How can retailers satisfy entitled consumers?
By now, we know that shoppers are empowered to research products before entering a store, search for better values online while in a store, and sometimes know more than a store associate. In a Forrester session at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Digital Summit (Shop.org), Melisa Parrish and Shar VanBoskirk (both VP’s and principal analysts for Forrester) said that the shopper’s journey has gotten so digitally connected shoppers feel entitled, which they define as “empowered with attitude.”
For these shoppers, many of whom are always connected to a digital device, their expectations have risen a lot. They expect to get what they want at their moment of need, in the appropriate context. The Forrester experts also say that the digital distinction has dissolved so consumers don’t distinguish between digital and physical experiences.
The advice of the speakers for retailers and brands is to be human, helpful and handy. Retailers need to scale what their best associates do well — solving problems vs. pitching customers. Employees need to be agile, flexing to situations, treating customers as individuals with individual needs. Mses. Parrish and VanBoskirk also say e-mail remains the most effective way to reach consumers, but it must be contextual and relevant. They advise not to get into the shiny object syndrome —chasing the latest trendy tech tool to try to solve strategic problems. And, with so many social channels, they advise not participating in all, but making strategic investment in those that work best for them.
But back to that entitled consumer for a minute. In a RetailWire interview, IBM VP of strategy Steve Mello said demanding consumers are killing retailer margins, as consumers go from wanting delivery in two days to one day to two hours to having pizzas delivered by drone in 30 minutes. And they usually want it free. He advises layering an order optimizing system on top of an order management system. That way, a retailer or brand can find available product and determine where and how to ship an item, with the software considering factors such as weather, distance, employee availability, overtime pay, delivery company, etc. So, at least the retailer or brand doesn’t lose as much money trying to keep the increasingly demanding customer happy.
- Why Email Just Doesn’t Die – Bright Shiny Objects: What’s Sexy Now in Digital Marketing – Shop.org Retail’s Digital Summit
- Fast and Free: Can Smaller Online Retailers Meet Consumers’ Delivery Demands? – SupplyChainBrain
- Fulfillment Costs and Customer Expectation—Both on the Rise – IBM Blog
Discussion Questions: What are the best ways to satisfy the increasing demanding digitally connected shopper? Are there any ways to improve service and keep the cost of doing so reasonable?