The eCommerce Convenience Gap, and Why It Matters

Stuart Elmes

It’s the summer of 1998. Everyone is talking about OK Computer by Radiohead. You want to listen to it. You’re torn between trying to find a decent file to download on Napster, or just going to the high street to buy a CD. You decide you don’t want to get sued by Metallica, so you head to the Virgin Megastore. 

It’s the summer of 2010. You still haven’t seen Avatar. Do you want to risk the viruses and malware on Pirate Bay to save a few pounds on the video rental? You decide it’s not worth waiting for a shaky handheld camera bootleg that might destroy your laptop. You choose Blockbuster.

In the summer of 2018, these questions won’t occur to you. If you want the new Arctic Monkeys or Drake or Black Panther or Peaky Blinders, you’ll get them on Spotify or Apple Music or Netflix.

Why? 

Because it’s convenient, and when it comes to human purchasing behaviour, convenience matters.

Here’s why.

 

Convenience is king

The technology to download music and movies has been available for a long time, but it took years to get to a point where everyone, including your mum, was perfectly comfortable using that technology. It took years of ongoing development to increase the quality of that technology, but it eventually achieved the level of convenience, ease of use, and quality which have made it a ubiquitous part of modern media consumption. The option that was universally recognized as the fastest, safest, cheapest, and easiest eventually evolved to a point where it became impossible or perverse not to use it.

We have seen this happen countless times in countless industries over the past few decades. A technology offers the promise of unheard of convenience and ease, but it has a few risks or glitches or headaches that put off more conservative consumers.

Shipping time, trust, releasing your credit card information on the web, making big-ticket purchases without a human being to reassure you, filling out a million forms and remembering a million passwords, all of these barriers have stood in the way of companies like Expedia, Amazon, and Airbnb.

 

Bridging the convenience gap

eCommerce has found ways to soothe worried customers, and to provide a level of service and convenience that has washed away the doubts of millions. This is a process we’ve seen play out before, and in most instances the companies that are the first to offer people a service that makes their life easier are quick to carve out a dominant market share. eCommerce is always very kind to the brands that win consumer trust through reliably providing an easier way to shop.

We at Adimo call this time, between when a technology is available, and when it offers consumers an unquestionably quicker and easier way to shop, The Convenience Gap.

We are certain that voice shopping is the next frontier in the relentless march towards convenience. Right now you can buy anything you want by muttering at your phone, but most people don’t. Even though you could, in theory, order all of your groceries for the week in 5 minutes while sprawled out on the sofa, you probably don’t.

Reports cite concerns ranging from fear of impulse buys and unauthorized purchases, anxiety about shipping times and returns, and problems being understood by the devices, which often will try to re-order previous similar purchases in favour of actually finding the item being sought.

But in spite of these glitches and worries, a recent study predicts that voice shopping will grow to above $40 billion dollars per year (in the US and UK alone) by 2022. And the company leading the charge, and working furiously to address these issues and convert customers, is Amazon.

 

Convenience as competition

If Amazon can create a reliable business model based on convincing consumers to skip the supermarket and buy their groceries from the couch, they will have an opportunity to elbow out not only giant retailers like Tesco, Costco, and Walmart, but also established brands like Nestle and General Mills.

When everyone watches Netflix, Netflix can use that audience reach to create and promote its own content. If Amazon has a monopoly over the delivery system and logistics, they can easily promote their own brands and restrict the sales of competitors. It is imperative for competing retailers and brands to find their own methods of closing this convenience gap without relying on Amazon.

As the giant company from Seattle introduces voice recognition, voice integrated screens, one hour shipping times and headache free returns policies, they’ll be offering consumers a new and considerably easier way to shop.

 

A convenient solution

If you want to compete, you’ll need to start offering your customers a similar level of ease and trust. Start thinking of your consumers as people with goals of their own, and delivering your products to them in a way that lets them accomplish these goals.

They don’t want pasta, tomato sauce and ground beef, they want spaghetti Bolognese for dinner at 6:30, with the least hassle and fuss possible. By speeding up your delivery times, allowing them to order quickly and easily by voice, and remembering their preferences, you can make their lives easier, and win their loyalty. By offering them a complex series of forms, voice technology that can’t understand anything they just said, and a long wait for their products to arrive, you will cause them stress and drive them to McDonald’s or Amazon Fresh.

Consumers today don’t want to be told why your tomato sauce is the best, they want your tomato sauce to save them a trip to Tesco’s.

At Adimo, our mission is to offer forward thinking brands and retailers a way to make their products as easy to buy as Amazon’s. Our commitment to shoppable marketing, and to developing new and easier ways to shop, such as Adimo Voice will allow you to offer consumers the convenience they will soon be accustomed to. Let’s work together to close the Convenience Gap for whatever you’re selling.