Tag Archives: Consumer

How The Consumer Experience is Driven by “I Need to Know Moments”

According to Forrester’s 2015 Customer Experience Index (Forrester, 2015), 86% of companies want to excel at customer experience. But only 27% of brands even qualify as “good” in the eyes of their customers.

Today’s omni-channel consumers expect brands to address their needs in real-time and turn to their mobile devices when contemplating making a purchase.  A wealth of information is a mere tap away via our smartphone apps and a poor experience can be easily replaced with another viable option a click away.

These intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping have fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time “I want to buy” micro-moments of decision-making and preference-shaping, as termed by Google.  

Today’s Shoppers Demand Information Right Here & Right Now

Welcome to the new world order of 24/7 great expectations shaped by customers who expect to be able to make more intent driven decisions with a seamless experience.

Today’s shoppers demand product information in real-time. Whether it be trusted and authentic reviews, product photos or nutritional information, as consumers we’ve come to want exceptional experiences exactly when and where we want it.  And nowhere is it more apparent than in retail.  

  • Fully stocked shelves bursting with variety? Done.  
  • Loyalty program? Goes without saying.  
  • Free overnight delivery? Naturally.  

But these great expectations go beyond the “what” and are firmly rooted in the “how.”  And that’s all about “Omni-channel” being touted as shopping’s new norm.  The bar has been raised and the expectations are clear.  Consumers expect that retailers will/better deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices.

Omni-Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Reality for Retailers

For the retailer, omni-channel requires overlapping to ensure that the customer remains delighted and perceives a seamless experience from end to end. Helping a customer through their entire buyer’s journey means knocking down internal barriers to hold their hand at each stage, making sure that each hand-off is perfect. (BigCommerce, 2016)

An Aberdeen survey (Internet Retailer, 2013) cites that companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to customer retention rate of 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

Fortunately, many online retailers and suppliers have already enabled omni-channel functions and are clearly seeing the benefits. They’ve made the required investments in understanding their consumers’ needs and then tailored the rest of the organization to meeting those needs.

It’s An Omni-Channel World After All: Engaging Consumers and Connecting Trusted Product Data Everywhere

By enabling products to stand out in a crowded omni-channel world, 1WorldSync delivers rich and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights – to engage customers and consumers – regardless of location or medium. 1WorldSync’s Omni-Channel solutions helps leading retailers capitalize on product information to drive conversion.  

Walmart is one such retailer that views the omni-channel shopper as its sweet spot. At its annual shareholders meeting last year, Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon addressed the importance of an omni-channel strategy (Marketing Land, 2015). He said that Walmart will keep making technology top of mind when it comes to internal and external customer facing initiatives.

“I want us to stop talking about digital and physical retail as if they’re two separate things. The customer doesn’t think of it that way, and we can’t either. One customer can shop with us in so many different ways – in stores, on their phones, at homes, a pick-up point. But they just think they’re shopping at Walmart, at ASDA, at Sam’s Club.”

Exceeding Expectations and Creating Stellar Experiences For Omni-Channel Customers

Conversely, there are countless other retailers that are lagging behind – whether they’ve taken a few wrong turns or are just late to the game.  The consumer’s great expectation remains regardless.

A survey by Synthetix (Synthetix, 2016) indicates that 9 out of 10 customers expect to receive a consistent experience over multiple channels. They expect a valuable, memorable and story-worthy experience.  They expect detailed and consistent product content to aid in decision making.  They expect to see this same level of detail when shopping for another product in another department. They expect a single view with a wide array of efficient and convenient options. And they expect to shop at any time from any number of devices – such as their PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Clearly, given the consumer’s mighty requirements for an integrated omni-channel shopping experience, retailers and suppliers must move quickly to deliver on those soaring expectations or risk the curse of any industry irrelevance.

