Smart technology – a revolution in buying behavior
Smart refrigerator or not? At first glance, the difference really isn’t that great. In the future, technical consumer goods will mostly remain long-term investments with product life cycles of several years. Yet, the way in which we select, buy and use technology, will be revolutionized in the next five to ten years. That’s the conclusion of an expert survey the GfK Verein carried out in cooperation with the ISCM Institute at the University for Applied Management. The Internet of Things (IoT) and increasing digitalization enable providers to better understand customers for one thing, and, for another, to personalize technical products and services. Even today, new technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics or voice and gesture control offer a glimpse of what could become reality very soon. The relationships manufacturers and retailers have with customers will radically and permanently change and become more interactive. Therefore, it is necessary to rethink ways of creating emotional and positive shopping and product experiences in an IoT context.
The customer journey reinvented– a relationship revolution
Even modern versions of the digital-analog customer journey continue to be rooted more in the thinking of the twentieth century than in the digital opportunities of the twenty-first: a purchasing decision as a consciously managed process following a funnel logic and characterized by individual touchpoints in its individual phases (see Figure 1). This view implicitly assumes that consumers lack and need information which is not readily available. Additionally, the market situation is judged to lack transparency, and time budgets and information processing capacities are assumed to be limited. Connected products and the ubiquitous availability of networks and cloud-services create new conditions. Everybody can now be reached anytime, generating diverse data that can easily and quickly be accessed. This leads to a market transparency that has never existed before and also massively affects the customer journey. Better information, education and knowledge cause more transparency and make the whole journey more flexible, more individual and significantly shorter. It happens in multiple, partially automatized and is less predictable for manufacturers and retailers. The classical customer journey with its touchpoints is transformed into a lifelong, interactive customer relationship within an IoT-based product-service-ecosystem (Figure 1).