Articles

Human Will Win In The Long Run.

We are in the middle of a technological arms race. Everywhere we turn. In retail much of the chatter – admittedly a great deal of it emanating from people who don’t actually run retail businesses – is around rolling the technological juggernaut over the top of traditional retail models and customer experiences.

An arms race is usually built on bluff and bluster, is a defensive strategy masquerading as offence, is financially unsustainable and more importantly eventually becomes engulfed in anxiety and fear leading to resentment.

There are two important facts often overlooked in contemporary retail. Human beings – after six million years of evolution and three and half thousand years of retail – love to connect face to face and immerse in uplifting human retail experiences.

Technology can enable that experience to be richer and deeper. Retail technology is not the experience in and of itself and it is not the driver of retail. It can however be a great enhancer when used correctly.

As Steve Jobs once said, “Technology comes to life when it works the way we want it to, not us having to interface with it the way it demands; when it becomes almost invisible and enhances our lifestyle not when we are a slave to it.”

The overt use of technology in retail is heading down a dangerous but temporary path in many applications. The theory of driving a shopper to a physical place to interact with a piece of technology is not only missing the psychological driver of human motivation it is training the customer that the physical retail space is a commoditised transactional zone.

Retail communication is racing to adopt a letterbox marketing approach to social media, digital communication and technological enabled marketing. Some brands are targeting ‘peer group leaders’ defined as people with more than 1,000 followers on Twitter or Friends on Facebook. As the lack of integrity and level of noise increase, the shopper’s emotional pendulum is already beginning to swing back to a search for real (as opposed to fabricated) integrity and genuine human connection and a rejection of overt technological intrusion.

Shoppers are re-discovering small and local. They are beginning to re-establish definitions and social events around more intimate friendships. And the physical retailers who know how to deliver an immersive, engaging experience where human beings connect with one another in a mutually rewarding encounter are experiencing profit growth well ahead of the market.

The world of retail faces over distribution and me-too offers everywhere. It is a sea of grey that is over-commoditised. With rare exceptions that stand out from the pack. But there are more of these exceptions emerging everyday. People who understand human psychology and what shoppers really need and want give them the motivation to invest their time.

There is nothing more appreciated in the modern retail world by a customer than uplifting human connection. Putting that first is what will not only make your use of technology more appropriate. It will make you a winner.