 

  1. “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015 – Forrester.” 6 Oct. 2016<https://www.forrester.com/report/The+US+Customer+Experience+Index+Q1+2015/-/E-RES117482>
  2.  “Omni-Channel Retail and The Future of Commerce – BigCommerce.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/omni-channel-retail/>
  3. “Why an omnichannel strategy matters – Internet Retailer.” 2013. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.internetretailer.com/2013/12/31/why-omnichannel-strategy-matters>
  4. “Walmart positioned to drive omni-channel marketing in global retailing.” 2015. 5 Aug. 2015 <http://marketingland.com/walmart-positioned-drive-omni-channel-marketing-global-retailing-137007>
  5. “The rise of demand for multi-channel online customer service – Synthetix.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <http://www.synthetix.com/website_documents/Synthetix_Online_Customer_Service_Survey_2012.pdf>

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Product Information

Nothing symbolizes summer in America more than the fourth of July. Barbecues, fireworks and flags waving in the breeze are everywhere you turn. The US of A celebrates her 240th birthday this year and honestly America, you don’t look a day over 220! Seriously, have you had work done?? America the Beautiful is taking health and wellness more seriously than ever before. From what we eat, use to care for our homes and bodies and almost any other consumer product you can think of, access to product information and transparency rules the decision-making process. Let’s discuss how the tradition of Independence Day has transformed over the past generation and what the possibilities are for the future, shall we?!

Barbecues! This tradition is strong and there is no way anyone will ever pull dad away from his grill or pry the tongs out of his hands. What has changed is what gets put on that grill. You may find that nitrate-filled hot dogs and pre-cut hamburger patties are a thing of the past. As people become more concerned with things like preservatives, carcinogens, and animal cruelty, you’re more likely to be served organic chicken sausage, grass-fed beef burgers and of course a vegetarian option like a black bean burger or deviled eggs (cage-free of course!). Beyond just ingredients, food safety and traceability continue to be of high importance and Uncle Sam will only continue to demand more product information from the foodservice industry.

Whether it’s beaches, parks or just your backyard, summer gatherings all (hopefully) have one thing in common – good ol’ Mr. Sun. We all want to have fun in the sun, but without the sting of a sunburn later on. What used to be a simple decision between SPF 15 or 30 has now become an endless list of choices: spray or lotion, safe for children, face or body, waterproof or water resistant, and on and on and ON! I just don’t want to feel sticky and disgusting all day, kthanksbye! But we live and we learn; from premature wrinkles to melanoma, the sun is not to messed with and the public has made it very clear to brand owners that they demand full transparency for sun protection products – and boy did they deliver, yeesh!

No fourth of July celebration would be complete without the iconic firework display. Back in my day, we would set these babies off right in our backyard. How times have changed. This pastime is now, for the most part, completely illegal, but honestly, what were we thinking? “Hey I have a great idea, how about after we drink all day in the sun (sans protection!), we set off some explosives!?” Super smart #eyeroll. Now we all congregate in a wide open space where we can SAFELY view the fireworks from afar without the worry of them backfiring or exploding in our faces. We have also come to know that these loud noises are not so fun for our furry friends, so we keep them out of residential neighborhoods as well. If you can’t make it out to your community fireworks but still want the essence of the holiday, stick to harmless sparklers :)

1WorldSync understands that consumer demands drive business. The more information they have, the more information they want, so companies are only going to have to provide more information in as many ways as possible in the shortest amount of time. 1WorldSync solutions for transparency and compliance, such as the SmartLabel solution,  can help your business to meet these demands and regulations, now and in the future! America seems to be moving in a positive direction to keep ourselves and our families safe and informed, but the only constant in life is change, so in another 20 years we’ll look back on a whole host of new advancements and trends. So, whatever your plans are for July 4th weekend, remember you have the freedom to choose products that meet your standards!

2016 Readers’ Choice: Mobility

Originally posted in Readers Choice of CGT – A Short List of the Best Technology & Services Providers to the Industry

According to Peter Drucker, “Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation.” But with the pace of innovation and technology quickening we might want to think on using a new portmanteau; TECHNOVATION.

