One of the great things about my job is that I often get a preview of how my life as a consumer is going to change. The changes I see coming are not only fascinating — they are as dramatic as any I’ve encountered since the world first heard the words, “dot com.”
As the leader of Global RFID at Avery Dennison, I’m excited by what this will mean for our company and our customers. As a consumer, I’m thrilled that shopping is about to become even more about me.
My team and I work closely with brands and retailers from a wide range of industries and segments all over the world. Gaining our customers’ perspective — putting ourselves in the shoes of those who produce goods and those who sell them — has given us a better understanding of their pain points, of the challenges they face in a competitive landscape, where, in a short time, the Internet has rewritten the rules. Viewing commerce from their perspective has also enabled us to see that, while online commerce has certainly shaken up traditional business models, it is also creating opportunities to satisfy shoppers as never before.
Consumers circa 2018 are less and less inclined to distinguish among channels. They buy from brands. They buy from retailers. They buy in stores and they buy online — sometimes, they do both at once. Shoppers buy via laptop and mobile, via website and app, and, increasingly via social media and text messaging. They move fluidly among all of them, without a second thought. Consumers today want what they want when they want it, however they choose to buy it. And they would like their experience to be personalised and unique. In short, they want shopping to be frictionless. They seek what psychologists call “flow” — the positive state of mind that is achieved when our pursuit of happiness is seamless because there are no gaps or barriers separating us from what we want.
To retain customers — a far more cost-effective strategy than acquiring new ones — brands and retailers must now meet shoppers wherever they are. They must not only be omnichannel, they must be omnipresent. They must deliver on heightened expectations or risk losing customers. They must provide flow over friction.
The good news is that the same technology that has raised consumer expectations is also making it possible to meet them.
The emerging Internet of Things (IoT) is making once-inert objects “smart” or “intelligent” and realising a vision of connecting just about everything online. A key link in that vastly expanded network is intelligent labels and other solutions empowered by radio frequency identification (RFID) and groundbreaking technology platforms. These innovations enable brands and retailers to track inventory more accurately and thereby meet customer demand as never before, while also delivering unique and personal experiences at the point of sale and beyond. The same innovations enable brands and retailers to tell much deeper product stories and increase transparency about sourcing, sustainability, and other criteria consumers increasingly base purchasing decisions upon.
I recently shared my perspective on these exciting developments in an interview in Future of Retail, a special publication of Raconteur published in The Times. In the article, I also describe how Avery Dennison is helping to enable frictionless retail as the world’s largest ultra-high-frequency RFID supplier and as a partner or investor in several new technology and advertising initiatives. I invite you to read the article — and join me in preparing for a frictionless future — here.