Tag: omnichannel

Omnichannel Isn’t Dead, It’s Evolved

Online purchase

When people say “omnichannel is dead”, they could be referring to its earlier form in which the concept of having a seamless physical and digital shop was still somewhat abstract. Meaning, back then businesses went ahead and bombarded consumers with a variety of engagement and shopping options for ubiquity — a.k.a app creation social media strategy — without substantial consumer insight. 

But as data, which has captured consumer behavior, accumulate and technologies such as AR and AI progress, omnichannel is transforming from a channel-centric into a truly customer-centric activity, where technologies are employed strategically or according to the revealed and expressed consumer behaviors and expectations across channels.

Why filter out the noise and pursue omnichannel maturity? Because as revealed by a study of 46,000 shoppers, today’s as well as tomorrow’s consumers are omnichannel shoppers:

  • 7% Online-only 
  • 20% Store-only
  • 73% Multiple channel or omnichannel 

When consumers are married to their screens

… it’s an invitation for you to treat them to great content and a remarkable shopping experience.

As consumer screen time increases (79% report an increase in the past five years), so do your communication and engagement opportunities. You can even talk to consumers (and vice versa) the moment they wake up, as according to TechTimes, 46% check their phones before getting out of bed.

What’s more, you can communicate with them not just through one device, not just two, but several, because  switching between at least three devices is the daily batting average of 90% of consumers. 

Because of this trend, 84% of marketers believe that having a comprehensive cross-device strategy is now a must in order to successfully convert these consumers into customers.

Here are other notable screen time (particularly smartphone and shopping-related) numbers:

  • 71% of shoppers believe that smartphone usage in-store is an important part of the experience
  • 56% of consumers use their mobile device for product research at home
  • 38% perform inventory availability check on their way to a store  
  • 58% continue their product research in-store

One actionable insight from these numbers for store owners is Wi-Fi provision. Why? For today’s smartphone addicted generation it should be a basic provision, plus with great content, you could actually leverage your visitors’ phones as your savviest sales associate. Also, according to a Displaydata/Planet Retail RNG report, nearly half of consumers (42%) tag lack of in-store Wi-Fi as poor experience. 

When consumers are showing you where the money is

… they’re willing to give it to you in exchange for something.

What’s great about today’s consumers is how proactive they are in letting brands know — and the rest of the world, too — how upset or pleased they are with an experience. 

And it’s usually companies with omnichannel strategies that please consumers. According to V12, these companies enjoy:

  • Retention – 89% of customers are retained by companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies
  • Loyalty – 51% will be loyal to retailers with consistent service and experience

The survey also asked consumers, 

Do you notice when you get a different experience from the same retailer when you shop with them through different ways, for example, either between online and in-store, between stores or between a call center and store?” 

And 61% said that they do.

So, aside from consistency, what are consumers asking for? As per BRP some of the most common items in the omnichannel shopper wish list include:

  • 62% availability of product reviews and ratings
  • 64% recognition and personalization based on saved purchase history and personal preferences
  • 73% ability to track orders across touch points 
  • 68% automated returns process

Delivery and pickup options are also popular:

  • 50% free delivery 
  • 73% in-store pickup

A preview of the omnichannel of the future with AR and AI-voice

Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that omnichannel is “evolving” rather than it’s “evolved”, because new and innovative ways to shop will be introduced to the market as technology progresses. 

A recent example is Honda’s Dream Drive program, in which drivers are encouraged to use the car’s connected dashboard not just to navigate, get entertained, but also make purchases. To pull this off, Honda is partnering with various retailers and content providers. 

[Source: Honda]

AR

Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) is an emerging trillion dollar industry. Leading the way in the furniture industry is IKEA with its Place AR app:

[Source: IKEA]

Never before in history has furniture shopping been this fun, educational and convenient!

Mastercard is also getting in the AR shopping scene with physical trait recognition, instant information, personalized recommendations and secure and seamless payments offerings in-store using ODG’s R-9 smartglasses. 

[Source: Mastercard]

The medical/education industry is also in on the game powered by Microsoft HoloLens. Learning anatomy will never be as engaging, safe, ethical and effective as with interactive holograms.

