E-commerce and retail: prepare for the Age of Assistance (I)
The need for speed in the Customer Journey
In e-commerce every microsecond counts. If an online consumer needs to wait, they’re gone. Cloud technology can help accelerate and improve the customer experience, thus increasing the conversion. But a lot more is required to service a relentless customer. This is the first part of a report about a fascinating meeting on how technology can bring e-commerce to the next phase: As a retailer, how do you react to the Age of Assistance?
“Consumers are curious, impatient and demanding. They want to feel known and they want to be surprised. Everything needs to be quick and convenient. We’re at the cusp of what Google has dubbed ‘The Age of Assistance’. The era where technology will take consumers by the hand for their large and small decisions.”That’s what Mario Schothuis explains, as Google Cloud for Retail Manager and host of the Power Breakfast ‘The Need for Speed in the Customer Journey’, co-organized with g-company.
This assistance is provided via various devices in various places. Behind the wheel, in the living room, on your wrist, via the smartphone, on the scales. And of course in the webshop and, in the near future, in the physical store as well. All of these devices share the common denominator of being ‘connected’ to the cloud. Via artificial intelligence and machine learning they are becoming better and better at tailoring their assistance to the consumer. The more real-time data is being fed to ‘the system’, the more accurately it assists you. Interaction has gone from clicking and typing before, to tapping on a touchscreen nowadays, and will evolve to spoken conversations with the voice assistant which is already built into an increasing number of devices. Soon, ‘viewing‘ is going to be added as well, as face and image recognition break through.
Schothuis quickly walked attendees through the three dimensions of the consumer attitude. “The curious consumer expects continuous innovation, not just of the retailer’s range, but also in the ways that communication and transactions with the company take place. Chatting with customer service or sales, for instance, was considered a novelty not too long ago. Nowadays, we’re disappointed when there’s no chat-function. A consumer’s impatience shows clearly in research that was done about how websites influence the client experience and conversion. 40 percent of all people leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. 79 percent of all consumers who are not happy with the performance of a website, state that they are less likely to return for a purchase. A study by Zalando shows how much impact something as seemingly minor can have: a loading time improved bij 100 milliseconds (0,1 second), leads to a sales increase of 0,7%. And Amazon shows the other side of the coin: a delay of one tenth of a second, costs the company 1% in revenue. That can lead to hundreds of millions in lost revenue on a yearly basis. Additionally, the consumer doesn’t just demand a speedy website, but they expect the same of logistics. It should not be a surprise that one day delivery is becoming unavoidable.
Right to speak
“Last but not least, the consumer is demanding. In 2020, client experience will become the most important distinguishing factor, over price. The extent to which a company provides positive client experiences, is key for the ability to gain new customers, and retain current ones,” says Schothuis. Google provides products, technology and services, which touch upon various parts of the retail value chain. Google is going to be an important strategic partner to retailers, and provides the foundation for e-commerce in the Age of Assistance. Many of the biggest retailers already use the infrastructure and software provided by Google. Retailers in the Netherlands such as bol.com, Coolblue and Vliegtickets already implement Google Cloud, because of the scalability, sturdiness and continuous innovation.
Schedule an appointment with Jeroen Hovinga for a first orientating and inspiring dialogue!
And keep an eye on our blog, seeing as part II of this article will be up in a few days!