A sanctuary of comfort that restores the heart, mind, and body – that was my vision when I started my home renovation. Throughout the project, my expectation was high for a home I would love. I painstakingly curated everything from the faucets and tiles in my bathroom to the lighting fixtures and the unique doorknobs used throughout my flat. I even found the perfect vase, which is now holding blooms that reflect the natural beauty of my home country.
But my vision wasn’t fully realized overnight by indulging in a shopping spree at a local store. I dedicated many weeks to checking out products by visiting dealer networks, stores, online retailers, and official brand sites, as well as using price comparison engines on my mobile device.
While I am an equal opportunity shopper, the consumer products companies that won my business were the ones that leveraged a direct-to-consumer approach. Why? The answer is quite simple: I always felt they understood me, championed my needs, and delivered on their promises. And thanks to them, my flat is becoming a personal oasis.
Moving the consumer experience from carts to hearts
A direct-to-consumer model draws the attention of shoppers. (It certainly did with me!) But this is not where the advantages of this approach end. This approach is about knowing your consumers intimately enough to provide what they want and how they want it. Even when I finished my purchase transactions online or in the store, the quality of information provided by the brand site often moved me to make my final choice.
When consumer product companies cater to individual shopper’s needs in a way that reflects the value of the brand, consumers who feel the brand championed their needs are more likely to become the brand’s best advocates. And such a result can be achieved whether the interaction is in a brick-and-mortar store, e-commerce shop, online chat messenger, or social media post.
Take, for example, my interaction with Hansgrohe when I purchased one of an extensive line of faucets. As a leading provider of high-quality faucets for bathrooms and kitchens, the consumer products manufacturer is using a holistic digital platform to ensure commerce data is shared across all channels. This structure allows the business to take in consumer feedback to adjust delivery status and inventory levels, for instance, based on real-time information that can be accessed with ease 24×7.
Acquiring the insights to drive a direct-to-consumer experience
Before such a direct-to-consumer model is possible, consumer products companies require data from their shoppers – in both in aggregate and as individuals. Otherwise, they can’t acquire the insights they need to deliver a highly valued experience.
A digital foundation of consumer identity, consent, and profile solutions empowers businesses to capture, process, and analyze shopper information while complying with cybersecurity requirements such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
According to Forrester Consulting report “The Forrester Wave: Customer Identity and Access Management, Q2 2017,” personalized, trusted digital experiences are best enabled by customer identity and access management (CIAM) tools that facilitate five fundamental capabilities:
- Streamlined new customer acquisition and registration: Allow customers to bring their own identity from a recognized social identity provider such as Facebook, WeChat, Google, LinkedIn, or PayPal to preregister on the commerce site. This approach minimizes registration fatigue and profile abandonment.
- Compliant user consent practices as prescribed by global privacy requirements: Give consumers a reason to trust that the data they exchange is protected and used as they dictate. This social bond is not only crucial for the consumer relationship, but also for the brand’s reputation and desire to avoid hefty fines for violations.
- User-centric preference management: Offer consumers the freedom to update their profile and data-sharing preferences. The importance of strong privacy management cannot be underestimated when collecting and using personal data.
- A consistent and secure omnichannel user experience: Remove friction from any aspect of the shopping experience that could cause consumers to seek out competitors’ services. Building a consistent and compelling customer interaction – regardless of access method and channel – helps ensure consistent consumer engagement and loyalty.
- Insightful identity reporting and analytics: Collect a wide range of data about your customers’ interactions. A platform of CIAM tools can share this information across the company’s ecosystem of business intelligence systems. This technology allows every function of the business to leverage insights that can determine, for example, price points and promotional events while ensuring a balance of profitability and inventory levels.
The strength of CIAM tools will undoubtedly continue to grow as artificial intelligence and machine learning become embedded features, like experience management platforms for example. Over time, they will accelerate decision-making to the point that optimizes conversion rates, average sale value, and customer experience and loyalty.
Building closer consumer relationships to take on disruption and opportunity
A new generation of disruptive brands is shaking up the consumer products industry and their retailers. Direct-to-consumer experiences, e-commerce, and subscriptions are all giving rise to competitors that are building, marketing, selling, and shipping product themselves without a partner separating them from their consumers.
Each of these new models is putting consumers firmly in control of the consumer products industry. But this doesn’t mean sellers should give up the good fight. Instead, they should take advantage of these moments by using technology to sense, analyze, and act in the moment and throughout the value network with real-time market signals generated by the constant interaction of people, technology, products, and services.
For more insight, see “Direct-to-Consumer: The Power Of Personalized Content.”