Responding to the new retail customer expectations on fulfilment.
10 years ago ordering a book online and receiving it in the mail a week later was revolutionary. At the time, this state of the art retail experience was seen as way ahead of the curve. Yet for traditional bookstores, no warning bells were sounded and no fears were sparked.
5 years ago having any hot meal delivered to your door within 30 minutes, for the same price as take-away, was excitingly novel. Yet there came no immediate retaliation from restaurants and fast-food chains.
Today, we deliver online orders from Australian retail outlets to customers within 60 minutes. For the forward-thinking brands utilising services like this, convenience is the promise that separates them from competitors and drives brand loyalty amongst customers. For the brands who aren’t, sound the warning bell.
The reality is, brand loyalty, like all rapid advances, is tempered with WIFM – ‘What’s In It For Me’. Whether I need a bottle of wine, a dress to wear tonight, medication for my child or groceries for dinner, if a retailer can get me my products within an hour of me purchasing them online, then I am now loyal to that service, and thus to that retailer. And that experience will result in repeat and more frequent purchases.
The prediction of consumers wanting more convenience is a fairly safe one. While there is no doubt the future customer will want to continue the recreational, high involvement retail indulgences like trying on new perfume, sunglasses or jewellery, most will not be as excited about functional retail chores. These purchases, such as pharmaceuticals, hardware, stationery, pet food and groceries can be delivered straight to the customer from their favourite retailer’s nearest outlet, without them having to travel to the store, search for and collect the item, pay for it and then travel back home before consuming it. Customer convenience has narrowed to a simple definition; getting the product the customer wants into their hands, now.
These new expectations will soon become standard amongst consumers. Because once they have experienced the new, it’s very hard to go back to the old. Just imagine if trading hours were scaled back to 5 days a week, or if EFTPOS terminals were removed. Ohh, the horror!
This gradual process is called ‘convenience creep’. Some retailers twigged with the advent of Click and Collect but that has now proven to be just a cautious dip of the toe into the waters of complete customer fulfilment. Delivering what the customer needs in full is already happening, and it doesn’t involve drones or high-speed vacuum pipes linking your front door with the local shopping centre.
This is the evolution that will quickly become the standard. The widespread immediate-gratification mindset that has become ubiquitous amongst consumers is changing what it will mean to be a retailer in the next 10 years.
It’s now up to forward-thinking retailers to propel the evolution and be the disruptors that stake their claim on the future of retail.