Jon Reily

Global Chief Strategy Officer, dentsu commerce

This blog post originates from a dentsu presentation “Commerce’s Roaring 20s: How will shifts in consumer behavior and technologies reshape commerce” aired during Advertising Week 2020.

As we approach the end of 2020, most of us feel like we are leaving behind a year of unprecedented change. However, our way of living is going to keep transforming at an incredible rate for the years to come. For instance, the world’s population is expected to increase to 8.5 billion people by 2030, consuming 45% more energy than we do now. By then, smartphones will likely no longer be the primary device we use to get online and almost everything we buy and everything we use will connect to the Internet of Things (IoT) and provide trillions upon trillions of data points. How are consumer behaviors expected to evolve amidst all of this and how will commerce adapt to power transactions and customer relationships in this transformed world?

A pervasively ‘shoppable’ world

The competition for people’s disposable income will keep increasing. As a result, the sharing economy will keep growing and more physical space will be dedicated to rentable and for hire items. Therefore, retailers will have to be creative about developing experiences that capture consumers’ attention and will need to evolve their physical locations in leisure spaces where spending will be dedicated to entertainment and services as much as or even more than it will be dedicated to products. Shopping will occur online more and more often, not on smartphones, but anywhere and anytime, through a myriad of smart devices. Product placement will be ubiquitous across all media and individual pictures online or on social and other types of media will be ‘shoppable’.

Fueling convenience with prediction

Customer experiences are not only going to be targeted and personalized, they will become increasingly predictive. A large proportion of basic goods will be ordered and delivered without the need for ‘shopping’ in the conventional sense. It will appear like magic.

The most successful retailers will be those that best analyze consumer data and then use it to solve problems before they occur, going as far as investing in technologies that will enable them to build emotional connections with consumers. Consumers already often feel overwhelmed by the number of choices they face. Brands will increasingly be expected to tailor products and services to their needs to save them time and energy and use the data created by the consumer’s interaction with the curated offer to prompt additional purchases, either at the time of the initial shopping trip or at an appropriate later date.

Industrial-scale 3-D printer outlets will be seen in many shopping centers and cities and they will be used to create invisible inventory. This and other technologies will create an easier
way for companies to customize goods and services in high volumes without significant cost increase and the power of customization will drive customer loyalty. Delivery will be personalized, with a growing number of items being automatically fulfilled without the need to even order them and, thanks to AI’s ability to track real-world events, delivery tracking information will be increasingly precise with arrival times predicted to the minute.

Now is the time to inject commerce across every aspect of your business

So, how can you ensure your business is going to thrive while all these changes unfold? Brands need to evolve and change the fundamental way they see consumers and interact with them in every moment of their lives. The pandemic has accelerated a transformation that was already in motion. Consumers will expect brands to not only solve their problems, but to be able to anticipate them. All brands are on notice; build relationships with your customers and bring new Generation Z and Generation Alpha consumers into your world or another brand will. The 2020s will be littered with the remains of brands which did not adapt to the new world and dominated by the ones that do.

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