staff, in that moment, can provide the best customer experience around. This type of experience is only possible when powered by headless commerce.”

The report mentions that “64% of marketers are planning to use a headless commerce strategy.” How can a headless commerce model allow brands to increase individualized customer experiences?

“By having that 360-degree view of their customers, brands can personalize customer experiences across all touchpoints and ensure that the commerce experience becomes almost invisible.  While brands seem to understand the value of personalization, consumers are looking to brands to go beyond just marketing communications with those efforts. Elastic Path research found 60% of marketers are personalizing their marketing communication using customer data, and 55% use direct feedback from customers to improve their customer experience. But, only about one-quarter (24%) personalize their in-store experiences based on that data. Even more troubling, fewer than half personalize their websites.

A good example of individualized customer experiences is what Carnival Cruises provides with their Medallion technology that enables personalized service delivery at scale. Cruise customers are given a medallion when they board the ship, and every purchase they make after that is automatically charged to their account. No credit cards, bills, or coins necessary. It also enables Carnival to personalize every interaction they have with their customers, allowing vacationers to maximize their time and enjoyment while on board.” 

My Key Takeaways from the Report

  • 53% of consumers say privacy is the number one deterrent from adopting new technology.

  • 81% of consumers haven’t tried voice commerce. The early adopters are showing a proclivity for it, with 22% of those who have tried voice commerce using it multiple times per week and 21% using it at least weekly.

  • Brands are not recognizing the extent of the pain points their customers are enduring in  their commerce experience:

Pain Point:


Customers Who Experience This:


Brands Who Believe this is a Pain Point:

Long Checkout Lines

57%

35%

Out-of-Stock Inventory

55%

32%

Long Wait Times for Customer Service

42%

36%

Unhelpful / Uninformed Store Associates

38%

20%

 

There is an apparent disconnect between what customers are experiencing and what brands realize as an issue.

  • Of all the customers and marketers included in the survey, customers rated how futuristic brand retail experiences are at a four out of ten, while marketers gave a rating of seven out of ten. This shows us that there is lots of room for improved advancement with technology in commerce, and consumers are more than ready for it. The future is now, and it is time to future-proof your brand.

Ending Notes

With new commerce advancements such as AI and voice commerce, it is essential to remember that the goal should be to make the process effortless. The latest innovations aim to make the commerce experience more convenient—not just about using the newest, flashiest technology without any real benefit to the customer.

Today’s ‘Sci-Fi Shoppers’ are ready for the new and exciting technologies that are now within our grasp. It is time for us marketers and developers to stay on—and ahead of—the trends to ensure our brands are ‘future-proof’.

For these insights and more, get your copy of “The Sci-Fi Shopper: How to Future Proof Your Brand for the New Consumer” here.

 
 
Erika Jones

Erika Jones

Erika Jones is a Tech Reporter and Content Marketer with CMSC Media. Erika enjoys combining her creativity with her technical skills through graphic design. She has a background in communications and marketing and has a flair for social media and content creation. Erika is an avid traveller and enjoys seeing firsthand how technology connects us all in business and pleasure.

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