Changing Consumer Behaviour

8/19/2015   By: Claire Booth

Last year I presented at the Retail Council of Canada conference and one of my key points was the growing importance of human interaction both in-store and online.  A recent article in Harvard Business Review on consumer behaviour and self-service kiosks adds another angle to this.

If technology is used helpfully, consumers will embrace it.  For example, in my presentation, I talked about the ‘lack of control’ online shoppers feel once they have submitted their order.  Not being sure as to when or how their purchase will arrive is a pain point.  Domino’s Pizza has recognized this and shows buyers, through their online “Pizza Tracker”, their pizza being made, who will be delivering it, what time the pizza leaves the store etc and when they can expect it.  Dominos understands the importance of consumer peace of mind. Uber has capitalized on the same type of pain point.

The HBR piece talks about self-service kiosks and consumer behaviour – what retailers (including banks) need to know.  If the kiosk is easy to use (emphasis on easy), consumers often will spend more than they will face-to-face.  For example, with a quick service kiosk, consumers don’t run the risk of being misunderstood, they are often able to customize orders (increasing the total charge) and they don’t worry about being judged (potentially ordering more food.)

Notably – a consumer will be more likely to use a kiosk if they can see what is happening during the ordering process.  They need to see the machine work, just like they are able to watch an employee in action.  Being able to see the machine actually crunch through the numbers helps the consumer to see that value is being created and they are more likely to embrace the process.

The HBR article uses the example of Kayak.  When searching for a flight, the consumer can see, on screen, Kayak crunching through all the different travel sites.  Similar to the Domino’s example, the peace of mind and additional value is a win for the consumer.

I remember something I learned in a set of focus groups about 10 years ago.  The groups were about triaging in the emergency room.  The major pain point for consumers was not the amount of time they had to wait (often upwards of 5+ hours) but that they were not being informed as to what was happening.  Everything was made better when they were told exactly what to expect and given an indication of how longs things could take – they were then more willing to wait without complaint.

Information and seeing the search/sales/ops process in action is something that makes consumers feel good.  They appreciate that value is being created and makes the online or kiosk transaction feel a little more human.