Shaping Consumer Buying Habits In A Post-Choice World

Shady Ghattas

Have you noticed how stressed-out many marketing professionals have become over the past few years?

Or, if you’re a marketer who’s been in the game for a while, have you reflected on how much more hectic and challenging your job has become since social media forced you to drink through the data firehose?

The explosion of Internet media has introduced more customer touch points than marketers can possibly keep up with. When TV, magazines, billboards, and the like were the only ways to be seen by consumers, it was manageable. Today, not a chance. CEOs are pushing CMOs harder and harder to prove the ROI of their marketing investments—something most marketers still struggle with.

At its core, the role of the marketer has always been about choice/rejection. Choose our brand, reject the competitor. Marketers target the “moments of truth” to achieve this. In the digital world, there are many more moments of truth to manage. Think of all the interactions on social media and how brands need to get defensive really quickly in some situations. In the past, marketers had a good idea of when those moments were, and they were largely in control during those moments.

While most marketers continue to grapple with these new realities of today, let’s look at how you’ll need to do marketing to be successful 5 to 10 years from now—and how you can start laying the foundations today so you don’t get caught unprepared again.

The next wave of marketing—which has already begun in some areas—will be based on automation. Automation will create a new paradigm for marketers, one where choice/rejection is removed from the equation. The digital age expanded the number of touch points for choice/rejection, whereas the automation age has the potential to eliminate them. The question becomes: “What is the role of the marketer if there is no opportunity to influence?”

Think for a second about Amazon Dash, a device that enables you to purchase products by simply pressing a button. Think about that smart fridge that might be in your kitchen a few years from now, ordering a new carton of milk for you when it recognizes that you’re running low. Imagine that each virtually mindless, purely habitual purchase you make is no longer even that – the possibility of you breaking the mold and choosing something new has gone from 1% to 0.1%. To marketers, that is a world of difference. Unilever is one company that seems to understand this thread, given its $1B acquisition of Dollar Shave Club.

When you no longer go into the store to select your brand of laundry detergent, how does a competing brand tempt you to choose their product instead? If a brand can no longer tempt you with an attractive promotion, superior product placement, better pricing or product (the traditional 4Ps of marketing), how does a marketer get you to switch to their brand?

The answer is the marketer can no longer be about just marketing. The marketer needs to become an expert on the entire customer experience.

The complete customer experience is in part about how the front office and the back office work together. If you press the Dash order button but your order never arrives or arrives late, that’s not a positive experience. If you order but your billing is out of whack, that’s not a positive experience either. The entire shopping experience, from ordering to receiving, must link together perfectly. Automation will provide an opportunity for brands that can offer a better overall experience to win in the market. Brands that get the automation piece right, integrate their front and back office, and offer that amazing customer experience will see their margins rise and the risk of losing customers fall significantly.

Ivey Business School marketing professor Niraj Dawar explains, “Spending billions to remind consumers to buy your brand will seem inordinately wasteful. Instead, advertising dollars will be redeployed to building relationships, challenging incumbents, increasing rates of consumption, and influencing algorithm designers and owners. Brand loyalty will be redefined, forcing marketers to differentiate much more clearly between mere repurchase and actual loyalty. Marketers of incumbent brands will need to ask whether the algorithm is “loyal” or the consumer is. For challengers, the critical question will be what they need to do to compel consumers to change the algorithm’s default settings.”

The companies that succeed in the digital age will not just get the customer experience right, they’ll also understand that it’s about the power of connecting the business and the brand at every node. With this comes an opportunity for emerging players to steal market share, but also an opportunity for incumbents to keep a firm grip on theirs.

Join SAP Hybris at The Gathering, an exclusive union of the world’s bravest brands, in Banff on February 22-24. You can also register for the online-only SAP Hybris LIVE: Digital Summit happening on March 8.

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Shady Ghattas

About Shady Ghattas

Shady Ghattas is Customer Solution Director of SAP Hybris Canada (SAP). He is a digital transformation leader with a focus on customer experience from marketing to commerce.

Social Selling Manners And Etiquette

Arif Johari

There’s an old adage: Treat others as you want to be treated. This still applies in the digital world we find ourselves in today. Are you aggressively pursuing customers and trying to get in their news feeds? Are you growing relationships and coming alongside as an advisor and partner in the buying process?

