Convenience is key in the digital age

In the age of the smartphone, convenience has taken on a whole new meaning

Before the age of the smartphones, if you needed to go and buy a pint of milk, you probably had two options: drive to the nearest supermarket, or walk to your local convenience store.

Nowadays, “convenience” has taken on a whole new meaning. With a tap of your phone screen, it’s possible to order and pay for your milk in a matter of seconds – and drones will soon be able to deliver the milk to your door in less time than it would take you to walk to your local shop.

But while connected devices have undoubtedly made tasks like ordering milk more convenient, they’ve also made the process much more complicated. A simple transaction between customer and cashier is now governed by online intermediaries, who can hijack the process and direct the customer to a particular retailer, product or offer.

For brands, it’s easy to see why this is a scary prospect. How can you build a relationship with consumers when they no longer have to visit your store – or even your website – and they are being presented with a bigger range of retailers, products, services and service providers than ever before?

Decision fatigue

There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg always wears the same grey t-shirt and hoodie. Like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama, he believes in the theory of “decision fatigue”.

Clinical studies have proven that our capacity to take decisions is finite, meaning we find it harder and harder to make choices over the course of the day. As modern life becomes ever more connected, consumers are bombarded with an exhausting array of choices and offers which continues to grow.

In this environment, it’s hardly surprising that people want more personalised offers and services which are convenient, tailored to their need, and simplify or even remove the decisions they need to make about what to eat, what clothes to buy and where to go on holiday.

While Mark Zuckerberg is an extreme example, it’s now common to use apps and other technology to help us combat this “fatigue” and make choices or recommendations on our behalf.

Personalisation

Recent research from American Express found that 32% of British adults expect brands to customise offers to suit their needs, rising to 48% of millennials. The demand for personalised products and services is here.

Brands like Domino’s have been agile in adapting to this landscape. By simplifying the process of ordering pizza right from the initial decision, through to selection and payment, they have made it simpler than ever to order a pizza.

Domino’s identified every touchpoint where the customer journey could be made more convenient. From personalised offers which target consumers through the right channels, to personalisation of menu choices and voice-integrated ordering, we used data to engage and assist the consumer throughout the process.

With so many options now available, brands need to make themselves so convenient, so personalised and so relevant at every stage of the buying process that the consumer doesn’t even need to decide to order a pizza – they just need to say “yes” to one.

Connectivity

As technology becomes ever more connected and integrated into our daily lives, from wearable tech to virtual assistants like Alexa, the need for brands to personalise their interaction with consumers will only increase.

And while this might sound scary, the smart brands realise it presents a major opportunity. The era of drone deliveries and connected homes will open up a world of new opportunities for brands to deliver more personalised and convenient products and services for consumers than ever before.

Leading brands are already finding more inventive ways to make life more convenient for consumers. Amazon is leading the charge in connected homes and cars, with its Echo Show allowing users to watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, monitor security cameras and access everything from shopping lists to weather forecasts hands-free.

The South Western Railway has worked to make its promotional offers more relevant than ever before by geo-targeting them to passengers based on their travel passengers. Never again should a passenger who commutes every day from Woking to London be exposed to offers on advanced off-peak fares to Reading.

For some brands, the battle for relevance might even mean finding a new purpose. TomTom, the navigation and mapping company, has used its technological expertise to move into the personal health space, producing wearable devices which calculate the user’s fitness “age” by gathering health data and comparing it against the general population. It’s a completely different direction, but one which uses the company’s expertise in sensors and data to make consumers’ lives easier.

The key to winning the future is convenience. Brand loyalty may be harder to come by in the digital age, but those that embrace technology and data, and use them to simplify our lives at every touchpoint, can make it easier than ever for consumers to say “yes”.

By Debbie Klein, CEO, Engine Europe and Asia