There’s a widening gap between where digital technology is leading us and what many retail consumers are psychologically prepared for. On one hand, having our favorite brands recommend products, or allowing us to flow effortlessly between physical stores and online sites, or providing personalized offers, is preferred if not required to stay relevant. But, this “Shoppers Paradise” is not free. It requires data and knowledge of the customer to be captured and mined. Yet many consumers today are not ready to jump in – lacking a clear understanding about why retailers need their information and what they will do with it – hence a “Shoppers Paradox”.
West Monroe Partners worked with BearingPoint Europe on a piece that explored this phenomenon in their 2012 BearingPoint Institute:
Our Customer Experience team believes in the next 3 years, gathering in-store shopper data will become the standard. And while boutique retailers whose brand targets the Millennials will usher in the adoption, large retailers like Target and Nordstrom will find their stride in a “brand appropriate” way. We base our prognosis on (1) known exploration and investment by major retailers (2) the resurgent role of the brick and mortar store (3) and, despite the consumer psychology “lag cycle” – ultimate adoption of technology driven by the growing Digital Generations.
Our advice to retailers for the next 6-12 months is continued field-testing in ways that align with the brand and add value to the consumer. Discover what shoppers are willing to provide you and what they expect in return. Many retailers are building labs to simulate the shopping experience and inviting customers to provide feedback. We support this method, and believe the more exploration and insight retailers gather, the better position they will be in to provide a Shoppers Paradise.