In today’s guest post, Darin Archer, CMO at Elastic Path, explores today’s ‘sci-fi shoppers’. Later this month Elastic Path will be launching a new report on this topic, drawing on data from over 1,000 consumers and 300 B2C brand marketing professionals, entitled “The Sci-Fi Shopper: How to Future Proof Your Brand for the New Customer”.
A decade ago, the idea of using voice assistants and facial recognition for commerce felt like something from a James Cameron, Stanley Kubrick or Steven Spielberg sci-fi blockbuster. Even same-day delivery felt futuristic.
Jump forward to today and technology has caught up with our imagination. As more and more new commerce experiences become a reality we’re well on the way to becoming the sci-fi shoppers we’ve watched in the movies.
In response, brands are throwing $210B per year at the problem of trying to create sparkly, new tech-savvy retail experiences, but many sci-fi shoppers aren’t buying into the hype. What they’ve actually seen so far has left them as underwhelmed as Game of Thrones fans after the series finale. The glaringly clear disconnect between what modern consumers want and what brands are delivering is ludicrous.
With so much creative energy going into futuristic experiences, many companies have become distracted from the simple needs of the sci-fi shopper to save time and money. No matter how ‘buzzy’ new technologies like AR or AI are, brands must wake up and smell the coffee. They’ve got to actually be addressing what the consumer wants over the novelty of an experience.
Sci-fi shoppers don’t want gimmicks, they want new experiences that make their lives frictionless; better to them means easier and faster. Convenience is king — and the sci-fi shopper doesn’t have the patience for brands that aren’t convenient.
Get on board with the right tech
Whether it’s voice commerce, VR, chatbots or other innovations, it’s up to brands to master whatever technology investment is going to create better experiences for their customers. And, this will vary depending on the audience.
Companies mustn’t blindly race ahead to invest in technology for innovation’s sake. They should only adopt tech that is solving real pain points in their processes. They’ve also got to ensure product and customer data is accurate because if your data is flawed and siloed, you’re going to struggle to create any meaningful value for anyone.
Voice commerce is a good example of a technology that’s becoming increasingly integrated into our lives and allowing brands to bring the purchase experience to shoppers in more seamless ways. But the convenience of this experience will quickly turn to frustration if the brand screws up the execution and does something stupid like forcing customers to re-enter billing information for every voice purchase they make.
Inflexible backend systems and processes can’t be allowed to cause inefficiency. Customer data must be unified across every touchpoint.
Headless commerce is the only way to create the seamless, convenient and unified experience today’s sci-fi shoppers crave. It can be used to quickly integrate capabilities and data points across new environments. Improving the customer purchase experience through self-checkouts and voice technology, or even closing the gap between the in-store and online experience can all be managed from one headless commerce platform.
Learning from Amazon
Every brand can learn from Amazon’s focus on the factors that are important to the sci-fi shopper. With same day delivery, Amazon Go locations and Amazon Alexa, the company is shaping consumer expectations for what qualifies as a positive customer experience.
Amazon’s option to buy online and pick up in Walmart in the US and Next in the UK enables a fast, frictionless experience for the customer. They no longer have to wait for a shipment.
Convenience is being able to grab a few items that you can’t wait 24 hours for, or can’t be at home to receive. Consumers aren’t against physical stores, they just expect them to tow the line in terms of ease and convenience.
Away from Amazon, another awesome example of a modern commerce experience is Princess Cruises and its OceanMedallion™ technology. Through one small wearable token, Princess Cruises is successfully converging the physical and digital worlds into one always-available, frictionless experience for holidaymakers.
Frictionless commerce, every time
Rather than chasing shiny objects, brands must remember that consumers just want to buy the products they need with as little effort as possible. The sci-fi shopper can’t stand time-wasting.
Instead, brands must make every experience shoppable through a robust commerce backend that supports the latest innovations without sacrificing customer experience.
The companies that will be successful in the future are those that understand their consumers’ pain points and frustrations. They also understand that it is no longer feasible to continue to have multiple sales platforms instead of one unified commerce approach.
With the right frictionless tech, the sci-fi shopper can be primed to purchase, almost without thinking, anytime and anywhere.