The rise of e-commerce has blurred the fine line between offline and online experience, by providing customers with the choices of where, how, and when to shop. Companies have to leverage deep customer insights and understand the change in behavior w.r.t their deeply ingrained habits.
One of the surveys by EY Future Consumer Index indicates that 42 percent of customers accepted the fundamental changes in their behavior and looking forward to the way, the retail industry is adapting to these changes and coming up with lasting shifts. Behavioral science explains that to influence consumers in long run, businesses should shape the emerging habits with new offerings.
To thrive in the next normal, it’s important to decode the behavior of the target market, their beliefs, their peak moments, their habits and develop experience and communications accordingly.
Technology is the Leading Driver
Every change is driven by technology as every consumer is living in the world of apps and websites. Customers spend almost their entire day on Google, Facebook, Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube, Amazon, living their digital lives.
According to Statista, “The number of smartphone users across the world in 2021 has grown to 6.38 billion from 3.67 billion in 2016”.
To stay competitive in the market, retailers have to transform themselves in this digital space to shape the future of retail. Certain brands have already adopted strategies like ‘try and buy’ to reduce the need for ‘touch and feel’. For fast-track digital transformation 5G has the potential to engage customers with an immersive experience with robots and autonomous vehicles like Safeway (driverless cart), serves robotics (delivery robot for Uber), Walmart (fully autonomous truck), and more.
Having an online business, or offline existence is something not going to work in the future, there needs to be a synchronization between e-commerce and POS and businesses have to adapt technology as an opportunity for improvement.
Omnichannel commerce is the new mandate and it has made even service industries to re-look at customers’ journeys and re-innovate to serve customers better.
Compared to the traditional demand forecasting method, it’s time to add personalization and forecast the demand by deep learning and machine learning techniques to have a more accurate forecast and increased adaptability to change.
Robotics in retail has made their space by showing their relevance in the coming future like Hyundai (DAL-e) for customer safety and SmartSight for inventory management. The future demands for innovation to stay relevant with evolving consumer behavior.
What, Where, When, and How Customers Want
Businesses have to accept the reality which says ‘the pandemic is unprecedented’ or ‘customer behavior is changing’, and the ‘changes emerged are going to persist’.
Customers have lifted the bar of expectations because they are always using technology, they are placing orders from the bathroom, they are obsessed with convenience and on top of that, they don’t want hiccups as they say ‘we have paid for it’. And, thus made companies look for ways to successfully market their products giving experience and convenience the utmost priority.
Recent Trends in Consumer Behavior
It’s the era of ‘everything delivered’. The products that are traditionally bought in stores have too switched to an online mode like eyeglasses (Lenskart), groceries (Instacart), plants (Mybageecha). An inclination has been observed towards environment-friendly products and brands that act ethically.
In one of the recent surveys, it was found that “32 percent of US and UK consumers would pay more for the same product if that product came from an ethical brand”.
Implementation of flexible payment options by retailers is in high demand, be it through debit card, credit card, QR code, PayPal payment, BNPL, or more.
The subscription model is the new era of e-retail businesses to avoid high churn rates and accelerate both growth and profitability.
Challenges in Decoding Consumer Behavior
In this highly volatile and unpredictable world, tracking real-time consumer activity and creating a 360-degree engagement is not an easy task. The strategic decision w.r.t consumer behavior insights are highly influenced by ‘data’.
Government agencies and customers have become more stringent in terms of the data collection process. In one recent announcement by Google, it is stated that “deprecating third-party cookies by early 2023 will lead to a major data loss for organizations”.
Businesses have to engage with today’s hyper-aware customers with uninterrupted multichannel support where self-service chatbots failed to engage intelligently.
The future lies in cracking the code and creating new possibilities on black canvas.