Technovation suggests that marketers must recognize the accelerating pace of evolving technology, now inextricably linked to adapting consumers, while adjusting our comprehension and organizational structures to embrace not just the obvious, e.g., big data and analytics, but also how consumers, themselves, view their online and offline lives as part of a seamless whole. Marketers must understand that technovation is not only about understanding what consumers are doing with technology, but also what technology is doing to them.

Mary Meeker of KPCB notes that since 2008, the time an adult spends on digital media has gone from 2.7 to 5.6 hours per day, and that mobile has increased from 12 percent of that time spent to 51 percent. In June 2015, Pew Research noted that a fifth of Americans are ‘almost constantly’ online, with 36 percent of 18 to 29 year olds reporting they are ‘almost constantly’ online. Nielsen recently reported, in the desirable 18 to 34 year old demographic, that 8.5 million people per minute now use smartphones and other TV connected devices, surpassing 8.1 million per minute that use traditional TV screens.
In his book “Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy” Kit Yarrow opines, “our use of technology has changed our psychology” including for innovation optimism, consumer empowerment, faster thinking, symbol power, and new ways of connecting.

The Ericson Institute, in a just released study representing 1.1 billion people across 24 countries found that constantly having a screen in the palm of your hand is not always a practical solution, however. Prognosticators now believe this technology will be a thing of the past, perhaps in fewer than five years.

What might make this forecast a reality? The Internet-of-Things has already taken hold, and Virtual Reality now has a purchase on popular imagination. Watch for a plethora of new form factors, from flexible screens, to wearables, to implantables. The computing power driving this technology is readily available and rapidly evolving. IBM has Watson, and Google claims its “D-Wave Quantum Computer” will be 100 million times faster than any of today’s machines. If true, D-Wave could theoretically solve a mathematical problem within seconds that would take today’s digital computer 10,000 years to calculate.

This kind of computing power, linked to Artificial Intelligence, coupled with new user form factors, will drive innovation for the next era of digital communication making possible – quite literally – commerce-at-the-speed-of-thought.

A brave new world is upon us, taking shape around us and with all of us as participants and innovators in our own right.
Hail the consumer!

Technology, Transparency & Trust

The Three Pillars Defining Our Age

In our last blog, we discussed current pressures impacting the consumer markets, including the FDA’s Public Law 111-353 through its “Food Safety Modernization Act”, as well as from other governmental and ‘watchdog’ groups’ reviewing the food industry.

But we are now living in an age that is going beyond government mandates, because whether you are in the automobile or the peanut butter business, Transparency & Trust have become ‘headline’ concerns not just for regulators but ever more, and no less importantly, for consumers. And, in light of the latest news from the automotive industry, we must now acknowledge the irrefutable reality that there are, beyond government penalties, other consequences for brand equity and the managers who manage it.

In the recent past, most business have lived in the “IT” or Information Technology era, with an emphasis on the ‘T’- the technology aspect of the collection and storage of data. Advances in technology are now pushing us toward the Information (‘I’) age or Zettabyte epoch where the capture, storage and retrieval of information, and its access to all, is virtually unlimited. In this evolving new age, the mantra is … ‘If information can be known … it will be known!’

For today’s ‘Connected Consumer’, the entire universe of information is only a click away. Social media platforms, blogs and apps are keeping everyone constantly connected. Individuals increasingly feel the need to know—and share —everything. Whether its product reviews, political opinions, a family vacation, a dinner pic, or even their innermost thoughts, people are living their lives completely out in the open, laying bare all manner of minutiae online. And, while brands are noticing and looking for new ways to create corresponding connections they, too, are being laid bare.

As a result, consumers today are personally experiencing and demanding Transparency, before giving Trust. For a brand or a business, Trust from their customers and employees is critical. Transparency, is now an information technology mechanism that allows Connected Consumers access to information that defines a certain innate dissonance which always exists between disbelief and belief. Technology and Transparency therefore combine to determine the level –and increasingly a measurable level– of ‘Trust’ that is so critical to the success of a business and a brand.

