Our Founder and CEO, Luigi Matrone, was invited to talk to one of the world’s leading food processing and packaging companies about the key eCommerce trends transforming the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. In the first of a series of blog posts stemming from Luigi’s presentation, we look at the emergence and influence of what we call ‘The Smart Consumer’.
eBusiness Institute CEO Luigi Matrone is one of the world’s leading experts on digital transformation, eCommerce, and the digital trends impacting retail. If you would like to see Luigi’s keynote slides relating to this topic, please download them here.
The Smart Consumer – serving the future needs of online shoppers
People are becoming increasingly savvy and particular when it comes to shopping and making choices online. And, as technology evolves and data becomes ubiquitous, the Smart Consumer will fine-tune everything they do.
Artificial intelligence will nudge and guide them through this process of life-enhancement. Their super-intelligent AI ‘companion’ will be at their command, and with them everywhere at all times. AI will help the Smart Consumer to optimise all their choices – from what they buy or eat to how they feel and spend their free time.
With eCommerce sales expected to reach $4.2trillion by 2020, companies will have to reinvent themselves in order to match the needs of this new breed of consumers.
What are the key drivers of the Smart Consumer’s shopping habits?
In short, there are five:
- Convenience – the ease with which people can shop online
- The ability to shop anywhere at any time – a world of choice at their fingertips
- The best deals – getting the best for their money
- Variety – choice that Physical-only spaces simply can’t match
- Personalisation – understanding what a customer wants, when they want it, and why
Whereas the typical shopper would once have had to trudge through the high street or supermarket on a weekly or all too regular basis to find the generic products they needed, today’s consumer has a world of choice at their fingertips, and can get whatever they want delivered to their door without having to leave their sofa or desk.
What does this mean for retailers and eCommerce?
eCommerce is already undergoing rapid changes. eRetailers are improving their delivery to suit eShopper demands and adapting their websites or user experiences to fit the increase in the use of mobile devices to shop online.
Brands and eRetailers are in a race to the top to boost sales and awareness in both the physical and virtual shelf space.
One option is to offer free and fast shipping. Amazon Prime, for example, is now offering delivery in fewer than two hours in some cities. And big players like Walmart are trying to compete by announcing the offering of same-day delivery.
Another is to really ramp up the volume and quality of eContent. With more and more consumers starting and ending their purchase journey through their mobile devices, brands and eRetailers are trying to stay on top with engaging eContent that draws in consumers and helps keep them interested.
And, with convenience being such a key driver, Smart Consumers are increasingly demanding ‘instant’ and ‘easy’ ways to order such as ‘easy order’ buttons and functionality that don’t take up too much time. As such, brands and eRetailers are developing various ways to shop as quickly and conveniently as possible through voice activation or one-click ordering.
Another real opportunity is Augmented Reality (AR) shopping, which is still really in its infancy. AR has the potential to truly alter the marketplace by allowing brands and eRetailers to show consumers how their products will look in their home environment before they even make a purchase.
Fast, free and everywhere – how eCommerce businesses are transforming themselves
Amazon sent shockwaves through the retail world and beyond when it acquired Whole Foods in the US in 2017, giving the eCommerce giant access to 460 stores in the USA, Canada and the UK. The move has given Amazon the bricks-and-mortar platform that many internet retailers have begun to realise is essential to minimising the costs of returns, delivery and marketing.
In Asia, Alibaba has formed an alliance with Chinese state-owned retail conglomerate Bailian Group. This includes investments in and strategic partnerships with Bailian Group and Intime Retail – both leading Chinese department stores – as well as supermarket chain Sanjiang Shopping Club and electronic retailer, Suning.
In Germany, Lidl has launched its own home delivery service for online orders to directly compete with Amazon Pantry; and unlike Amazon, this service is free.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Sainsbury’s has launched Chop Chop, a free push-bike delivery service of up to 25 items within 60 minutes, giving it the biggest reach of a UK supermarket offering one-hour delivery.
“These moves by some of the biggest names in eCommerce around the globe show that change is coming and that Pure Play eCommerce is now not enough to survive”
The impact on packaging
With the shift from traditional Physical-only shelf to one that also includes the virtual shelf, packaging and the way products are packaged are starting to matter.
CPG companies may need to develop new pack sizes and price points to meet consumer demand, which can differ significantly across online retailers. For instance, larger pack sizes can encourage stock-up behaviour, and also help push the transaction from $10 to $15 — the point at which the shipping economics often improve for any given individual item.
CPG players can also design specific online pack sizes and prices to avoid problematic, visible price differentials among channels. Also, most CPG packaging has historically been created to look good on a retail shelf, and not to be easy and convenient for online shoppers to open and use – so a real shift is needed here.
Brands and CPG players have an opportunity to develop lighter packages that are easier to open, and to counter the common complaint among consumers that eCommerce packaging is excessive and both irritating on a personal level and detrimental to the environment in a broader context.
Amazon have been quick to pounce on the opportunity to rethink its approach to packaging. Designed with the customer and sustainability in mind, Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging is packaging consisting of 100% recyclable materials. It is easy to open and designed so that products can be shipped in their original packaging, thereby removing the need for an additional shipping box.
Standard vs Frustration Free Packaging. Source: amazon.com.
There is also the increasingly influential trend of personalisation started by Coca-Cola with its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. The now iconic personalised design – which replaced the Coca-Cola logo on its bottles and cans with common first names – represented a real breakthrough and catalyst for the global packaging customisation trend.
The campaign hugely boosted consumer engagement, especially online, with people rushing to social media to share the experience of finding their name – or that of a loved one – on a Coca-Cola can or bottle, thereby handing brand ownership over to the consumer and allowing them to drive it with their individual stories.
Other brands have followed suit and are using similar innovative approaches to drive conversation and awareness, which ultimately helps to drive sales.
Brands and eRetailers are going to have to keep pace with the data-driven behaviours and needs of the digitally savvy and impatient Smart Consumer if they’re going to thrive.
They will have to offer these consumers what they need when they want it, and provide an obstacle-free, smooth and enjoyable consumer experience that will keep them coming back for more. Any brand or eRetailer that falls short of these demands in the future will swiftly fail.
In the second blog post in this series, we’ll be exploring the impact of the ‘Environmentally Conscious Consumer’ on eCommerce and the CPG sector.
This article was written and created by the eBusiness Institute Team.
Our team of experts can help you understand and make the most of the consumer trends explored in this article to drive business success. If you’re interested in learning more and benefiting from our extensive expert insights, please contact us.
At the eBusiness Institute, we have extensive experience of working with numerous brands on their digital transformation. We understand the importance of an optimised consumer experience to drive your brand’s sales online and offline. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.