IBM Study: Consumers of the Future Value Self-service and Personalization


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All Consumers Are Looking for a Consistent Experience – From Start to Finish

Armonk, NY, December 12, 2012 – The consumer of the future will be more
mobile, social and self-sufficient, willing to share details on themselves
and their preferences in exchange for highly personalized relationships with
their favorite stores, according to a new IBM (NYSE: IBM) consumer survey.
The study also found that consumers’ willingness to advocate for a
particular retailer is becoming multi-faceted, with consumers looking for a
flawless experience, whether it’s when they’re researching, purchasing, or
receiving delivery.

The findings of the survey of 1,200 U.S. men and women ages 13 to 60 provide
insights into the demands of the next generation buying audience and
highlight the areas where retailers could influence brand advocacy.

Today’s teenagers say they spend their time shopping on their mobile devices
whether they are at home, on the move or in-store. They also prefer to use
more self-service features than today’s consumers and participate in
communities and forums via social networks with consumers with similar
interests. Teens expect their retailers to know them and all their
transactions and deliver ads and promotions to them through social
networking sites.

The study compared consumers aged 13 – 19, or “digital natives,” with
today’s current shoppers, respondents in the 40-49 year old group. The
survey found the digital natives to be:
· Almost four times as likely to consider it important for a retailer to
provide a mobile app to use on their smartphone or tablet (52 versus 14
· Twice as likely to consider it important for a retailer to establish a
forum for like-minded consumers to share ideas with each other (54 versus 26
· Twice as likely to be comfortable receiving ads and promotions from a
retailer through a social networking site (64 versus 37 percent)
· Nearly 1.5 times as likely to consider it important for a retailer to keep
track of all that they’ve purchased from the retailer (regardless of whether
it was in the store, online, via the call center, etc.) (67 versus 48
· Nearly 1.5 times as likely to consider it important to provide
self-service tools they can use in the store (80 versus 63 percent)

“The next generation of shoppers – the digital natives – view brand
interaction in a different way, expecting retailers to deliver a seamless,
omni-channel brand experience across all touchpoints,” said John Stelzer,
worldwide industry lead for Retail Smarter Commerce, at IBM.”

This study, part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, examined what
components of the commerce process have the greatest potential to strengthen
or undermine a consumer’s inclination to advocate a particular retailer to
others. Smarter Commerce helps companies transform their business processes
to deliver a complete, meaningful brand experience that deepens the
relationship between retailer and consumer and increases customer
satisfaction, trust and loyalty to create brand advocates.

The study found that consumers are looking for a consistent brand
experience, from start to finish, across all brand touchpoints. Cost and
quality prevailed, where the two most important considerations for
recommending a retailer were: “sells quality merchandise” (94 percent) and
“offers fair/competitive prices” (93 percent). However, three of the next
most important criteria were: the items they want to buy are in stock (91
percent); the retailer delivers a positive overall experience whether it’s
in the store, over the Web, or via any combination of channels (90 percent);
and that the retailer provides a convenient returns process (85 percent).

In the study, IBM asked a series of questions about the three phases of the
brand experience: pre-purchase, purchase (checkout/payment), and
post-purchase. The real surprise in the findings was the importance of the
post-purchase process in molding the brand relationship and influencing
brand advocacy. This phase includes product shipment, delivery,
installation, customer support, problem resolution and returns. For example,
the survey found:
· Nearly three-quarters of the respondents cited a retailer’s ability to
deliver a positive post-purchase experience as important to very important
for them to recommend a retailer to others.
· Nearly double the respondents chose the post-purchase experience as more
important than the pre-purchase experience in forming a lasting opinion of a
retailer (64 versus 36 percent).
· The post-purchase phase has the greatest potential to damage the brand
relationship (46 percent) compared to the purchase and pre-purchase phases
(38 and 16 percent, respectively).
· The post-purchase phase even has the ability to help a retailer recover
from a poor pre-purchase experience, with 52 percent of respondents
indicating that a positive post-purchase experience is likely to very likely
to overcome a poor pre-purchase experience. [For those 13-19, 67 percent
consider it likely to very likely to save the day.]

“In general, the post-purchase experience has been taken for granted by too
many retailers, and this study confirms that retailers will need to focus on
delivering heightened post-purchase capabilities, such as omni-channel
in-store pickup or return of online or mobile orders to win over tomorrow’s
consumer,” added Stelzer.
More information on Smarter Commerce can be found at
To join the conversation, follow hashtags #smartercommerce and #ibmretail on

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