For the past few years, Deloitte has released an annual consumer review focusing on digital predictions. The Deloitte Consumer Review: Digital Predications 2017, published in March, analyzes the top innovations that alter the relationship between consumers and brands.
Much of the report resonates with what we've been saying here at iQmetrix. Let's look at three key takeaways from the report and assess how they tie into retail merchandising.
1. Enhanced mobile connectivity
According to the review, 5G mobile networks, set to be launched this year, promise to speed up data traffic dramatically. By 2020, the report says, “a significant proportion of users should have become accustomed to obtaining and expecting connectivity speed of over 100 Mbit/s, and in some cases significantly higher.” Compared to current Internet speeds in the United States, 100 Mbit/s is a dramatic improvement, and one that web users should definitely look forward to.
What does improved mobile connectivity mean for consumers? Greater adoption of the Internet of Things and easier use of wearable devices immediately come to mind. Another perspective is that retailers who stay within the traditional brick-and-mortar paradigm only will appear increasingly outdated to consumers accustomed to fast, ubiquitous Internet. When everything is digital, shoppers expect stores to be up to date, too.
Retailers can ensure they're offering patrons an omnichannel experience—where the offline and online realms seamlessly merge—with solutions like Endless Aisle kiosks and tablets, drop shipping and digital signage. With these tools, brands can remain part of the story consumers tell themselves, and part of their relationship with their beloved smartphones.
2. Improved machine learning
Machine learning, a trending topic in tech, consists of computers learning from past experience to improve their functionality. It's something that will become more and more integrated in devices over the next few years, and will soon be found in everything from cars to medical technology to tablets. Deloitte predicts that 300 million-plus smartphones sold in 2017 (or about twenty percent of total units sold) will have “on-board neural network machine-learning capability.”
Deloitte summarizes the main payoff of this trend: “As AI and machine learning are more skillfully integrated into devices, the ability to anticipate consumer needs will improve.” In other words, big data will likely harness the power of machine learning to analyze consumers' desires and preferences.
Analytics is a chief component of the omnichannel paradigm. With an analytical point of sale, for instance, retailers can examine exactly what's happening at the register. Establishing systems that provide feedback about which transactions are taking place is a good first step to building a future-compatible, omnichannel approach that can take on machine learning and other sophisticated technologies to make even more sales.
3. Centering the consumer
What these two trends have in common is that both suggest retailers make consumers—their devices, their experiences—the centerpoint of their marketing strategies. As the Deloitte Consumer Review explains, future trends “involve technologies that are either improving localised consumer experience on mobile devices, or the infrastructure that enables them. As a result consumers are more and more empowered and sitting at the centre of the virtual economy.”
As more user-centric designs change the ways consumers and brands interact, we can expect to see more technologies that cater directly to users' needs and preferences. For example, as fingerprint technology becomes more common, shoppers can likely expect consumer experiences that are streamlined through biometric applications. Think: facial recognition that customizes advertisements on digital signage, fingerprint scanning that offers secure and streamlined purchasing options and more.
Too often, brick-and-mortar retailers want to stay in the past, where cyberspace wasn't a big concern. But whether it's for furniture sales or any other type of retail, technology is at the center of everyone's life. Now more than ever, it's important for companies to embrace omnichannel strategies and incorporate new technologies into their digital retail marketing to meet the needs of their customers head-on.
To keep up with changing shopper preferences, and a growing number of channels, retailers must constantly pivot their approach. Download Personalizing Every Customer’s Path To Purchase and learn how to adjust to consumer preferences in real time, and deliver 1:1 experiences that will delight every shopper during every shopping journey.
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