[Source: Case]

AI-Powered Voice Technology

This year, 2019, the voice recognition market is pegged at $601 million, but by 2022 it’s projected to reach $40 billion. Still in their young days, Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod are presently sitting, listening and learning in 32% of American homes. Pretty soon voice assistant technologies such as Amazon Alexa for Business, Microsoft Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise, Google Assistant and IBM Watson Assistant would be a fixture in call centers, self-service systems and brick-and-mortar stores. 

[Source: Amazon]

[Source: Microsoft]

Omnichannel customer experience is the future of retail and commerce. Perhaps it’s time to kill off the idea that omnichannel will ever die, as evidenced by emerging technologies and their power to bring even the craziest ideas to life, and just focus on providing consumers with consistent A-grade offerings across all channels. 

 

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Fashion Influencer

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Why the fashion industry should be optimistic about the future and embrace upcoming challenges.

The heyday of fashion is over. This is how a lot of fashion companies in Europe and the US feel, following global issues such as Brexit, current US-China trade disputes and the rise of protectionism on both sides of the Atlantic.

On top of those, a lot of powerful players in the Asian region have left behind their cheap supplier role to directly and confidently challenge their European and American counterparts. And not only are they winning, they’re dominating their domestic markets.

Meanwhile, according to McKinsey´s State of Fashion 2019, emerging new markets such as India and China are developing at a rapid pace and overtaking the established ones.

While India currently has the highest growth rate, China, on the other hand, is now the world’s largest fashion market – ahead of the US.

Source: McKinsey, State of Fashion 2019, p. 26

In today, out tomorrow

Once upon a time, fashion manufacturers dictated how often collections come out and limited them to two a year. Nowadays, consumers not only expect something new all the time, but they drive current trends primarily via social media.

The power of the consumer influencer

Gone are the days when brands rule fashion from up their ivory tower, as today’s consumers have taken over. Self-confident and knowledgeable, millennials and generation Z tell brands what, where, how and when they want something.

Thanks to Amazon, they’re also used to not having to wait long. They use digital channels as a matter of course and have access to a multitude of product information, offerings and inspirations.

Thus, they have usually already made a purchasing decision long before they appear on the radar of companies.

They often don’t even get their inspiration from fashion labels and retailers, but from prominent social media influencers and opinionated peers, with emotional experience as the trigger.

The importance of brand presentation

If today’s consumers are both online and offline and on different channels, it’s essential for fashion brands to ensure a consistent brand image and product presentation on all touch points.

Although the work can be challenging, technologies such as Product Information Management (PIM) can help to centrally manage product data and deliver it to the right touch point – without spending too much time on manual work.

A PIM also has analytics tools that can provide insight into consumer behavior. With this, fashion companies are empowered to deliver a consistent product and brand experience to potential customers and influencers.

Digital channels as game changers

 

Source: McKinsey & Company analysis based on Instagram data, State of Fashion 2019, p 73

Social Media, whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube or WeChat, is the new showroom. Therefore, “digital first” should be a top priority for all businesses that want to be successful — big fashion brands, start-ups and niche providers, alike.

But unlike established brands, the newcomers are not slowed down by rigid business processes. The small challengers, in particular, are posting through the roof fan base growth rates of up to 300%.

With the help of new technologies, concepts and business models, they react quickly to market conditions and focus on customer interaction.

For them, e-commerce is the way to go, but in addition to their own shops, they also rely on the diverse possibilities of social and mobile commerce to reach consumers on the spot.

Among others, Patagonia uses Pinterest to increase sales opportunities and awareness

Sustainability and trust

In recent years, ethical resource management and humanitarian and social values have increasingly become decision-making criteria for consumers on whether to trust a brand or not.

Whether it’s the collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh or the burning of unsold collections somewhere else – various scandals involving global brands have left their mark on consumers.

Sustainability, fairness and transparency also play an important role in gaining trust, especially for the millennials and Generation Z.

According to McKinsey´s “State of Fashion 2019 Consumer Shifts”, more than a third of consumers include these points in their purchasing decisions: choice of materials, traceability of the value chain, uniform information and the sustainable use of products.

This can be an opportunity to realign the brand, examine new business areas and show a clear attitude with a consistent appearance. In addition, new technologies such as blockchain can help to document the supply chain seamlessly in the future.

