No matter where you look, there’s no avoiding news of the next big innovation. With innovation, comes change; and with change, challenges. Keeping up with this change is not easy, especially if you run a legacy business with well-defined business models and big investments backing those models. Business leaders we have spoken with tell us that their biggest fear is that consumers are changing faster than their businesses can keep up. It doesn’t help that there are so many startups, with no baggage and millions of dollars in investor funds who are looking to disrupt your business!
So how do you keep ahead of this continually evolving consumer? While there are no easy answers, we’ve spoken to hundreds of successful retail companies and what we’ve learnt is that it all boils down to being able to create experiences that are easy, personalized and omnichannel. Let’s look at these a little more closely:
Consumers today live in what we call the Easyverse™, an easy universe where they expect everything to just work and for companies to know them. This is a world of ordering cabs by just pushing a button or getting the meal of your choice delivered to you where and when you want it. These easy experiences are setting new standards of expectation and no matter what business you are in, these are what consumers are benchmarking their experience with your business against. From an experiences POV, your competitive set has expanded dramatically!
In this Easyverse, consumers are also getting used to experiences that are highly personalized. The explosion in AI and ML based technologies has increasingly made this commonplace and everything from what you see on websites and apps, to the campaigns you see on social and on your mobile are increasingly getting hyper personalized. This is a great way to ensure easy experiences and something that no business can ignore anymore.
Today, the lines between digital and physical are rapidly blurring. Consumers are using a multiplicity of channels to interact with brands and businesses. At last count this varied between a minimum of 6 to as many as 13 channels and across all of these channels, consumers expect a connected experience. I visited the Hema store by Alibaba in Shanghai recently and as a beacon for new retail, they have brought to life the concept of omnichannel. You can order on your mobile and pick up, or order in store and get it delivered by the time you get home, scan products in store to get detailed information, check out using your app, pay with facial recognition and so on. Getting omnichannel right could be the difference between explosive growth and irrelevance.
To stay ready for the consumer, getting these three key aspects right is important and we’ve identified four building blocks that can help you get these right. It all begins with getting a deep understanding of your consumers, using the right technology to leverage the insights to enable personalized engagement, creating an ecosystem that allows for consumers to transact with your brand when and where they want to and finally, create a relationship with them by recognizing and rewarding them in a truly personalized way.
We believe that there’s a new retail renaissance that’s underway and companies that get the elements of transformation right are going to see a new era of growth. As a key technology player in this ecosystem, we feel it is our responsibility to help foster this transformation and so are working towards building a community of business leaders and experts who can inspire each other and drive the industry towards getting consumer ready. The first meet up is planned at Singapore on November 21st at the #Ready event, where over 20 expert speakers and over 200 CxOs are coming together to kick off the conversation. We invite you to join in this conversation!