In is this era of proliferating “devices” and “touchpoints” (points of contact), customers enjoy a new autonomy and freedom to buy anything, anywhere, at any time based on desires and constraints. The counterpart of this freedom is “putting the customer to work everywhere and anywhere” where someone did it for him before, he now has to do it himself”. This fragmented shopping experience means increasingly complex shopping trips, which can be anxiety-provoking and generate a loss of meaning.

Moreover, with the digitization of society, customers are more often alone with their questions and difficulties. The challenge for certain brands is to be available at these times to guide an increasingly isolated and lonely customer. Connected clients have new needs for support and assistance. The goal for brands is to answer these questions.

From a purely commercial logic to bring more to consumers

What do customers expect from brands and companies today? That they make their daily life easier by being available when needed. Brands must emerge from purely commercial logic and build momentum to support clients in their daily lives. For their part, it requires a profound change in posture and a more selfless relationship. “Being consumer oriented” is no longer enough. We need to be more “focused on the Man or the Woman” and be able to understand his psychology and / or his needs for each micro life trajectory.

For example, Blédina’s will no longer be limited to marketing baby food, but to helping parents better feed their babies, making homemade dishes, offering complementary products or even competing products. Another example would be Accor hotels, assisting travelers from A to Z: booking, arrival at the hotel, services, dry cleaners, customized according to the desires of the traveler (tourism, work). It’s about knowing and recognizing the customer to assist, reassure, or even coddle him.

In addition, brands can build customer communities who help each other. Through dedicated platforms, consumers receive tips, answers and advice from brand ambassadors. This is the case, for example, of Leroy Merlin, and the dedicated space on his site where passionate do-it-yourselfers help beginners.

Assist the customer “differently” by reinventing the notion of service

Accompanying the client on a daily basis, beyond single market logic, means reinventing the notion of service to help clients in their life course and their daily lives. For example, a shoe store like dynamic Australian brand Shoes of Prey remotely manufactures made-to-measure shoes based on customer tastes and needs, but can create them in the shop the next day thanks to 3D, and deliver them to the most convenient location (hotel room, home, work, restaurant etc.). Zalando’s new premium subscription allows collection of parcels and returns on request with courier services. To go further, if the job is to “take care of” the customer’s shoes, other services are possible, from courier service picking up shoes to bring them to the shoemaker, to the production of services still to be invented.

Towards a “phygital” concierge service

Brands have every incentive to orchestrate human and digital touch points with consumers to create personalized assistance. Today, to differentiate itself from its competitors, it is important to think in terms of “life course” with logic of global support and relevant services that are useful and easy to implement. The future is in the “phygital” Concierge which can assist the client digitally and humanly, with humans taking over when a digital presence “everywhere” and “anywhere” is no longer sufficient.

This conciergerie assumes easy use of an invisible and available technology for clients so they come into contact with a brand that is useful and which includes a community of customers and / or enthusiasts who help each other. A Concierge system also requires ability to offer a quality human relationship with attentive and personalized listening when the customer needs or wants human assistance, based on what is going on in their life (question, anxiety, happiness).

Revolution: interlocking of the real and virtual world

Revolution is not about creating the digital, parallel world within the real world. Revolution is the interlocking of these two worlds, the real and virtual. With the omnichannel, consumers seek brands at any time; the challenge is for them to meet the demands or even to anticipate them by creating new needs. This is the case, for example, of vending machines with the “monthly box” market, which exploded in France over the past 5 years, and which offers ancillary products based on consumer preferences. Similarly, brands must now combine speed and efficiency with their customer relationships.

In the new connected concierge, the best butler will be the who one moves from the physical world to the virtual and from a digital relationship to a human relationship, without any pain or discomfort and helped by technological support (voice assistants, chatbots, apps, AI for example). In addition, retail experiences a revolution every 50 years. The question is how retailers will be able to approach such a revolution to assist clients through their life experiences rather than a simple shopping experience.

Save the date for the next Paris Retail Week show from 10 to 12 September 2018

For its 4th edition, the biggest European trade event will take its full scope and will gather in Pavilion 1 of Paris expo Porte de Versaillethe e-commerce sector, dedicated to solutions for e-retailers, ranging from digital marketing to logistics, and the Store / Equipmag sector, dedicated to physical commerce and distribution.

Pour sa quatrième édition le plus grand événement retail européen de la rentrée prendra toute son envergure et réunira dans le Pavillion 1 de la Porte de Versailles le secteur E-Commerce, dédié aux solutions e-commerce, du digital marketing à la logistique et du secteur Store / Equipmag, dédié au commerce physique et à la distribution.


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Régine Vanheems is author of articles and books in marketing and distribution, and specialist in distribution and physical and connected commerce. She has carried out numerous studies on the multi / cross / omni-channel, on the digitization of the purchase act and on connected retail. Her research analyzes the evolutions in the behavior of consumers and shoppers with regards to technologies and the digitization of the purchasing act. As a pioneer on these subjects, her writings have been rewarded on several occasions in the United States and France. At the end of 2015 Régine published a book entitled "Successful cross-channel and omni-channel strategy for brands and connected companies" (awarded in 2016 by the FCA as a "remarkable publication"). After having co-directed the Management Research Laboratory of SORBONNE (PRISM-SORBONNE laboratory), Régine, PhD in Management Sciences, Associate Professor of Universities, co-founded the Observatory of Connected Commerce. Régine regularly takes the floor as a speaker at trade shows, organizations and trade institutes. She also speaks at conferences for companies (B to C and B to B) whether for brands, service companies or solution providers. Régine teaches marketing and commerce at the Sorbonne, the University of Lyon 3 and the ESCP-Europe.