OPTIMIZING TECH TO BETTER REACH CONSUMERS

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The sway of technology on consumer behavior cannot be ignored. Advanced technology has empowered consumers to heights never seen before. Customers have open access to information and demand products and services at their own choosing. Digital media has given consumers a greater say while new channels assist communication with brands to share their thoughts with near and dear ones.
The velocity of technology and developments in consumer behavior accelerate organizations to evolve swiftly. The companies that deliver on the demand will thrive and that are slow to react will not survive.

 

More Connected Consumers

Consumers are more connected to commerce than ever. With a smartphone, they can look up products, ask questions about sales, and purchase products irrespective of their geographical position or activity.

For instance, the times spent commuting to work on trains or buses have massively changed because of technology and connected devices. A study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research has stated that UK consumers spend over 22.8 billion pounds per year online shopping while using public transport.

It goes without saying that a dynamic social and digital media ecosystem needs to be developed to address this consumer becoming hyper-connected. With integrated marketing channels, a unified customer experience can be extended. Seamless transitions should enable a smooth consumer shift between devices, e-commerce, channels and traditional brick-and-mortar locations.

Device Multiplicity

Customers use multiple devices these days. Alongside higher household usage of tablets and wearables, consumers use a variety of devices to access the internet. A Google report has discovered that 90% of consumers use more than one device to accomplish a single task online in their customer journey.

Organizations need to be flexible to this influence of technology and can focus on an omni-channel marketing strategy. This will help brands to create personalized, contextually relevant experiences that engage consumers in the right place, time, and message as they move between devices. Customers who are monitored over multiple devices produce 6 times more data as opposed to those that are not. As such greater personalized experiences can be offered from this pool of information.

The Perishables Predicament

Consumer based services need to improve customer interactions, improve sales and reduce overhead costs. Many services, such as food and other perishables, are seasonal. They have unpredictable, and sometimes, volatile customer trends.

With rising human labour costs, inefficiency and competition to retain goods staff there is a double burden with replacing technology that is often pricey, burdensome and not well managed.
Solutions to these issues can lie in leveraging existing platforms and upcoming technology.

Great Expectations

Consumers have higher expectations than ever before as a consequence of the influence of technology. With digital pioneers continually raising the bars, customers compare buying from companies and their competitors with the experience they receive from Amazon, Alibaba, etc. Consumers expect responsive, relevant, and targeted communication, products and services from the companies they buy from.

An American Express study revealed that over 50% of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase because of a bad customer experience while 74% have switched brands because of an extremely difficult purchasing process.

Retail and Phone Ordering

Mobile Marketer found that 40% of millennials interact with chatbots and these AI powered chatbots could be the solutions as 47% of consumers are open to making a purchase from a chatbot.
On location Augmented Reality (AR) and Phone Bots can assist and take orders, while answering all questions and mining data. Delivery services can be enhanced with quality data from AI and APIs connected to many sources of data. In addition, secure integration of biometric services utilizing digital wallets and auto-pay systems can recognize opted-in consumers and staff.

Mobile, Chat and Online commerce platforms

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can assist all customer orders and learn with interaction to improve selection of better goods and increase engagement. Consumers can engage merchants in new places such as Facebook, Skype, Google Voice or SMS without the requirement for Apps or Website ordering. The AI can generate personalized conversation marketing such as answering questions, taking orders, providing complex queries to assist many 3rd party applications for payments, reporting, etc.

Merchants’ can leverage both data and AI to make better selection on sourcing products and preferred consumer selections. Future technology can be easily integrated into merchant tools such as the adoption of drones. This improves along with the market adoption. Tracking and fleet management with new pooled resources can connect many new and innovative logistics services.
Consumer rating and reviews manage and improve with new tools to track interactions. There will be no more fake or lost ratings.

AI and blockchain have the ability to harmonize the merchants’ entire Farm to Table initiatives. It can improve operations from sourcing to consumption in order to make the supply chain more organic, fresh and sustainable. This results in happier and healthier consumers.

Futuristic Forecasts

The ever-changing consumer behavior, evolution and the adoption of technology are good indicators of any future trends in marketing. Being in digital, companies are always looking to identify media consumption patterns and changes to the landscape and opportunities to find new customers. The ambition of what technology could achieve is larger than what we actually see in the markets presently. Gaining access to information will look completely different and will open up endless possibilities for human development in the distant future.

In Search Augmented Reality

Traditional search has evolved extensively. However, there are issues when it comes to user experience. as search results are yet not very interactive. Users can get overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the information available. This challenge is not just limited only to search engines. Retailers will have to adjust quickly as well. Customers want information to be delivered in the easiest way possible and want to be able to personalize their choices. In order to truly unlock this experience, we need to leverage better speeds. 5G, which is designed for rich media and will offer speeds up to 10Gb/s is likely to be rolled out in 2022, adding more capacity to enhance personalization and online interactivity.

Google also started showing 3D Augmented Reality objects in Search back in 2019/2020 and announced an early adopters’ program. This feature is currently limited to a limited number of organizations, but we can start preparing for it. Consumers have individual requirements. A combination of new technology and high speeds will enable AR to disrupt the retail experience in the next few years.

Internet of things

Search engines have plenty of data about people and their preferences including travel history, workplace data, devices, browsing history and much more.
The next arena is to connect the dots with residential places. Google Home and Echo dominate the speaker market already. Nest is partnering with ADT, leading the market share of the home security sector. Household device-level targeting is currently available. IP algorithms can determine IP addresses based on the physical address for precise digital ad targeting. This can be used for reaching new movers, venue targeting and web to home targeting. By 2025, 75 billion devices will be online and connected. Google states that 90% of media is consumed across a number of screens. New interfaces are popping up whether that’s in mirrors, fridges or car screens.

The future of marketing will be screen agnostic. This means organizing and feeding information to platforms in a way that accurately conveys the meaning and the context of the data about our products. Schema, Site architecture, Taxonomy and Ontology will gain more importance in bringing inventory to these platforms which ultimately enable companies to connect their brand to consumers across all types of devices and screens.

Thought Search

Search engines have become a lot more intelligent in understanding the intent behind searches happening on their platforms. From word vectors to thought vectors, the capabilities and the experience has improved immensely. Looking back at the ambitions of Google, Larry page talked about his idea of ‘Search by thought’. Consumers no longer have to use a laptop to type or a phone to say what they would like to search for. They can get all that information in the consumers’ brains connected to billions of neurons in the cloud.

“Search will be included in people’s brains with the knowledge of the world. Google will augment the brain – Eventually, you’ll have the implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer.” The creation of a human brain/cloud interface will give people instant access to knowledge and resources through thought. Advancements in nanotechnology and AI will enable this to happen in real-time.

A similar system called ‘BrainNet’ has already been tested, focused on creating a thought driven information exchange between individuals. This technology works with an average accuracy of 81.25%.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to enable this on a wide scale. One can imagine the bandwidth needed to manage the flow of information and by millions of people. However, with all the advancements in this sector, we could be seeing a form of an internet-driven by thoughts by the end of this decade.

Although this year is far away, the coming era will truly change the way we consume information and will present new opportunities and challenges for reaching customers.

The Writer is the CEO of MCFG and the Executive Director of Global Chamber © Dhaka. He can be reached at maimun@globalchamber.org

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