The speed at which technology is transforming the way that people shop is unprecedented. And there’s no sign of that pace slowing any time soon.
Across pretty much every sector you can think of, retailers are clamouring to put the latest innovations to good use in creating the deepest, most personalised and most effective customer experiences.
But that doesn’t mean that every new piece of tech is of use to every retailer. Now more than ever, it’s hugely important for customer experiences and journeys to be crafted and shaped, depending on the typical customers and demographics of each individual business. No two retailers are the same, after all.
Basic human nature means that people will react to different technologies in different ways, and so what might make sense from a business perspective might not do so for the customer. For an independent systems vendor, systems integrator or service provider, therefore, it’s crucial to understand these behavioural trends to deliver the right innovations to your clients.
Touchscreens trump desktops for pleasure purchases
A study by the University of British Columbia in Canada has found that online shoppers are more susceptible to making ‘impulse buys’ when using a touchscreen device like a smartphone than when using normal desktop computers.
As Ying Zhu, co-author of the study puts it: “The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers’ favour of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers’ preference for utilitarian products.”
This provides a clear pointer for retailers in how they want to organise their digital footprint, depending on whether their products are things that people ‘want’ or things that people ‘need’.
Voice commands get a muted reception
Many of us are used to the idea of saying ‘Hey, Siri’ or ‘OK, Google’ to make commands, but it’s emerging that enthusiasm for Voice Assistant Technology is far from universal.
According to a survey conducted by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), nearly a third of consumers in the United Kingdom don’t like using voice-based tools because they aren’t keen on broadcasting their desires and intentions to everyone around them.
Perhaps more tellingly, over half the surveyed sample have never used the tech and have no intention of doing so because they can’t see any benefit in it. So while it might seem forward-thinking to embrace voice activation, it appears that it’s solving a problem that, for the consumer at least, doesn’t exist.
Biometrics aren’t inspiring confidence
There are major developments at present towards enabling payments to be made using biometric data like facial recognition. But those developing these innovations have work to do to convince the public that methods involving such highly personal data can be trusted.
Global payments provider Paysafe has found that 40% of consumers feel that biometric solutions are currently too much of an unknown quantity to be used, while 30% of consumers have never even heard of the technology.
So sometimes, it pays (excuse the pun) to keep purchasing options simple and transparent. Doing so can increase customer trust in retail brands with knock-on positive effects on brand loyalty.
Security begins in the (smart) home
Much like biometrics, the increasing proliferation of smart and connected devices in the home is leaving consumers very cagey about possible privacy and security consequences.
Research conducted by MoneySupermarket in the UK has revealed that more than 40% of British consumers fear that their smart-home set-up will be hacked by criminals, plagued by viruses or will record their conversations and movements without their knowledge.
This means retailers need to strike a delicate balance between convenience and privacy when offering buying platforms through these devices. For example, will consumers feel confident enough to let their smart-fridge automatically re-order food without their eating habits being shared?
In-store tech can blind people with science
Many of the more progressive stores like to use new solutions to make the shopping experience easier for the customer, or to appear modern and tech-savvy. But it seems that these efforts may actually be counter-productive.
The National Retail Federation in the United States has discovered that in more than 50% of cases, using digital displays in-store or equipping staff with tablets and mobile devices either makes no impact on the shopping experience or actually makes it worse.
Never losing sight of the customer is critical. That’s why it’s important for retailers and their providing organisations to assess the practical benefit that employing in-store tech could have.
So what does all this mean from a provider/vendor perspective?
Consumers and their desires are constantly shifting elements that are difficult for any retailer to fully understand. But if you can help those retailers gain a clear understanding of what they can offer their customers, how they can communicate with those customers and how to benefit from the interaction, they’ll be far more likely to achieve a competitive advantage.
In a retail marketplace as competitive as it is today, exploiting the power of data can make the difference. And providers like you who can enable that for clients will ultimately be the ones that grow and prosper.
When you partner with IBM, you can leverage business-focused innovation to shape a consumer experience your retail clients will love.