THE POWER OF CHOICE: THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & CUSTOMER CENTRICITY
The digital age has brought diversity in choice. That means the products we design today have to start with the customer in mind. This was not always the case, however. Not too long ago, merchants and suppliers were in control of the sales cycle.
Companies and manufacturers took their products and services to market based on what they wanted to offer. Products were developed in a finite box to a specific idea of a generic customer. Thus, creating significant limitations on the selections consumers had available. This applies across the spectrum of industries — from banking to sports.
Technology has disrupted this construct in phases — beginning with the birth of the internet itself, the multitude of devices and the proliferation of smartphones. A shift in this traditional selling model has occurred by removing barriers and constraints from the customer experience.
Consumers are no longer limited by time, geography or even providers. Technology has provided the pathway to shift the paradigm of power away from the suppliers and to those that demand the products.
The essence of customer centricity is the power of choice
“The essence of customer centricity is the power of choice,” says Igor Ulis, President, Enterprise Solutions & Strategy at iX.co. “This has flipped the marketplace on its head.”
A subset of this shift is Direct to Consumer (DTC). For many products to end up in your home, they must process through a supply chain with multiple layers. To buy a mattress, the manufacturer would make it, pack it, ship it to a warehouse, distribute it to multiple retail outlets until finally it was purchased and delivered. Now with brands like Casper and Sleep Number, maattresses can be ordered online and delivered directly from the manufacturer.
More and more brands — from insurance to media and entertainment — are moving into the DTC space. According to a report from eMarketer, there are more than 400 brands in the DTC market today. This may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of brands out there, but the report also found that web traffic to DTC sites has doubled in the last two years.
The appeal of the DTC model is the opportunity to capitalize on the opportunity to speak directly to customers: to capture and understand buying trends and preferences and take action on that information with special promotions and products. Using this model, Nike has seen a 145.5% increase in DTC sales between 2009-2019.
In recent years we have seen DTC become much more prevalent in the media space. Customers no longer need to be tied to a cable broadcasting package that may or may not offer the programming each individual customer is looking for. Technology has provided endless possibilities and choice. Patrons of cricket living in North America can now watch matches played in India. Baseball lovers can follow their favorite teams from around the world through DTC options from media companies or even the leagues themselves.