Out With The Old, In With The New And Not So New: 3 Trends to Consider In Customer Experience Delivery

Are you ready for conversational commerce, digital gifting, and secondhand markets?

Great customer experience brands are constantly tracking macro-changes in consumer behavior and trying to determine if an emerging trend is simply a fad (hot for the short run but soon to fizzle) or a meaningful pattern worthy of infrastructure investment.

Here are three trends you may wish to consider as you explore technology, service, and product development:

1. Conversational Commerce – Increasingly customers are ordering products using voice commands through an interface like Amazon Echo. Starbucks and other brands have been leaders in developing technology to capitalize on this trend. Recently during a shareholders meeting, the Starbucks chief technology officer, Gerri Martin-Flickinger, suggested that consumer behavior is changing so rapidly that the days of customers using “one finger and point and click” to order online are waning and that the future will exclusively involve voice ordering.

2. Digital Gifting – In my book Leading the Starbucks Way, I discussed an early investment Starbucks made to allow customers to gift through social media – that initiative was called the “tweet-a-coffee program.” Tweet-a-coffee has been expanded to enable customers to send a Starbucks gift card via iMessage within a conversation using an iPhone or iPad. The person receiving the gift card simply redeems it on their Apple device using Apple Pay.

3. The Secondhand Market – According to a recent article in the Fashion Network, the largest online consignment shop (thredUp) reports millennials (30%) and women over age 65 (32%) are becoming more actively involved in thrift or secondhand shopping.

According to thredUp, 50% of their customers report that secondhand purchases are being made as an alternative to buying from stores like Marshalls or Nordstrom Rack.  While this finding currently is limited to clothing purchases, Fashion Network offers a possible explanation as to why the secondhand trend might be relevant to other industries when it comes to millennials and women over the age of 65:

“Having grown up during economic recessions, the two generations are more mindful of their purchases. More than half of these women have shopped secondhand in the last 12 months or say they will in the next 12 months, while the majority of millennial women say they consider the resale value of an item before they purchase something new.”

According to the Fashion Network article, shoppers with incomes greater than $125,000 are also passing up Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue to buy second-hand goods. As an example of positioning in response to this trend, I recently shopped at a high-end jewelry store that also sold “lightly used” designer handbags. 

So what do you think? Are these customer experiences fads? Alternatively, are they worthy of your consideration?

Let’s pretend that conversational ordering, digital gifting, and the secondhand market signal future true consumer preferences. How might you begin to invest in technology, service delivery, or product development that supports this changing consumer landscape?

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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