Remembering the iconic Sci-fi thriller, the Matrix, which put forth the idea of ‘simulated reality’, let’s recall the famous conversation when Neo met Morpheus for the first time and Morpheus asks,
“What Is Real? How Do You Define Real?
“If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain”
Building on Morpheus’ question, let’s ask what IS real in today’s retail world?
Earlier, consumers needed to touch and feel a product and for that, stores and salesmen served as the ultimate source of information. Gone are the days where shoppers needed to see and touch a physical product in order to make a purchase. We are already living in the future, a future where real implies the product information and not the product itself.
Technology has advanced at a lightning speed. Product Information has emerged as “the one” in today’s retail supply-chain.
If consumers are going to the stores to make purchases, chances are they already know what they want and done their research. The rise of E-commerce and the Internet of Products have shaped the retail process and transactions are mostly being completed without seeing any real physical product.
So, what makes people purchase something that they have not even physically examined or seen? – It’s Product Information.
In the absence of a tangible product, evidence in the form of product descriptions, images, reviews, videos, ad campaigns etc serve as the first and in many cases, the only source of product information.
The shift in retail technologies has enabled customers to gather as much information as possible. Product Information plays an important role in today’s omnichannel retail world.
“When was the last time you purchased something without actually seeing, touching or being in front of the product you intended to purchase?”
For most of us, not very long ago. Consumers increasingly make purchase decisions purely on the product content or information available to them. Picture this:
A consumer who intends to buy a smartphone, will access and compare a bunch of attributes about a product / look at product information, process that information and come to a conclusion without ever physically being at the same location as the product.
Once the consumer is directed to the product, it is the product information that drives the sale more than any other factor. And the brand/website offering complete, accurate and reliable product information emerges as the clear winner in such scenarios. In this case, missing the tiniest attributes such as net weight or RAM specifications can result in the immediate loss of a customer.
And not just smartphones, this scenario extends to all categories of products such as food, fruits, beverages, groceries, clothes, electronics, books, music, pharmaceuticals and much more.
Apart from online retail, even brick and mortar stores are enhancing shopping experiences for customers by introducing digital experiences such as smart shelf technology.
It’s time we take the red pill and see the shifting realities of today’s retail environment. Because, what we see or touch is not the only factor driving sales but sales are being triggered by complete and consistent product information.
“Wake up Neo!”