Russell Ackoff, a noted academic and business consultant, often chided his students and clients to “stop doing the wrong things righter and do the right things.” Technology, Transparency & Trust are forcing marketplace change— a change that no longer allows a business to do the wrong things righter to enhance the P&L—it is a change that requires business to do the right things.

Hail the Consumer!

To learn more:
Brand
Etailer

As Global Vice President for the Consumer Markets, Michael Forhez, who recently joined 1WorldSync, brings 20 plus years of diversified experience in sales, marketing and management consulting. Frequently called upon to write and speak on subjects germane to the consumer markets, Michael is currently responsible for evangelizing 1WorldSync offerings within the Consumer Products and Retail sectors while engaging various stakeholders to better understand their collective requirements.

4 Steps to Delivering High Quality Product Information Using the GDSN

The need for product information is on the rise; everyone wants it and everyone needs it. From your procurement officer to your end consumer, product information is impacting your business’s bottom line. Whether that impact is positive or negative is greatly dependent on the quality of your product information. Enabling your business to deliver high quality product information sets your business up for success in today’s market place. As the global leader in enabling trusted product information exchange, 1WorldSync has identified 4 key steps to delivering quality product information to trading partners:

  1. Understand what information is needed to support your products
    a. Discover what information is needed to register your items within the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)
    i. Some required information needed to register your items in the Global Registry includes:
    1. Global Location Number (GLN)
    2. Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), make sure to follow the GTIN allocation rules
    3. Understanding how to build Product Hierarchies
    b. Visit the Landing pages of the Recipients you wish to publish data to in order to understand the specific content requirements each recipient is looking for on your products.
    i. Understand what Top-off attributes are needed to ensure a complete item record is published to your recipients. These may or may not be part of a standard GDSN attribute set.
    ii. Some of the Recipients have provided a portal for you to see their entire requirements. An example of this is Kroger’s VIP Portal access.
    iii. Utilize tools like The Attribute Graph (TAG) to gain further insight into the requirements across multiple recipients at one time.
  2. Build up a process for information gathering and governance to ensure you product records meet the information needs of your recipients.
    a. Gather the needed information or attributes of your product discovered during step 1. These attributes may be stored in several locations across your organization.
    i. GDSN Core
    ii. Recipient Core
    iii. Recipient Extended information sets
    iv.  Digital Assets
    b. Instituting a foundation of Data Governance at the start
    i. Understanding who owns the information or attributes and values within your organization
    ii. Is there a cleanup processed needed on your information to ensure it meets all requirements discovered in Step 1?
  3. Determine the right distribution method to get your content to your recipients through GDSN
    a. Automated information uploads and publications utilizing XML
    b. Manual Portal entry
    c. Select a data loading service
  4. Maintain and Support your product information. Once you synchronize your information to the recipient, the process has not finished.  There may be specific clarifications or inconsistencies that you need to address.  Also recipients are continuing to expand their need for information on your products.
    a. Review Data Accuracy Score Cards provided by recipients to highlight information challenges.
    b. Stay up to date on the latest recipient requirements
    i. Landing Pages
    ii. TAG
    c. Utilize the business and governance processes put into place during step 2.
    i. Information is constantly changing as marketing and brand owners continue to customize and position their products towards specific end consumers. These changes in information need to flow to your recipients to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction for your products.
    ii. Digital Assets are the face of your product in a digital world. If there are changes to the package, a new image is needed.

Read more about how global industry leaders are leveraging 1WorldSync to enable their businesses for trusted product information exchange. Click here to learn more.

Transparency in the Era of Mobile and Social

Blog originally featured in Supply & Demand Chain Executive business magazine on July 7, 2015.

Information flows quicker and easier than it ever did before. Long gone are the days when we heard about yesterday’s news in the morning paper. Asking someone for directions seems like a quaint ritual of our parents. Asking a hotel concierge for dining recommendations feels like a chore.

