Digitalization and information networks have had a significant impact on how we interact. The impact is especially visible in methods of communication and power relationships.
Digitalization has provided us with new resources for exchanging information. It has become easier to interact and form virtual networks: geographical boundaries and time differences are no longer obstacles to creating new contacts. This has played a role in transforming commerce by providing a wider range of products and services to customers, as we have seen in Finland. It allows us to sample brands that we would ordinarily experience only by traveling abroad.
Innovation, equality and transparency take on greater importance online, as access is free for all. The Internet has changed the power relationships surrounding consumption, since its interactivity means that anyone can consume and produce information. Transparency and the quick and easy distribution of information have strengthened the consumers’ position: we are more product- and price-aware, but we’re also more impatient than ever. We shop wherever the products we want are most easily and quickly available.
As a result, customer insight and the customer experiences it can create have become priceless in the online environment. According to the old proverb, a loyal customer is a profitable customer. Simon Russell, retail operations director of the British department store chain John Lewis, delivered the keynote address at the recently concluded Commerce 2016 event in Helsinki. He said that omnichannel customers buy 3.5 times as much as customers who do business via a single channel. This is naturally supported by a uniform and consistent customer experience.
It has been predicted that by the year 2020 customer experience will become a company’s most critical competitive advantage. How we take advantage of digital channels in sales and advertising – on the basis of interaction and influence – will determine whether or not we succeed in the future. Finnish retail company Kesko’s chief digital officer Anni Ronkainen has observed that the Internet’s lack of boundaries, free-form structure and scalability have created many opportunities, a mere one percent of which are currently being utilized.
A memorable customer experience demands dedication to interaction – we already have the foundation for it – but is it on businesses’ agendas?
Read how the most important new businesses will be created by disrupting old business models and by using existing resources in a new way.