How to deal with Amazon Dash, customized content, cross-device user experience, and convergence of sales channels? In a retail business world that’s clearly characterized and dominated by rising customer expectations, decreasing brand loyalty, reduced margins and an array of options for customers. Technological innovations provide an answer to these challenges and serve as a distinguishing feature to the competition.
Gartner has analyzed where retailers and marketers invest and what topics they should keep an eye on, disclosing at the same time the topics the industry will probably talk about the most:
Smart, networked devices of the Internet of Things (IoT) era are transforming digital commerce, shifting the buying decision of users to devices (things). An example is Amazon Dash, which was introduced in 2016 and re-orders preferred products at the touch of a button. So, looking at it from that perspective, these devices are a completely new kind of customer. The primitive form of this thing-commerce still needs a manual and explicit action, but once the devices become more sophisticated and users trust them, they will bear more responsibility. Then, it's about recurring purchases, such as consumer goods.
For retailers and marketers, obviously, a new situation arises. Devices will increasingly affect their businesses and will more often have to deal with "things". Consequently, they will have to deliver offers that convince IoT devices.
Personalization is more than ever a hot topic, especially since companies can less and less differentiate themselves by products and price. Instead, they try to stand out from the competition through customer experience. If companies analyze purchase intentions and interests, they can offer the user an added value, as individualized content can be shown, and the customer feels in good hands. A good personalization increases satisfaction and engagement, and increases the conversion rate.
Analysis of the customer journey
Users access different channels and devices on their ‘path-to-purchase’, as Criteo’s State of Cross Device Commerce Report vividly points out: In 2016, one third of online retail transactions involved two or more devices, demonstrating that a good cross-device user experience is essential. Hence, retailers and marketers must optimize the respective channel for individual customer intention as well.
Accurately analyzing the customer journey improves customer satisfaction, translates into more continuity between channels, grants more attribution and user segmentation, and increases user personalization. The goal is clear: If the user is satisfied, he will buy faster.
Convergence of B2B and B2C
The increasing convergence of business models of B2B and B2C commerce is relevant in several ways.
For B2B companies trying to build physical sales channels (sales teams, partner sales teams, support teams, etc.) this convergence promises sinking costs as they are less dependent on existing sales channels. At the same time, an online store additionally increases overall sales and market presence, besides providing a better user experience which in turn strengthens conversions and sales.
On the other hand, B2C retailers can also benefit from the convergence, since they have the opportunity to improve their own purchasing experience with suppliers of raw materials or can strengthen the relationship with distributors and wholesalers based on their commerce platform.