Everlane pursues a sustainable approach and relies heavily on social media.

Using digital technologies

The path of the customer from first contact to purchase or the customer journey consists of a number of contact points. It’s almost impossible to maintain each point manually and, at the same time, provide consistent information.

But systems for the central maintenance, administration and output of product information, copy and media data, such as images and videos, can help to simplify this task enormously.

Analytics and product experience management tools also make it possible to get to know consumers better and provide them with relevant information at the right time.

E-commerce systems, mobile shopping apps, sophisticated search functions and recommendation tools make it as easy as possible for customers to find the product they want and make the purchase.

Partner platforms such as Amazon, Zalando and Otto increase the reach, and social media increases awareness, customer loyalty and the desire to buy.

There’s a lot of opportunities and chances, as well as challenges to tackle in the “Year of Awakening”, as McKinsey´s newest “State of Fashion 2019” calls it. So, it’s time to get down to business with agility, speed and new business ideas.

5 Customer Experience Trends to Watch Out For in 2019

People are people. Meaning, they live and breathe emotions, and no matter which environment or age they find themselves in, feelings will be involved in their decision-making. This is an undeniable reality across industries, hence, the dominance of customer experience on trend lists in the past five years. It’s a top trend that doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon, as evidenced by 81% of marketers saying they’re expecting to compete solely on the battlefields of customer experience in the next couple of years.

So, as 2018 draws to a close, what are the customer experience-related trends to watch out for in 2019?

Rise of Insights-Driven Organizations

With all the available technology to capture and process data, only 10% of organizations are insight-driven. But that’s about to change, as insights-driven businesses are posed to steal $1.2 trillion worth of revenue in 2020. According to Forrester, these disruptors of disruptors have a clear set of goals, which are to win, serve and retain customers. Pioneers of which are Google, Baidu and Netflix.

Key capabilities of an insight-driven organization:

  • Democratize insights or the ability to not just make insights available across the enterprise via an insight database, but also disseminate and transmit them fast.  
  • Experiment or continuous and iterative learning mindset. It’s a culture of testing and development that is essential for growing and future-proofing the business.
  • Close the loop or ability to hear and rapidly act on customers’ feedback.

Steady Climb of Automation and AI/ML in Industry Transformation

The groundwork for automation and artificial intelligence/machine (AI/ML) have been set and early adopters are already seeing positive results in terms of revenue and profit. May it be at home or in the workplace, IDC said that 75% of workers have interacted with at least one AI/ML built-in application in 2018 (e.g. Siri, Alexa and Slack/Skype chatbots). In 2019, these AI/ML interactions are expected to level-up to intelligent digital assistants. IDC also predicts that it’s about to move to mainstream industry-wide use to the tune of $77.6 billion worth of spending in 2022.

3 uses of AI/ML across industries:

  • Robots in retail/hospitality. Softbank’s humanoid-robot Pepper has been test-deployed all over the world to see how businesses can use this AI-powered assistant to serve customers. During its test-runs, Pepper had been a concierge for dealership customers, a hotel check-in assistant, and more. A store in Palo Alto tech shop reported a 70% increase in foot traffic in the week that Pepper was there. In 2019, Amazon is launching its own version, “Vesta”, which might be an evolution of Alexa.
  • Predictive analytics in manufacturing/supply chain, medicine/healthcare and fashion/beauty. Google attempted to predict the likelihood of a patient’s death using 200 thousand patients and more than 46 billion data points, and came away with an astonishing 95% accuracy. Top makeup brand, Shiseido, used ML to find out what customers might want next and offer truly personalized recommendations. In manufacturing and supply chain, the potential of predictive analytics is enormous. It’s a landscape projected to be worth $9 billion by 2020, as it opens up opportunities in the areas of demand forecasting, pricing, maintenance and after-sales optimization services.
  • Cognitive intelligence in energy/mining. To ensure seamless autonomous operation and minimize guesswork in port scheduling, transportation, drilling and planning, these industries use cognitive computing. Using an airplane cockpit-like platform, a machine operator gets cues from a system that learns actions and gives real-time feedback.

