Hack the future, be prepared

November 26, 2019 | By RetailME Bureau

How are consumer shifts shaping tomorrow for businesses and beyond?

“Technology is changing consumer behaviour. Technology pieces such as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) are a means to connect people to businesses, which will become increasingly relevant as we look into the future. And the future is two months down the road, with 2020 being the tipping point in a lot of the consumer shifts that we are seeing,” stated Shant Oknayan, group director – MENA for Facebook, during his address at the Middle East Retail Forum (MRF) 2019.

The world in 2020 will be one in which most people will have access to the internet than not. The vast majority of the world’s newly connected people – almost 52.4% – will access the internet primarily, if not entirely, through a mobile device. By 2020, mobile will make over 50% of retail e-commerce in some places like the UK. By 2020, 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video. By 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human.

“Importantly, millennials will constitute half of the global workforce in 2020,” Oknayan pointed out. “That’s not all; the future of our businesses will sit with Centennials/Gen Z – born between 1996 and now – as they are tomorrow’s consumers.”

Cue to businesses – 80% of millennials and Gen Z expect mobile ads to target their location, interests and habits. At the same time, these consumers increasingly see the entire world as their marketplace; 70% of online shoppers, globally, have shopped cross-border at some point.

“We are entering a whole new world, which will be here in just a matter of months. And we need to prepare for that new world from today,” Oknayan recommended.

So, how do businesses prepare for this change?

“People are looking for authenticity in engaging with businesses they care. They are looking for inspiration through experience created by leveraging technology,” Oknayan observed. “Global shoppers are ready for technologies like virtual reality (VR), with 59% trying on make-up and apparel using VR.”

“People want things instantly once they have made up their minds, while also desiring interaction,” Oknayan observed. While 89% of people who were part of a survey expected a brand to respond to them within 24 hours, 56.6% of businesses still can’t be contacted by social media.

“Poor experiences drive consumers away from brands,” Oknayan pointed out. Around 83.5% of shoppers are unlikely to shop with a brand again after a miserable experience. Every year, in the US alone, up to $213 billion worth of online orders are lost in 2019, owing to friction or inadequate checkout flows.

“What got you here will not take you until and beyond 2020,” Oknayan cautioned. “So, break down the frameworks constraining your business; create seamless, personalised experiences through automation; start communicating differently by breaking down barriers – across gender, generation and geography. Finally, put mobile at the forefront of what you do.”




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