How can we enrich our lives beyond frictionless experiences?
The COVID-19 pandemic has given retail a rare opportunity to stop and consider what we want the future of retail to become. Yet, while we wait for life to return to normal, we have seen two fundamental shifts in our attitudes and behaviour: an increased sense of empathy for others, and protection for ourselves. On the other side of this pandemic, retail will need to respond to these new needs of customers and find innovative new ways to create brand experiences. We have identified several areas of emerging attitudes and have outlined how they lead to exciting opportunities in retail in a series of articles.
How can we enrich our lives beyond frictionless experiences?
As we spend more time at home, our expectations of convenience and especially delivery have changed. It's actually ok to wait for things. As our values shift, we are re-framing what constitutes convenient. Under a pandemic lockdown we can't go out for many of our purchases, so home delivery is more important than ever, but our evaluation isn't just based on time. More methods of delivery are becoming available and more players are coming to the market. Drones and Uber offer vastly different experiences. The critical nature of time will surely rise to importance again, but the way we perceive value in delivery will also expand over the coming years. Speed, method and personalisation of delivery will all play a more significant role in the way we value convenience in the future.
WHAT THE FUTURE MIGHT HOLD…
New Delivery Value Factors
Our vocabulary for value will increase as the possibilities for delivery continues to expand. There is so much more to it than time. The growing use of drones will see machine-like precision for deliveries. Imagine specifying a delivery down to an exact minute, or specifying the exact location to the inch. Perhaps our phone GPS can be used to ensure a package is delivered to us, no matter where we happen to be. In the new normal you will go about your day and your package will find you, wherever you are.
Delivery is a Brand Experience
We have come to see unboxing a product as part of the brand experience. Apple carefully considers how you open a product box and discover it for the first time. Naturally, the delivery of a product should also be an extension of the brand experience. What can the package come with? Delivery accessories you weren't expecting, are similar to being offered a glass of champagne in a store. Who delivers it - machine or man? As drones become more common, we will see a more human type of delivery interaction as an alternative. Some may miss the days of the neighbourhood milkman that knew your name and stopped for a short conversation. A more local and personalised human experiences will become important to many. What knowledge of your product does the delivery person have? Being told of the product benefits or how to set up your purchase as it's handed to you will elevate the service and extend the brand experience. What's important is that we have options. Having different levels of delivery service will allow customers to customise their experience and brands to differentiate themselves.
The drive-through has always been an ultimate expression of modern consumer convenience. Yet, COVID-19 has made us realise that is also provides us with security and comfort, as well as saving time. The nature of how we define convenience has expanded. As retail stores always strive for convenience and efficiency it’s natural the retail walk-through will gain popularity. We have already seen cafes and restaurants transform into takeaway windows, often running a leaner and more efficient business, and many types of retail can follow. A walk-through window doesn’t just have to be functional (order or pick-up), it can be consultative. Does service retail always need an enclosed store for all of their services? Banks and post offices often put their staff behind screens inside their stores, surely advice about an account or sending a package can be done from a street-side walk-through window. Perhaps this separation of function can leave greater focus for inside-store services. If we can assume customers in-store have more time, we provide more comfortable seating and offer a more personal service.
Ordering something online is convenient, but sending something back is a bad experience, not necessarily because of effort but due to disappointment; it’s an anti-climax. Click-and-collect is the happy median between online and physical retail, but it’s still far too transactional. Click-and-collect is mostly thought of about time-saving, but many customers have time and use it to secure a product in case it sells out, so for them it’s really ‘click-and-try’. Customers who have pre-ordered are the most likely to purchase and should be given a premium service. The store knows the customers size and what they want, they could be shown alternative products or services. If appointments are made part of the store could become curated for that customer, a changing room could be waiting and the staff could know his/her name. If these ideas are extended far enough click-and-collect becomes a part-personalised store by appointment.
Uber entering the delivery market will expand the possibilities for people to earn a quick side buck as ‘couriers’. Anyone can deliver something, and anything can be delivered. Imagine you just want some flour for a cake your baking from the local grocery or supermarket. A customer that's already at the grocery store could get a notification and accept the job of delivering it to you. They could buy what you need, and drop it off to you on their way home, collecting awards or loyalty points, or making a small profit in the process.
The time we have spent at home has changed that nature of waiting. Our sense of convenience and urgency for deliveries has changed, but this will broaden the scope of what delivery can be to us. Technology means we could be delivering convenience in ways beyond the parameters of time. It's likely we'll expect delivery to follow other retail trends of increased personalisation. In the new normal delivery will be more of an experience, and brands will utilise this to control and improve their customer relationships.
Like this article? Here are some related pieces:
- Previous Story How are our branded physical moments woven together by a digital pathway?
- Next Story How do brand values define consumer value?