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Digitisation and the consumer journey

Technological revolution and the rise of omni-channel: Introduction that discusses the ways in which the digital world has changed our daily lives.
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Digitisation has propelled us to the edge of a technological revolution that could drastically change the way we live, work, play, and relate to others. We now operate in a digitally connected world. Digitisation has also given us cloud computing and big data. Real-time information that has provided us the power to interact with our surroundings, and engage in activities in unprecedented ways. With a few clicks or swipes, we can search for anything we want from the internet, check out the latest models of our favourite product, and compare prices before we make our purchase decisions. Consumers in the pre-internet era, were uninformed on prices, and had to be content with whatever discount was displayed.
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Now speed of access to information has given consumers the expectations of being able to get anything, anytime, anywhere, at the best price. These sites’ technological innovations, the demograpics of our society, have also changed. Young career families and single-parent households are on the rise. These households demand quicker response times, price competitiveness, and greater convenience due to their busy schedules. Changes in consumerisms have a direct impact on supply chains. Consumers now place a higher demand at the retail level for an expanded variety of products and services. Contemporary businesses face a constant challenge to reorganise their supply chain in order to effectively manage their offline and online customers.
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As we sail through the 21st century, the era of the fourth Industrial Revolution, the complexities and demands of omni-channel retailing I expect it to grow. Businesses need to grapple with these heightened challenges, and truly innovate or perish.
Digitisation has the capacity to transform lives; from the way we work, to the way we live – digitisation has had an impact on our lives. At work it has increased our mobility, improved the tools we use to be more efficient and productive; leaving us more time and opportunity to enjoy a more integrated work-life-balance.

Let’s look at what this means in the context of consumers and retailers.

How does it feel for consumers?

The modern customer experience faces a barrage of information, fueled by big data, Internet of Things and web coding and design. Consumers now have endless online and offline options for research before they buy. In a way, information about products and services is literally at their fingertips. Digitisation puts the consumer in the driver’s seat, making them more informed, more demanding and more vocal about what they want and what they do not want.

What are the implications for retailers?

As a result of consumers’ new options, companies have been forced to become more accountable, transparent and efficient. From the retailer’s point of view, digital channels have become a critical means for executing promotions, stimulating sales and increasing market share..

According to McKinsey and Company, “[to] keep up with rapid technology cycles and improve their multi-platform marketing efforts, companies need to take a different approach to managing the consumer decision journey, one that embraces the speed that digitisation brings and focuses on capabilities in three areas: Discover, Design and Deliver” (see link below for more on this).

While digitisation has opened up new online venues for consumers to expand their purchasing options, it has not made offline shopping irrelevant. Let’s consider some statistics. Although online searches are fast increasing, “offline touchpoints still account for 61% of behaviour”, according to Laurens van den Oever, Global Director Travel of GfK Asia Pte Ltd., who adds that “customers are mixing offline and online activity. Rather than competing, the two channels work in a symbiotic relationship, each relying on the other to assist consumers in their tasks”.

We suggest you take a look at the “Six key lessons about hybrid customer behaviour” in the interesting links section to get a better idea on how customer behaviour has been “hybridised” (ie using both offline and online channels for shopping) and the way this impacts various business models. It highlights how digitisation has created a new generation of consumers who want nothing less than instant gratification.

How do you feel about purchasing online?

Activity
Reflect on the purchase process in your most recent online shopping experience. How did it go?
Share your experience in the Comments section.
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Business Futures: Understanding Omni-channel Retailing and Supply Chains

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