There are really two main parts to every customer journey: the path the customer follows on her journey of satisfying an objective, and how a retailer supports that path. There are many, many things that impact how well a retailer can support the shopper’s path, and many more things that can disrupt – or enable – retailers as they tackle customer journeys.
However, there are also trends, behaviors, and even disruptive technologies that can impact what the shopper seeks from her customer journey. This is the push and pull that retailers must grapple with – that not only must they work hard to optimize their businesses to be capable of supporting customer journeys, but also what consumers expect from those journeys can, and will, change. In fact, the last twenty years have demonstrated just how much customer expectations can change. And just how hard it is for retailers to keep up.
So what’s next for customer journeys? Three big disruptions appear to loom on the horizon.
Consumer-Driven Disruption: Time
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Consumers have less time to shop. This is a global phenomenon, driven by three main time pressures. One, there are more women in the workforce, which generally means they have less time available to handle “domestic” tasks like grocery or family clothes shopping. No matter how much it would be great if households had an equitable distribution of tasks, the reality is, when women work, there isn’t really a commensurate increase in other household members’ time spent shopping, at least according to US consumer time studies.
Two, people spend a lot more time getting places, especially commuting to work. Theoretically, this could mean more time available to shop, but that would work only if there was a commensurate rise in access to public transportation. Most of the lengthening of commuting times is caused by more cars on the road trying to get places all at the same time – and until self-driving cars become a common thing, that means the driver better have both hands and their full attention on the road and not their phone. An interesting sidebar, retailers like IKEA are already thinking about whether car automation will mean consumers will be able to reverse the time trend, by studying what it is consumers may do during their commutes if they don’t have to drive to get there, so this one could potentially change its impact in the future.
Date: August 01, 2019