Meeting consumers with tech to drive loyalty

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Meeting consumers with tech to drive loyalty

By Jason Cottrell, Myplanet - 10/26/2020

A decade ago the idea of customers checking themselves out seemed outrageous; today you would be hard-pressed to find a major grocery or drugstore chain without a self-checkout system (and many are racing toward the checkout-less future Amazon has been spearheading). The rate of technological change in retail is impressive, but while retailers are excited by the potential of this new tech, it’s important to ask how consumers feel. What kind of retail tech do they want? How do they feel about the sweeping changes to their shopping experiences? And how soon will they be ready for the next one?

To help answer these questions, we at Myplanet conducted a survey, Robots Among Us, every six months to gauge consumer comfort levels with a variety of new technologies. We look at a cross-section of current, near-horizon, and long-term consumer tech options, but some of the most telling findings have been in the retail sector.

As store brands continue to gain in popularity and comfort level with consumers, and intersect more with grocery technology, it’s interesting to know what the consumer pain points are with technology.

Take digital loyalty apps: loyalty programs can increase customer retention, lead to significant profit increase, and are a key area for growing a customer base. Based on our survey results, people 55+ have a much stronger aversion (40% discomfort) to loyalty app technology than people 54 and younger (26.25% discomfort). This tells us a couple of important things. First, young people, in particular, can be turned into lifelong customers with the right mix of convenience and reward. And second, the meaning of “convenience” can shift generationally.

Understanding not only how consumers are reacting to the latest technologies being introduced to their retail experiences, but also what the motivating factors are behind those feelings, will enable us to bring solutions that resonate to our customers.

Scannable cards work well with older adults, who are more likely to carry physical wallets and to prefer the simplicity of a card, but the younger set wants mobile access. This is great news for retailers. An app makes engagement with the loyalty program more consistent (people are less likely to lose or forget their phone), and it offers additional benefits for retailers. Apps can gather data that leads to crucial insights to help brands deliver better customer experiences and increase customer engagement over time.

Now let’s look at the aforementioned self-checkout. It shows a fairly low level of discomfort at around 23%, but where we might expect older adults (55+) to have the highest level of strong aversion, it’s actually the 35- to 44-year-olds. This group includes the start of the millennial cohort, a group that was raised on the cusp of so many everyday technologies. Why don’t they like the self-checkout experience?

One possible reason millennials aren’t as inclined towards self-checkout could be that it’s actually quite inconvenient in certain circumstances. 35- to 44-year-olds are in the prime of their child-rearing and family-care years—they tend to have a lot of items, they’re trying to keep track of young children, and their minds are on a million things at once. Self-checkout is not a simpler option for them; it is infinitely more complicated.

For retailers looking to discern where future investments need to be made, this group is pivotal. Primary shoppers in multi-person households have baskets nearly double the size of single-person households. Ignoring their challenges and pain points could mean a significant loss in sales. The survey data helps us surface patterns and identify friction that can inform which solutions we build.

Understanding not only how consumers are reacting to the latest technologies being introduced to their retail experiences, but also what the motivating factors are behind those feelings, will enable us to bring solutions that resonate to our customers, improving customer experiences and driving better business outcomes at the same time.

Scannable cards work well with older adults, who are more likely to carry physical wallets and to prefer the simplicity of a card, but the younger set wants mobile access. This is great news for retailers. An app makes engagement with the loyalty program more consistent (people are less likely to lose or forget their phone), and it offers additional benefits for retailers. Apps can gather data that leads to crucial insights to help brands deliver better customer experiences and increase customer engagement over time.

Now let’s look at the aforementioned self-checkout. It shows a fairly low level of discomfort at around 23%, but where we might expect older adults (55+) to have the highest level of strong aversion, it’s actually the 35- to 44-year-olds. This group includes the start of the millennial cohort, a group that was raised on the cusp of so many everyday technologies. Why don’t they like the self-checkout experience?

One possible reason millennials aren’t as inclined towards self-checkout could be that it’s actually quite inconvenient in certain circumstances. 35- to 44-year-olds are in the prime of their child-rearing and family-care years—they tend to have a lot of items, they’re trying to keep track of young children, and their minds are on a million things at once. Self-checkout is not a simpler option for them; it is infinitely more complicated.

For retailers looking to discern where future investments need to be made, this group is pivotal. Primary shoppers in multi-person households have baskets nearly double the size of single-person households. Ignoring their challenges and pain points could mean a significant loss in sales. The survey data helps us surface patterns and identify friction that can inform which solutions we build.

Understanding not only how consumers are reacting to the latest technologies being introduced to their retail experiences, but also what the motivating factors are behind those feelings, will enable us to bring solutions that resonate to our customers, improving customer experiences and driving better business outcomes at the same time.

Jason Cottrell is Founder and CEO of Myplanet, a software studio that provides solutions to companies such as Uber, Google, Delta, Salesforce, and more.

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