Let’s explore the do’s and don’ts of social selling, and how to behave in the digital world.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.“ – Damon Richards

Hunting vs. fishing

Fishing is broadcasting to a wide net. Hunting is actively listening to prospects and sharing personalized content to them—this is necessary to prove yourself a trusted advisor who’s in tune to prospects’ needs. Both of these approaches are needed because 11.4 pieces of content are consumed before making a purchase decision. By fishing, you’re elevating your company’s brand, and by hunting, you’re elevating your personal brand.

Engagement is king when it comes to relationships

Engaging people authentically is vital. The goal of making a social media post is to get engagement; therefore, you are giving prospects maximum value by doing this strategically and consistently. Engagement breeds engagement—treat others as you want to be treated.

The relationship between B2B buyer and seller have changed

Buyers expect salespeople to have expanded skill sets because 74% of buying decision is at least half-completed based on online research, before first touchpoint with a salesperson. So the information is already out there; what’s the value-add from a salesperson? Salespeople would have to position themselves as visible experts and are able to respond to questions, provide product pricing info, and provide testimonials in real-time. A salesperson’s role is to identify buying signals and help customers on all platforms, including social media.

Social selling is a long game

Building relationships depends on establishing trust and value over time. Building a good relationship means exposing yourself to buyers more than you might be used to. People do business with people they know and like!

Salespeople should treat social media like a cocktail party:

  1. Observe room
  2. Choose conversation to add value
  3. Politely add value with relevant insights

Using social listening to bolster offline relationship

Even if your prospects aren’t actively posting on social media, they still have profiles. LinkedIn users would get e-mail notification for messages sent on the platform, and users who are tagged in a status update would get a notification —so you can be noticed even when you’re not a connection! Before a call or meeting, review social media profiles for relationship-building cues (same experience, common connections, interests, etc.)—people like human connections, and personalized effort will put salespeople ahead of competitors.

Social selling has become such a hot topic that Coffee-Break with Game Changers is dedicating an entire series to exploring its various facets and promoting best practices for salespeople. To listen to other shows in this series, visit the SAP Radio area of the SAP News Center.

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Arif Johari

About Arif Johari

He is a Communications lead, Digital Marketing generalist, and Social Selling advocate. He trains marketing and sales employees to become experts in Social Selling so that they’d leverage social media as a leads-generation tool. He is responsible for executing innovative marketing strategies to increase engagement in social media, customer community, and landing pages through content, events, and A/B testing. He is passionate in making the work processes of the marketing and sales team more efficient, so that they can generate more revenue in a shorter time.

Seven Facts In Retail That Demand Change

Mark de Bruijn

Customer loyalty is no longer the powerhouse that it once was. In the digital age, consumers expect top-notch customer service, and the ability to buy what they want, anywhere, and anytime, through various channels, offline and online. With brick-and-mortar stores seeing fewer and fewer purchases while online sales continue to enjoy meteoric rises, retailers must face the music, and it’s a whole new dance card.

Omnichannel, multi-channel, seamless integration, and outstanding, personalized customer experiences are critical to a retailer surviving today.

Here are seven facts in retail that must be addressed.

1. Retailers still do not provide a seamless omnichannel experience

Only 17 percent of retailers indicate that their current omnichannel selection provides seamless integration for an optimal customer experience. Of the retailers that do offer omnichannel, many noted that each channel still provides their own customer experience, primarily due to a lack of integration in the back office. The facts are clear: A seamless omnichannel experience is essential as today’s demanding customers expect a personalized customer journey, regardless of where they interact with the brand. Retailers can only meet those expectations by integrating all channels.

2. Retailers do not have a central customer profile

Only 8 percent of retailers have a single customer profile, though the importance of a central customer profile is endorsed by virtually all retailers. Organizational silos, which cannot be accessed by the marketing department, prohibit critical access to the data necessary to compile a clear customer profile from the various details that are already being collected. By analyzing customer data, retailers can better understand customer behavior and gain valuable insights regarding how, where, and why the customer chooses their product. Based on those insights, retailers can develop business strategies and marketing campaigns.

3. Retailers have difficulty securing all contact points

The customer journey consists of a multitude of touchpoints which can be approached in a random order. That is great for the customer experience, but more contact points mean more data access points need to be secured. The more data access points there are, the greater the chance of data leaks. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compels retailers to keep their data maintenance in order based on EU law.

4. Loyalty programs are not dead, they just need restructuring

Marketers talk amongst themselves about a shift from macro to micro customer segmentation. In these discussions, they challenge the importance of loyalty programs. Surveys show, however, that customers actually do value such programs. 66 percent of customers actively participate in one or more loyalty programs. Although such loyalty programs are popular, they are in need of restructuring. By focusing these programs on individual tastes and preferences, the customers receive the unique and personal attention they enjoy so much.

