From Amazon Prime to Alibaba, it is the speed of virtual or physical delivery that has thrilled users in what has been dubbed ‘the Now Economy’ – a time when products, services and experiences are delivered in an instant.
As this demand evolves and the now economy becomes an expectation, retailers need to adapt to keep up. This means understanding the shift in consumer behaviours, being aware of advances in retail and service provision, and knowing how to leverage these changes to achieve a competitive advantage.
It is no secret that customer experience is driving the retail evolution and constantly creating new challenges to serve. Today, online retailers are expected to know who their customers are, what they want and, more importantly, how to reach them in a fast and cost effective manner.
Even more valued by consumers is the ability for brands to make accurate suggestions. Take Amazon’s Treasure Truck. This is a truck that cruises around towns in the US and is stocked with a hand-picked, must-have item at a discount. Customers are alerted via text about that day’s must-have item, they can then buy it on Amazon and meet the truck and pick up their goods at a convenient location.
It is technology advancements like this in retail and service provision that are allowing businesses to not only keep up with this expectation, but exceed it. Another example is anticipatory shipping, a system of delivering products to customers before they even place an order. Anticipatory shipping uses analytics and algorithms to anticipate what consumers will order and begin the delivery process by shipping the product to a nearby distribution centre – all before they’ve even added it to their cart. With half the delivery process already complete, retailers only need to fulfil that last mile between the distribution centre and customer.
Instantaneous service and delivery is a critical part of the now economy and something retailers cannot afford to ignore. Whereas sale days, like Black Friday, Cyber Monde and Single’s Day, used to be a much-anticipated biannual event, they are now common occurrences. This is all well and good, as long as retailers are prepared and can cope with and fulfil the surge in orders. The reality is many retailers struggle to cope with the demand from such events and fall short in terms of their delivery service.
Retailers can accelerate growth opportunities with a global trade network and immersing themselves in an ecosystem of supply chain partners that allows for multiple delivery options and carrier choices. Today, the platform of choice needs to be flexible and adapt to all channel partners – the key is to connect supply chain partners through easily accessible technology. Not only does a network provide better visibility and optimisation across the entire process, true end-to-end collaborative visibility allows for faster reaction when disruption occurs, especially during peak periods.
The now economy presents a massive opportunity for Asian retailers. Until retailers alter their business processes in a way that allows them to adapt to and service changing consumer purchasing behaviours, they won’t be able to keep up with growing demand. Understanding the shift in consumer behaviours, being aware of the advancement in retail and service provision, and knowing how to leverage these changes will help retailers achieve a competitive advantage.