This is the final third article in our series of blogs about trends in consumer behaviour. This time we will explore how new technologies and innovations impacted expectations of modern consumers and how these might change in 5 years' time.
On August 11th 1994, a Sting Album became the first ever online purchase. 5 years later, a 1999 study looked into consumer attitudes when it came to ‘Internet based e-shopping’. What made someone more likely to purchase online?
Price – no surprise there, very much a mirror of the offline decision making process
Network speed – remember the days when it was impossible to stay online long enough to make a transaction?
Security - the fear of fraud was very real and security concerns were high. A retailer that met these concerns would fare well
Shopping Experience – in this case, the ability of a retailer to replicate the ‘touch and feel’ experience instore was key
That last one was to shape the decisions of online retailers for the coming years. Throughout the noughties retailers fought to make their sites faster, with better delivery, more intuitive design, clearer product imagery… So a consumer now expects what?
Fast Delivery – Or Collection – Amazon led the way offering ease-and-speed of purchase. They patented the one click purchase, so that now other retailers must license it from Amazon. And other retailers did license it, because the Amazon experience had shown shoppers that they could have one click purchase.
Next came the improvement to distribution centres to allow delivery times to fall significantly. Today, retailers like Appliances Online and Schuh even offer same day delivery.
Click-and-Collect is part of the arsenal of any retailer that’s serious about the multi-channel shopping experience. Not only can you pick up your items from the store – but many retailers now allow you to nominate a nearby petrol station or supermarket to get your goods from.
Consumers no longer expect to have to wait for their parcels – they want them delivered at speed and at ease.
Personalised marketing – Consumers are sensitive about their data being collected – but still expect the emails that flood their inbox or the ads that line their social profiles to at least speak to them. Econsultancy reported that personalised offers and marketing was the third biggest factor in persuading customers to make a repeat purchase. We reward brands that know what we want and serve us with the means to buy it.
Instant Customer Service – the first person to type an irate message out to a brand on their social profile has a lot to answer for. Consumers soon latched on to the fact that suddenly, when it came to customer service, they had the power. What business would want their online shop window branded with messages as to how they’d let previous customers down?
Now, not only do consumers expect their misery to be met with an answer around the clock, but savvy brands have started providing ‘queue time’ direct on their profiles to let them know when they can expect an answer. Goodbye cruel hold music!!
This all sounds fairly reasonable to us now. But what might we expect in 5 years’ time? Are we about to get a whole lot…needier?
Immediate Delivery – Again, it’s Amazon leading the way. Not only have they been experimenting with drones (yes - drones) to get packages to people in 30 minutes or less. Now they’ve put a patent on anticipatory shipping. So, in the future, they might plan to deliver products to a customer before they’ve even ordered it. This is data analysis at the next level – Amazon were one of the first to develop a sophisticated ‘things you might also like’ algorithm, and this is them taking it to the nth degree. In the future, might consumers be irked that they hadn’t already received a product they’d just seen?
Personalised products - what if, instead of lusting after a label, consumers only wanted their own designs. More and more brands have cottoned on to the fact that people will pay more for something if they’ve felt part of its development. You can now design your own Converse, Nike, Asics… You can design a whole new pair of shoes, if you so desire, at Shoesofprey.com. Does Mink, the 3D printer that allows you to print your own make-up, nod to the future? In the future, will consumers demand an active role in the creation of their products?
Immediate Face to Face Customer Service – We thought Skype was designed to take the sting out of a long distance relationship. But what if you could use your webcam to get face-to-face interaction with customer service representatives immediately. Fiat, for example, hosted a ‘Live Store’, accessible by their website, allowing customers to connect with the showrooms. The staff were geared up with head-mounted cameras, allowing them to take customers on a journey to explore the vehicles. The new Amazon Fire smartphone allows users to connect directly with customer service through the ‘Mayday’ button and boasts a 9.75 second response time. In the future we may well be demanding our questions are met with face-to-face interaction the moment they arise.
There’s no doubt that technological advances have increased the demands of the average consumer. Just think how challenging we’re all going to get down the road.