How will changes in marketing affect commercial businesses in the near future? The Futures Company is releasing a mini-series of studies and predictions about the changes to come in marketing. The following is a summary of the commercial worlds segment of the report, as well as some thoughts on how these changes, should they happen, will further impact company strategies, with a focus on retail and purchasing.
According to the report, the new world will be all about data, devices, software and sensors (makes sense). A lot of this is present today, but as connectivity becomes more universal, technology will eventually become “unbundled” and both users and suppliers will be able to configure their devices to interact with the world in a number of ways. Commerce especially will be affected, seeing an increased importance on mobile payment models and Near Field Communications (NFC), as well as the need for retail to interact more dynamically with consumers. This will cause a shift in the traditional 4 Ps of marketing, but what will businesses need to think about if these changes take place?
- Prices may change constantly and without notice, and different prices will be presented to different consumers. How will this impact satisfaction if your neighbor is getting a better deal than you? And how can retailers adjust pricing to cause the least disruption for consumers?
- Products can be linked to other products or services allowing a more complete shopping experience, the option to create shopping lists, and more. Does this mean we have to think more about partnerships and complementary items for our offerings? Will partnerships become a prominent part of business plans for all companies, rather than optional, complementary, or something that comes later on?
- Retail transactions will move beyond the physical place, and even beyond the online channel. People will expect to be able to shop anywhere from their devices, completing the entire transaction process (with convenient payment options). Does this mean we will have to integrate even further with our customers? If they are holidaying and shopping by the beach, is it fair to expect they will also be in the market for aloe vera when they return home with sunburn? To what extent do companies have to plan to encourage purchases and win more business? And how much is too much?
- People will have control over their retail environment (changing the lighting, for example) and companies can use this information to interact with the customer after purchase and understand how to connect with them. But with all the information companies have about their customers, will customers expect them to use that data to simplify their shopping experience? And how much can companies assume about their customers without it getting in the way of their shopping experience?
Cinsay, Inc. is a BizSpark (Microsoft program for startups) company that has already started a business "of the future". Their technologies integrate into the videos you are watching so that if you see someone wearing a shirt you like, you can purchase that shirt by accessing their menu. It connects you to what you are seeing outside of the retail environment, integrating with the lives of consumers regardless of what content they are looking at. The future of retail is already changing, and with the extent of information available to companies – much of which is directly supplied by consumers themselves through the means of social media - a variety of interesting partnerships may soon arise.