Head, Customer Success
What does human-centric mean to you?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a pivotal effect on people and, in turn, consumer-facing industries such as retail and consumer goods companies. A McKinsey report said that over 60% of global consumers changed shopping behavior owing to convenience and value 1. These firms need to gain insights into the changes in consumer behavior - for instance, the consumer wields significant power in the buyer-seller equation today, and many prefer to shop online in a channel of their choice. In addition, digitally empowered consumers expect a smooth omnichannel experience replete with the combined convenience of physical and online stores while leveraging the power and convenience of social media through their shopping experience.
Retailers and consumer good companies must reconsider how, when and where they connect with shoppers through an enhanced understanding of consumer behavior. But, more importantly, companies must realize that the human touch will perhaps be the single most crucial aspect to provide a memorable consumer experience. Only armed with that critical understanding of consumer behavior will these companies have a chance to influence the next normal and participate in it in a meaningful way.
At Infosys, we believe that being human-centric means enabling user delight across every touchpoint and transaction of the consumer journey. To make human-centricity a reality, the user journeys need to be designed keeping the human at the center, factoring in what they expect and how they engage, while allowing them to control their experience.
Today, retailers and brands (both B2B and B2C) already focus on delivering a rich, consistent, and hyper-personalized experience for consumers across all channels to stay relevant in an intensively competitive market. Most companies have an established presence in channels such as websites, apps, social media and marketplaces. However, new engagement channels, including chat, video games, short videos, smart devices, augmented reality, are being adopted by consumers at a brisk pace. In the APAC region, social media and online sites influence brand decisions for Generation Z2 . Sellers must assimilate them swiftly into their experience arsenal to retain their consumer base.
This shift presents a huge opportunity for retailers and consumer goods companies to elevate consumer engagement by adopting a human-centric approach, which starts with being present where users spend most of their digital day.
At the same time, user-centricity or human-centricity is not limited to the consumer buying experience. It also focuses on empowering the seller. For example, take a business user who manages an eCommerce site and runs business operations. The business user must be equipped with the right tools and dashboards to drive precision marketing, introduce new experiences across several channels, drive new campaigns and exploit data captured to deliver a more hyper-personalized experience. In short, a business user with the right tools could improve the entire process and take advantage of upselling and cross-selling opportunities in a more informed manner.
The importance of being human-centric
As digital footfalls displace physical footfalls, the consumer determines how, when and where they want to engage with a retailer or a consumer brand. Yes, these engagements could be either in a synchronous or asynchronous mode. Only those companies that reinvent themselves to pass over control to the consumer will be successful today and in the future. However, this path is not without challenges and involves a delicate balance between shopping experience and technology. And here’s where human-centricity can make a palpable difference.
Two real-life scenarios around flash sales and evolving eCommerce channels demonstrate the relevance and criticality of human-centricity.
Flash sales are increasing in popularity and provide companies a new model to engage and excite consumers. The eCommerce site must be suitably bolstered in the backend to cope with a massive 3X to 5x increase in traffic within a few minutes. At the same time, the seller must be prepared to manage some consumer disappointment, which is bound to occur in a flash sales model. A human-centric approach that acknowledges consumer sentiments and takes appropriate actions can help handle disappointed consumers without losing them.
Today, eCommerce has become an integral part of business strategy. Companies have invested in high performing websites, apps or by building a presence in leading marketplaces. But, again, there is a constant change in market behavior. Companies can be compelled to evolve into a marketplace themselves or emulate SE Asian markets to promote newer channels like live commerce, chat or participate in a super app ecosystem. In either case, their platform must evolve seamlessly to avoid business disruption and provide a true omnichannel experience to the consumers. In addition, a human-centric approach treats the consumer as an individual with specific preferences and sentiments and not as a source of revenue. This approach is different in that it prioritizesthe preference of the consumer.
The next part of this two-article series presents Infosys Equinox, a human-centric digital commerce and marketing suite.