Keeping ahead of the connected consumer
Drawing the customer journey is almost impossible today, because the idea implies that the customers know where they are going, and have a route planned to get there. In reality, even if they know what they want, they are jumping from channel to channel to achieve this – and this causes a huge headache for retailers.
The biggest challenge with meeting the needs of these connected customers is keeping up with the lightening pace at which they move. This is because most retailers are trying to service the needs of incredibly agile shoppers with restrictive, outdated technology and processes. The customer’s capability to move across all channels has far outgrown the retail organisation’s ability to run at the same pace.
The connected customer curve
For every retailer, there will be variation in the way their audience behaves. Some will move in a linear and predictable fashion; others will be highly connected, I-want-everything-now shoppers. And somewhere in between, there are consumers that interact with retailers in a seemingly random way as they explore, research, deliberate and purchase, moving between digital and physical channels en route to their decision.
So how are retailers responding to this complexed and varied landscape? Not aggressively enough, in my opinion.
That’s not say retail businesses are not making efforts to meet the needs of the connected consumer; many have integrated new technologies to their existing ecosystem, or overlaid fresh processes to extract new functionality for the existing systems they have in place.
However, the connected consumer is a radically different type of shopper to what has gone before, and therefore only radical change can adequately meet their needs. Retailers have to move faster than them, so they can be ready and waiting at the next point of interaction – wherever and whatever that may be.
To achieve this, they have to stop thinking that tiny tweaks will do, and instead innovate their entire business infrastructure to enable greater agility. Now this may sound like an insurmountable task at first, but there are companies in the retail market today that can completely transform technology and the processes driving it in a single project. A project that can be fully deployed and generating real change in a matter of months.
And those retailers that are bold enough to think big will be rewarded on two fronts. Firstly, they won’t waste money and resources on fine tuning processes and systems that are no longer fit for purpose. Instead, they will have a truly agile, scalable infrastructure in place that will take them well into the future. Secondly, they will be able to better service shoppers’ needs, which makes them more likely to convert sales opportunities and nurture customer loyalty.
They say that fortune favours the brave, and in the world of the connected consumer, the rewards for the brave retailers are big. By enabling greater flexibility through innovation, organisations willing to invest in the bigger picture will be able to race ahead to where their customer wants to go next – while throwing down the ‘catch me if you can’ gauntlet to their nearest rivals.