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It is an understatement to say that digital and technology is central to our lives – and this gives us access to unparalleled amounts of information. The problem with this, states Abigail, Head of Retail at Google Marketing Platform, is that it ends up giving us far too much choice.
We crave the freedom to choose, up to a point. Give us too many options and making a decision becomes mentally fatiguing. Humans have adapted to a point: our brains will seek ways of avoiding that mental strain. “It’s hardly surprising that many of the apps and technologies that have become mainstays of public consciousness are those that help us cut back the scale of choice,” comments Abigail.
Consider those personal curation services like Netflix and Spotify, which use our previous choices to make informed suggestions about similar things we might enjoy. There are also devices and apps that can speed up and simplify payments, or even remove elements of choice altogether, for example, Uber. We love those services which make our lives easier, and they have become the new norm.
Curation was a key element of the promise and proposition of retail, along with price, assortment, and convenience. This refers to things like organising a range of options in a category, leaning on a trusted brand, and giving customers the confidence that they’re being delivered the most relevant options to choose from.
However, in the digital world where we have unlimited visibility over products, services and information, we are now seeing consumers finding their own ways of cutting through the noise and curating for themselves. The problem lies in the amount of work that the consumer still has to do. They are empowered by being able to handle it all themselves, but there are still a lot of choices – they still need help from brands and retailers.
Interestingly enough, around 80% of the UK population is buying online while £8 of every £10 is spent in physical stores – this despite countless headlines telling us that the high street is dying. So, what is going on? Well, the problem might be that we still haven’t managed to nail customer experiences online.
Google calls this the “Age of Assistance”: building a much more integrated and intuitive experience, expecting that this will gradually become much more predictive. How can you apply this across your business? The first step is to accelerate by bringing data into the heart of your business. Next is connect by being present wherever your customer wants to engage. Finally, drive action by delivering amazing assistive experiences.
Download Abigail’s presentation: Sustainable Growth in an Unstable Time