Digital is Disrupting Everything – Retailers and Brands Need to Keep Evolving

Mihir Kittur, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Ugam,

In just a few decades, the retail world has changed dramatically. At our Ugam Customer Summit, we discussed how new technologies have completely revolutionized the way we shop, and that pace isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. The omnichannel customer can now shop 24/7 on any device in any location and is calling the shots!

What does this mean for retailers and brands? As one of our speakers at the Ugam Customer Summit, Randall Nguyen, Product Lead, Rakuten noted, “If we start chasing all the trends, we’re going to get lost.” Here are key insights about the omnichannel customer that you should be paying close attention to, and using to your advantage.

1. Customer data is abundant and constantly growing.
Wi-fi is now integrated into nearly everything – even refrigerators and washing machines – and these devices are constantly collecting data about customers. For example, the recently launched Alexa-enabled Dash collects data on the Amazon customers’ shopping preferences like the brand, the type of products, the number of items they purchase, how often they purchase and so on. With this data, Amazon can understand how the shopping patterns of their customers vary for different products and accordingly adjust their strategies. The digital world has pampered us with a flood of customer data, and we now have the technology and expertise to categorize and analyze it, and predict what customers want and need.

2. Customers are exposed to vastly different shopping triggers.
There are now several different touchpoints that can trigger a customer to shop. They could be reacting to an email promotion, realize that they’ve run out of milk while standing at the fridge, which is conveniently next to their Amazon Echo, or see a new purse their friend has and decide to purchase it via their cell phone on the spot. Today, it is more convenient than ever to shop on the go. The trick is making sure it’s your product that tops customers’ search and it’s your email promotion customers react to. Again, the data you collect will ensure that you are there right when your customer needs you.

3. Customers’ expectations are leaning towards real-time and automation.
Nguyen shared a very interesting chart during his presentation about customers’ expectations around shipping.


While standard and express shipping seem to be very close to customer expectations, same-day and hyper-local shipping are nowhere near consumer expectations, as seen in the chart. Customers want the product NOW, and they don’t really want to pay more for shipping. This is one example, where customer expectations are ahead of the industry: once one retailer comes out with a good idea, customers expect everyone to follow. Customers now expect every retailer to let them order online/pick-up in store or give them coupons that will work in all locations or let them buy a size online if it is out of stock in-store. You need to make sure you are meeting these needs to make the shopping experience more fluid and real-time.

I leave you with an interesting quote from Hiroshi Mikitani, the CEO of Rakuten, “While new technologies are always emerging, consider each one not just for its technical abilities but for its potential to improve the human experience of shopping.” It’s about getting to know your customers (by leveraging data and analytics), always being there for your customer no matter which channel they choose to shop in, and finally, exceeding their expectations. Isn’t this what selling has always been about?

This is part 2 of a series of blogs based on the content presented at the Ugam Customer Summit 2017.


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