There is no doubt that digitization is now reshaping consumer behavior and shopping habits. The question is; is your business keeping up with these changes? Indeed, it will not be possible to drive consumers’ perception and behavior without redefining traditional roles, switching up sales tactics and rethinking engagement strategies.
Caught in a whirlwind of information, today’s busy consumers, want their search to show exactly the information they need through photos, reviews, etc. Purchasing behaviors have changed in the following ways: more sophisticated search queries, more influenced by product images and other visual keys, increased reliance on recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, and an increased priority given to clear facts and good prices.
Consider just the following few examples to understand the changing consumer behavior (based on a 2012 survey by Accenture on 10,000 online consumers in 10 countries):
– The professor in Stockholm who checks her email before bed and, when she finds an invitation to a conference in London, immediately goes online to buy airline tickets from a travel site.
– The young tech worker who gets his first job in Silicon Valley, sells his beat-up old car and then signs up for a car-sharing service for those times when he needs personal wheels
– The mother in São Paulo who chooses a particular brand of paper products for her family because they were produced with sustainable methods.
To thrive in this digitized world, businesses need to understand their customers better than ever. The advent of smartphones and social networking apps, for instance, has transformed how people communicate and search for information. The Amazon effect is revolutionizing eCommerce. Even in health care, digital technology has already started changing how consumers choose service providers. Coping with such changes is a challenge for many businesses.
Here are some ways in which companies are adapting to these prevalent changes in consumer behavior:
1. Provide a seamless shopping experience
There is no doubt that the rise of online shopping has made a huge impact on customer behavior and their expectations, including how consumers learn about a certain product. For example: They now go to eCommerce websites to read about detailed product information and expect the same kind of service in physical stores.
Retailers can up their game by going more digital. Such practice can help customers find products in-store and even skip the check-out line on their way out. Indeed, such shopping experiences are already being provided by Amazon Go where customers enter the store and take the products they wish to buy from the shelves before walking out.
Such service has been implemented through the use of cameras and sensors strategically placed across the store. Whenever you take an item off a shelf, computers keep track of them and place them into your virtual cart. Then, as soon as you leave, an app charges your credit card once you cross the checkout sensors. Such seamless shopping has caught the attention of other companies, and they are about to take on a similar approach.
2. Companies are going Multi-Channel
An eMarketer report states that 65% of consumers expect consistency of service on both digital and physical stores, with 55% of them expecting ‘frictionless flow of information between multiple channels.’ It is important to understand that the availability of other channels not only opens more possibilities for customers to get what they want, but it also boosts the revenue of retailers. According to a National Retail Federation report, multichannel shoppers spend $93 more than their single-channel counterparts over a Thanksgiving weekend. In other words, the age of buying an item through a single channel is over.
3. Voice Search Is Gaining Popularity
Consumers are increasingly getting comfortable with the voice search technology. In fact, due to the rising popularity of virtual assistants both on mobile devices and smart speakers, 60% of all searches are now coming from mobile devices with 20% using voice search. This means that customers are starting to lean toward a quicker and easier shopping experience.
To give you better insight, voice search generates US$2 billion in US retail sales. And with the rate it’s going, it’s expected to reach US$40 billion by 2022. Additionally, Gartner predicts that 30% of web-browsing sessions will be from voice-activated searches. With these numbers explains why optimizing for voice search should be a priority in 2019.
4. Build and Maintain customer loyalty by Combining Human and Digital
Despite the growing digital trends, consumers still want a relatable and relevant personal experience in the form of information. Human interaction still offers the right personal approach that people look for. Sometimes, a 30 discussion can convince a customer. The key is to be able to seamlessly combine the two – digital and human aspects – to have more chances of success.
Technology can be used to improve this function. Your customer base can be segmented by carefully analyzing data, and based on this your customer’s experience can be personalized. For instance, your most loyal customers can be identified digitally and then a personalized thank-you note can be sent to them.
5. Health Conscious and Environmentally Aware
Businesses should keep in mind that nowadays more consumers consider total well-being and care for the environment to be important. They are concerned about both their external surroundings and their physical and mental health. Sustainability encourages consumers to favor a brand more than those that do not promote health and the protection of the environment. For example, in the Philippines, a growing number of fast food restaurants have refrained from using plastic straws, appealing to consumers who support environmental awareness.
Businesses need to have a deep understanding consumer behavior in order to achieve their goals. Nowadays, the focus is on the integration of technology but at the same time we need to maintain the balance between the digital and human touch. The key is to make adjustments according to what your customers want. The best way to do that is by letting them guide your decisions in growing your business.