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Transforming the Global Healthcare Landscape

Blog originally featured in Supply & Demand Chain Executive business magazine on July 20, 2015.

The effects of inaccurate product information across the supply chain are tremendous, particularly in the healthcare industry where its implications can mean the difference between wellness and illness, life and death. In recent years, the impact of flawed product information ricocheted through the healthcare supply chain, resulting in significant challenges to the industry, driving increases in operational costs and impacting the quality of patient care.

Healthcare reform, increased transparency and traceability requirements, and poor data quality are just a few of the elements that are contributing to greater costs of doing business for healthcare organizations. In the meantime, product recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts weakened government and consumer trust in the industry, resulting in greater scrutiny and heavier governmental regulation. In an industry that is global by nature, the necessity for a standardized approach to supply chain management is imperative to keep costs down, and ensure the safety and well-being of end recipients.

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Transparency – The New Consumer and Corporate Social Mandate

For some time now we have been living in an era of Transparency. Transparency in our policies and procedures, transparency in the business practices we operate, and transparency in the products and services we buy in business and in our daily lives. The transparent manner in which consumers expect to discover, buy and express opinions about products or services is the new norm for any business that expects to flourish in the mobile social economy.

Product information is in demand throughout the entire discover-to-review lifecycle, and at virtually every touch point of the consumer experience. Understanding the importance and value of product information transparency and its accessibility is simple, however, delivering it efficiently and seamlessly is anything but simple. Businesses must revisit the manner in which product information is created, exploded, standardized, quality assured and syndicated to all parties that enable the consumer experience.

Consumer demand for transparency and accountability is forcing businesses and entire industries to revisit the way product information is sourced, aggregated, distributed and labeled. Years ago, the seller was in control as purchase decisions were based on the availability, convenience and brand. The paradigm has shifted, and with an abundance of choice in front of them, consumers are making selections not simply on brand or availability, but on the attributes about the product. 

Compounding this even further, a plethora of global legal and regulatory mandates have been put into place, requiring Brand Owners and Sellers to comply with product information centric regulations. For example, EU Food Regulation 1169 or FDA’s Unique Device Identification. Such regulations are another compelling force for companies all around the globe to take a closer look at the digital information chain that accompanies their products as they pass along transitional and new Omni-channels to market.

For 1WorldSync, product information transparency gets to the heart of everything we do. Our mission is to empower global businesses and consumers with trusted product information that enables improved decision making, efficiency, health and well-being.

Our Product Information Cloud platform purpose was built to deliver syndicated product information solutions and services to customers around the globe that rely on product information to power their businesses. For many of our 16,000 customers, the ability to mobilize a product information transparency program is a logical next step on top of the solid product information management foundations they have built with us over the last decade or more.

Every industry we operate in is actively investing in software and processes transformation that enables transparency. From the product development, to aggregation and management of product data at the manufacturer to setting up an item for sale at a retail or online store, to presenting that information to the consumer.

It is such a hot topic this year that we have made it the focus of our annual customer user conferences in both the USA at GS1 Connect, and in our EMEA customer event alongside ECR Europe this year. 

The Commerce Metric That Matters

E-commerce as a sales channel for the retail industry continues to grow. Currently, e-commerce accounts for about 6% of overall retail sales, and about 11% of the top 30 product categories, according to Forrester.  The growth rate of e-commerce sales is currently estimated around 15% annually, much higher than that of traditional in store sales.

But, with that said, many look at that one metric, e-commerce sales and can be mislead because it is relatively small at 6%.  So even with good growth, it will remain a very small, niche “channel” in the minds of many retailers.

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The Era of Contextual Shopping

Digital technologies are transforming the way we shop. E-commerce and smartphones have raised the expectation consumers have about their shopping experience. One of those expectations is around personalization. Amazon knows what brands I buy, what type of product I’m searching for, what special events I have in my life, what types of new products I might find interesting, and many other things. This allows Amazon to create a very personalized experience for me as a shopper. Product recommendations and deals often resonate very well with me, and encourage me to make a purchase.

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