5. In retail, social media is increasingly acknowledged as a review platform

Over 50 percent of consumers use social media to submit complaints to companies, or post reviews and responses. Social media is a quick and easy way to announce customer dissatisfaction to the rest of the world. Due to the increased use of social media, the time-honored principle of word-of-mouth advertising has grown into an enormously influential factor in the world of retail. For retailers, it is important to find out what customers are sharing on social media about their brand, and to try and have a positive influence on it.

6. CEOs feel the need for new KPIs that are focused on customer-centricity

Over 60% of CEOs critically assess the way their company uses data for promotional events, primarily because each department only focuses on its own KPIs. This needs to change dramatically. Instead of using the perspective of isolated company silos, KPIs must be based on a clear focus on the customer. Only then will everyone pursue the same ultimate objective: Excellent customer experiences.

7. Only a handful have an effective road map in place for the digital age

These next twelve months, organizations will focus on increasing profits, building customer trust, and providing excellent customer experiences. However, they usually lack an effective road map to achieve these objectives. In order to retain and improve customer loyalty, it is essential that these objectives remain top priority. A plan for making that happen is the basis for effective action. Technology offers a supporting tool to execute this plan.

Putting the customer on a pedestal

If the retail world is a flat landscape, the customer is the one who rises above them all. Customers like to have personal attention, anywhere, and at any time. It is up to retailers to answer that call and adapt to the digital age.

Ready to address the changes that retailers must make? Download our 2017 retail study, “Customers Are Calling The Shots” for FREE here

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Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich

 

Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

Link to Sources


From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.


What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”


Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.


Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.

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Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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Blockchain: Thoughts On The "Next Big Thing"

Ross Doherty

Many people associate blockchain with bitcoin—which is, at least for today, the most common application to leverage blockchain. However, when you dig a little deeper and consider the core concepts of blockchain—distribution, consensus achieved by algorithm rather than opinion, cryptographically secure, private—you start to think about how these aspects can be applied, both technically and strategically, to solve problems simple and  complex. Blockchain is neither a product nor a system – instead, it is a concept.

Blockchain applications disrupt conventional thinking and conventional approaches regarding data processing, handling, and storage. First we had the “move to the cloud,” and many were cautious and even frightened of what it meant to move their systems, infrastructure, and data to a platform outside their organization’s four walls. Compound this with blockchain in its purest form—a distributed and possibly shared resource—and you can see why many may be reluctant.

My sentiment, however, is a little different. Creating a solid basis that harnesses the concepts of blockchain with sufficient thought leadership and knowledge-sharing, along with a pragmatic and open-minded approach to problem-solving, can lead to innovative and disruptive outcomes and solid solutions for customers. Blockchain should not be feared, but rather rationalized and demystified, with the goal of making it someday as ubiquitous as the cloud. Blockchain should not be pigeonholed into a specific industry or use case—it is much more that, and it should be much more than that.

Grounding ourselves momentarily, allow me to relay some ideas from both within the enterprise and customers regarding possible use cases for blockchain technology: From placing blockchain at the core of business networks for traceability and auditability, to a way for ordinary people to easily and cheaply post a document as part of a patent process; a way to counteract bootlegging and counterfeiting in commodity supply chain, a way to add an additional layer of security to simple email exchange; from electronic voting systems through to medial record storage. The beauty of blockchain is that its application can scale as big as your imagination allows.

Blockchain is not the staple of the corporate, nor is it limited to grand and expansive development teams—most of the technology is open source, public, and tangible to everyone. It is not an exclusive or expert concept, prohibitive in terms of cost or resource. Blockchain is a new frontier, largely unmined and full of opportunity.

In closing, I invite you to invest some time to do what I did when I first encountered the concept and needed to better understand it. Plug “Blockchain explained simply” (or words to that effect) into your preferred search engine. Find the article that best speaks to you—there are plenty online. Once you get it (and I promise you will) and experience your “eureka!” moment, start to think how blockchain and its concepts might help you solve a business or technical problem.

For more insight on blockchain, see Blockchain’s Value Underestimated, Despite The Hype.

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Ross Doherty

About Ross Doherty

Ross Doherty is a manager in the SAP Innovative Business Solutions team, based in Galway, Ireland. Ross’s team’s focus is in the domain of Business Networks and Innovation. Ross is proud to lead a talented and diverse team of pre-sales, integration, quality management, user assistance and solution architects, and to be serving SAP for almost 4 years.