What can we learn from Silicon Valley?


On 2 September a Shopping2020 delegation set off to visit Silicon Valley in search of an answer to the question: how will consumers shop in 2020? What follows is a summary of nine highlights of the trip, from the perspective of Jorij Abraham, Shopping2020’s program manager.

Shopping2020 is a research programme in which national association Thuiswinkel.org is collaborating together with 14 branch associations. More than 460 experts from the field, divided into nineteen expert-groups, provide answers to various research questions in order to create a vision of the future on how consumers shop in 2020. This vision has resulted in practical tips for B2C organisations that sell (online) about how to prepare for the future.

9 highlights from this trip
– Make way for the super-consumer
Consumers are gaining increasing access to data. They are creating a larger network because of improved technology and they now know more about a product than a sales assistant. As a result the gap between assistants and consumers is growing ever bigger. Shops have to co-innovate and assistants must be equipped with the same tools as consumers and be able to work with them.

– Fail Faster!
The market has become more transparent because consumers are online always and everywhere. Consumers check their smartphone to see where a product is cheapest, so price competition no longer works and even on service it is becoming increasingly difficult for a business to distinguish itself. Deliveries are made increasingly faster – eBay is currently involved in a test in which products are delivered within an hour! The battle must be won by innovation, faster improvements and coming up with something new. You thought that one software release every two weeks was frequent? Facebook has two a day!
All these changes mean that everyone is on the lookout for talent. In other words, the war for talent has begun and it will become increasingly important. Large organisations are looking for new employees all over the world. Even more important than knowledge (almost), is that employees can cope with change and disappointment. A project that is extremely important today may just disappear into the waste paper basket tomorrow. Innovation is of the utmost importance. Having the best people is essential.

– Big data
Big data is already big, but is getting even bigger. The amount of data businesses obtain from customers is resulting in increasing segmentation. This is providing more knowledge about customers and, therefore, possibilities for personal offers. Big parties, such as Facebook, are entering into partnerships with retailers in order to gain access to their data. In exchange the retailers are helping to improve the service and access to their customers. The important question now is: are you giving these data away or are you collecting all these data yourself as an organisation?

– Mobile first
Mobile is becoming important. Even more important than we thought. Expectations are that next year 20% of consumers will shop with their cell phone and this number will keep on growing as we get closer to 2020. Various big parties, such as Facebook, first develop new functions for a mobile app and only then do they develop it for their website.

– Less is more
Consumers are practically drowning in offers. For example, on the website of just one fashion label you can find 50 t-shirts. Expectations are that in the future consumers will want to choose from fewer products. Yes, they want a t-shirt, but just that one black t-shirt with a v-neck. Retailers have to offer consumers the right product at the right time. Furthermore, you also have to take into account the best day and time for reaching your customers. For example, did you know that your customers travel by train every day between 8.00 and 9.00 o’clock? The chance is great that he or she will have time to make a new online purchase.

– Instant commerce
Google Glass, watches for checking your e-mail…. Consumers are online 24/7. Seen a nice jumper in a shop window? The newest technology means you can buy it immediately. Google Glass is expected on the market in the Netherlands at the end of 2014. But are we ready for it? To see is to buy!

– Experience is the key
We have to transform (online) shopping into an experience. Experience is getting stronger. Expectations are that the dividing line between online and offline shopping will blur. They don’t have the trousers you want in your size? Order them right away in the shop and they will be delivered to your home in the afternoon. In the future shops will recognise their customers too. There is every chance that store personnel will come up to you and say: ‘Good morning Ms. de Vries, you bought a little dress last week. Are you pleased with it? Perhaps you might like this dress too.’

– And the winner is…
There is no certainty about who will win this battle. According to Jorij Abraham (Program Manager Shopping2020) the battle will be between Amazon and Google. Why? They have an infinite database full of customer data, which puts them in a better position to approach customers. Furthermore, they have lots of money to invest. Will anyone else still be able to catch up on them? And the big question we could be asking ourselves is: are consumers still winners?
More information? See the presentation made by Jorij Abraham, Program Manager Shopping2020.