Key Takeaways:

  • Today’s consumers expect companies to quickly innovate and pivot based on their changing preferences.
  • This begs the question —how can today’s businesses keep up and stay relevant in a time where shoppers demand smarter customer experiences?
  • We’ll look at three quick ways you can answer this question …

The unbelievable speed at which technology is infiltrating our daily lives has created an era where customers are empowered. They can browse and purchase what they want, where they want, whenever they want. We are so much more demanding now that we have a voice that can travel through social media and make an impact on product and services.  In fact, today’s consumers expect companies to quickly innovate in accordance with their changing preferences, as a new study by Salesforce suggests that 70% of consumers agree that technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere.

The question becomes, what can today’s companies do to keep up and stay relevant in a time where customers are looking for smarter, efficient and easier shopping experiences?

Here are 3 quick notes on how to answer this question:

#1. Be a Listener  

With all the data that is available to companies today, there’s no reason for us to be disconnected from the customer. We have all the tools available to us to listen to their wants, needs and desires —needs being the most important piece. Big data and AI tech is allowing us to gather amazingly important data —to take information on social profiles, movements, behaviors and more to give our customers the experiences they expect and deserve.

Our industry better jump on board if we want to be here 5 years from now —to listen to customers and shape the in-store and online experience to better serve their interests. Consumers buy into the brand —they want to know why you do what you do— and you need to listen close enough to know that your message of “why” is being absorbed.

#2. Be Innovative

In reading a recent blog post, I learned that Rebecca Minkoff’s fitting rooms tripled expected clothing sales with smart mirrors. Powered by eBay, the technology (which does not include actual cameras) uses RFID tags to recognize each item brought in, and shoppers can pull up product screens that show them the item styled in different looks, as well as other sizes and colors —similar to how you shop online.

Talk about innovation! This retailer wasn’t afraid to go big or go home. As an industry, we should be constantly trying to be innovative to keep the customer interested and engaged. Another way to look at this is to reinvent all the time. We can measure our results so much better today than in the past, so it is imperative to be agile and pivot when it is time.

#3. Be Fast

The speed at which technology changes is now in hyper-mode. We are almost in a “ beam-me-up-Scotty moment.” (Can't believe I'm am referencing  Star Trek. Boy those science fiction movies were anything but.) Companies that take too long to find, understand and implement technology will be left in the dust. If you’re trying to give customers the best experience —do so by getting in the game . Then, listen to the feedback, analyze the data and make adjustments. Being “first to market” can mean the difference between being the winner and the looser. One of my favorite sayings is “trust and go”. Nothing will ever be perfect, so just do it and trust your instincts.

Managing Expectations

Customers are in charge in the connected world. The Salesforce study tells us that 50% of consumers say they’re likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs, and 74% feel the same if the company doesn’t provide an easy checkout process. How will you manage expectations? Part of meeting those expectations is being a giver. Give more value then people are paying for. That's the best business plan there is.