Customers want it, and they want it now! The pandemic saw people spending more time at home which skyrocketed the growth of e-commerce. This accelerated the rate at which businesses altered their online and offline operations to meet the increased demand.
Today’s shoppers are impatient, and a positive customer journey is at the heart of driving sales for retailers. Therefore, businesses are racing to develop ways to enhance the speed with which consumers can purchase and receive goods.
Fashion and food retailers are arguably the most heavily impacted areas. Brands are competing to reduce delivery times and increase the speed of their websites, which has caused customer expectations to rise as more people seek technology that makes purchases easier and faster.
Rise in Q-Commerce
The modern consumer journey in 2021 demands speed. Whether it’s a takeaway or an online purchase, the sooner a consumer receives their goods, the better.
This has caused the rise of what is known as Q-commerce (‘quick’ commerce’). Q-commerce fuses the benefits of conventional e-commerce with innovations in last-mile delivery. The premise is mainly the same, with the speed of delivery being the key differentiator. Delivery is not in days but minutes – 30 or less – to be competitive. Its impact has undoubtedly been influenced by widespread lockdowns and the reduced accessibility to everyday items.
While this timeframe appears to be very short, q-commerce is typically used for smaller orders. Retailers rely on online ordering systems, local warehouses, and delivery staff to get items out as quickly as possible.
Customer service has traditionally emphasized the importance of human contact. Store staff can make consumers feel valued, assist them in finding what they need, and upsell in the process by interacting with them on a personal level. However, with the introduction of new retail technology, customers appear to be less interested in receiving personalized service and instead prefer to get in and out of stores quickly with the items they require.
In response to this new behavior, technologies are becoming increasingly autonomous. This is where they are capable of making decisions and doing tasks on the behalf of consumers. The rise of ‘ Walk Out’ and ‘Frictionless’ Shopping Experience are examples of autonomous retail. All the ‘boring’ purchasing processes are carried out automatically, providing greater convenience for customers.
How will ‘phygital’ redefine shopping?
Phygital combines physical and digital elements in retail. Whether it’s huge stores integrating digital technology to their physical locations or e-commerce brands branching out into brick-and-mortar. Having a physical store allows you to deliver experiences that aren’t possible online while having an online store gives customers the flexibility to choose how they shop, pay, and have their orders fulfilled.
Immersion, immediacy, and interaction are all elements of a phygital experience. Making the customer a part of the experience is what immersion is all about. Immediacy means that customers receive the right message at the right time, and they have the option of choosing how their order is fulfilled based on how quickly they need it. Finally, interaction allows customers to interact with items through a sensory experience. This omnichannel sales strategy assists retailers in creating a fully integrated physical and digital storefront, making the experience for customers convenient, speedy, and engaging.
The Price of Convenience
Value has suffered as retailers seek to make their shopping experience as convenient as possible. Customers want speed, but not at the expense of quality. According to findings from IBM, the value-driven segment accounts for 41 percent of all consumers. This group of customers want good value, convenience, and products/services that make life easier, and they are willing to pay for it. As a company, if your pursuit of convenience decreases the value of your offering, you need to change your approach. To have the necessary products accessible at the right place and time, you need to use your external data to make smarter judgments and more accurately forecast demand patterns.
Another drawback of the new customer convenience initiatives is their negative effect on the environment. In the same IBM research, 57 percent of respondents said they are willing to change their purchase patterns to reduce their environmental impact. You should reconsider your strategy if it’s causing you to compromise on your sustainable goals. Offer alternatives that give trade-offs between supply chain cost, service, and environmental impact if consumers are ready to pay a premium or change behavior to lessen environmental impact.
Consider how retail technology will affect the quality of your product/service before investing in it to increase convenience. Customers want both, so don’t sacrifice one for the other. Will customer convenience jeopardize your company’s sustainability? If the answer is yes, then invest in technologies that will improve both the customer experience and help you achieve your environmental goals.
Are you a RetailTech or e-commerce company wanting to scale and expand your organization? If so, get in touch! Our consultants have access to a large network of professionals that can help you increase your team’s efficiency and deliver the convenience that customers need.