Not Cloud Overhead, but Everywhere

The projected global public cloud spending for 2019 will reach $200 billion, as enterprises race to upgrade their processes and mine insights out of their piles of accumulated data. According to Forrester, cloud computing will be the foundation of future enterprise applications, as businesses strive to deliver compelling product and customer experiences.

Top cloud trends:

  • Hybrid/multi-cloud solutions. Businesses are learning that the best cloud solution is a blend of public and private, or as 85% of enterprises prefer nowadays, a mix of at least eight clouds.
  • Integrated IaaS and PaaS. The growth of the infrastructure-as-a-service (Iaas), which is expected to reach $39.5 billion in 2019 is a direct result of enterprise digital transformation undertakings. But according to Gartner, the days of Iaas-only are numbered, as 90% of organizations that will be buying Iaas will expect providers to have it integrated with their platform-as-a-service (PaaS) by 2022.
  • Quantum computing. The race is on to come up with the best quantum platform to outdo the world’s fastest supercomputers. Industries such as financial, automotive, pharmaceutical, gaming and even government agencies are very interested in the potentials of this technology. Top players so far are IBM, Google and Microsoft.

Welcome Voice Search/Commerce

By 2020, at least 50% of all searches are going to be through speech, according to Andrew Ng, formerly of Baidu and Google. He also mentioned images, but voice search is fast gaining traction on mobile, especially among the 16-44 year olds. On top of that, the GlobalWebIndex Voice Search Report also revealed that 34% of Internet users are keen on buying a voice-controlled smart assistants.

Implications of voice commerce in marketing:

  • SEO. Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update uses context and intent/semantic and natural language in delivering results. It’s the perfect foundation for the inevitable rise of voice search. It’s, therefore, important for marketers to survey what their target is using voice search for, so they can adapt their voice ad strategy and content accordingly.
  • Hyper-local content. Voice searchers are mostly done on mobile, meaning searchers are on the go and intend to go somewhere close when they search. This is the perfect opening for local businesses to increase visibility according to proximity.
  • Customer experience. Smart speakers are expected to be in nearly 50% of American households by 2019. And as these AI-powered solution learns (it continuously listens), consumers’ experiences with it will be more refined, convenient and enjoyable. For now, 70% of consumers use it mainly to play music, 64% to listen to weather forecast and 53% to get random answers to random questions.

Crown “Video” King of Content

There’s no other content that businesses and consumers, alike, enthusiastically consume more than video, and by 2019, it will comprise 80% of worldwide Internet traffic. This is one of the most controversial trends in the last couple of years, when organizations, mostly publications, made a “pivot to video” influenced by Facebook metrics. But scandal aside, video has proven to be that special vehicle that brings brands closer to consumers through storytelling, evidenced by 93% of marketers using video to boost their campaigns.

Video effectivity by the numbers:

So, there you have it. Just five of the most noteworthy customer experience-related trends worth exploring in 2019. And as it’s a new year, it’s always an open door for your business to turn over a new leaf. With all the opportunities presented by new technology, it’s perhaps time for your business to try out something new. As Albert Einstein famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

Customer Experience

Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/people-at-work/6m2qd/article24697967.ece

The Pivotal Role of Product Experience in Customer Experience Delivery

The Pivotal Role of Product Experience in Customer Experience Delivery

What is product experience? And how can it help businesses succeed in their efforts to provide their customers with a remarkable customer experience?

In 2016, the buzzword in retail circles, “omnichannel”, reached its peak. It dominated conversations at every turn as decision-makers scrambled to find solutions that would enable them to blend all their online and offline touch points, creating a unified and seamless customer experience.

Fast-forward to the present, as more and more companies reach their digital transformation maturity, the conversations are now circling around “on-demand” in which experiences, not channels, reign supreme.

There are, understandably, a lot of theories and strategies out there on how to best provide customers with the best experiences, as there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but there’s one often neglected customer experience component that businesses should start taking advantage of should they want to standout and eventually gain customer loyalty: product experience.

What is Product Experience?

“Product experience”, from the customers’ point-of-view, according to IGI Global, is “the entire set of effects that is elicited by the interaction between a user and a product, including: (1) The degree to which all our senses are gratified (aesthetic experience); (2) The meanings we attach to the product (experience of meaning); (3) The feelings and emotions that are elicited (emotional experience).”

One global brand that deeply understands the importance of product experience in the grand scheme of customer experience delivery is Coca-Cola.

See, the entry of generations Y and Z in the market posted an existential threat to a brand that’s selling an unhealthy product. If they’re not able to effectively market to these huge demographics, a.k.a. their future customers, their product is going to go down. But it looks like Coke isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, because as of 2018, it’s still one of the world’s most loved and valued brands at $79.96 billion USD.

Their secret? Smart positioning. Coca-Cola simply stopped selling Coke as a product, but instead repositioned it as a creator of positive experiences in their advertising campaigns.

This viral video from their “Happiness Machine” campaign is just an example of how Coke is using product experience to support their overall customer experience activities:

But what does product experience mean in digitally-enabled touchpoints?

Let’s take an example from e-commerce. When it comes to browsing or shopping online, a positive product experience (from the customer’s point-of-view) may begin with seeing accurate, consistent and complete product information on their screens.

Say, there’s a customer that wanted to purchase the latest TV model and thought of browsing online for options.

Note that customers, on average, visit three to five websites before contacting a sales representative to get more information or make a purchase.

Their journey went something like this:

  • They visited five sites on their laptop and discovered that only three of these sites have complete, accurate, and consistent product information on their product. They eliminated two and are now down to three prospects.
  • They forwarded the information from these three sites to their partner’s mobile for them to check out in store. Upon arrival to the store, the partner was greeted with conflicting information. One of the brand’s online information is inconsistent with the one in store. It could be the price, feature, promo, etc., but the point is the customer was presented with inaccurate information. The customer eliminated two more prospects and is now left with one brand; the one that took the time out to get all its facts right and available in a consistent manner, online and offline.
  • The customer makes the purchase.

Because the brand took the time out to give their prospective customers a nice product experience, not only were they able to close the sale, but they’ve also most likely won an advocate. That diligent brand would definitely be top of mind when someone else asks for their recommended TV brand.

But that’s an ideal scenario.

In the real world, what commonly happens is a customer makes a purchase online to take advantage of a sale or a discount, for example, only to find out that they were debited the regular amount.

Here, regardless of the price, the customer would immediately feel that they were wronged and instantly tag the e-commerce site as unreliable and untrustworthy.

What could’ve likely caused the discrepancy?

It could be that the information displayed on the e-commerce site was out-dated. That the sale or promo was only good for a limited time, and customers would be charged the regular price when the period lapsed. Now, whether or not the customer was given a refund, after, isn’t the main issue. The issue is they’ve just been treated to a regrettably negative experience, which not only means no repeat business, but a tarnished reputation. What’s more is this irate customer would definitely tell their community about their bad experience.

Can disastrous outcomes like this be prevented?

4 Product Experience Must-Haves

The product experience arena is winnable. In today’s business landscape, companies who are serious in their customer experience efforts can no longer afford to overlook excellence in product experience, because failure at it could end the customer journey.

So, what are the essentials of a great product experience delivery?

  1. Accuracy – The provision of correct product information is the cornerstone of digital retail, because, simply put, inaccuracy turns customers off, drives businesses away and wastes a lot of money. The true cost of incorrect product information may be unknown, but Americans in 2016 returned $260 billion worth of goods bought online. Although the returns were due to various reasons, one of those reasons could be incorrect or lack of product information.
  2. Consistency – A standard is essential in creating awareness as well as building trust and loyalty. That’s why brands need consistency in messaging, imaging and so on. The same is true with product experience delivery in e-commerce. If a company, for example, has multiple suppliers for a single item and receives information and images in different formats, then a single format must be set and implemented across the board, so what the customer sees is uniformity, not chaos.
  3. Completeness – There is no doubt that customers today are savvy shoppers. They research and line up choices before zeroing in on a product or service. A smart business would provide them with all the information they need in one place and not shy away from letting them know of their offering’s limitations. Businesses need to even go as far as give recommendations or provide education, in the name of great customer service.
  4. Relevance – If customers don’t see exactly what they’re looking for upon landing on a page, they will quickly switch to another. Relevance, here, is a matter of getting straight to the point and not wasting people’s time. Another function of relevance is upselling. By providing customers with suggestions relevant to their search, businesses have a golden opportunity to create awareness and perhaps even close out a (larger) sale.