What characterises the “new consumer” and how will their behaviour shape the technology ecosystem?
Russ Shaw (founder of London Tech Advocates and Global Tech Advocates) hosted a discussion on this at the penultimate event of Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK), sponsored by Shoosmiths.
Shoosmiths was delighted to sponsor the event which brought together a distinguished panel of tech sector experts, including Roland Emmans (head of technology at HSBC), Husayn Kassai (co-founder of Onfido, an identity verification and authentication platform) and Nicole Quinn (partner at Lightspeed Ventures, a tech focused US venture capital investor).
Roland provided four tips and one warning on what businesses need to consider when thinking about their digital channels:
Digital is the key channel for both your clients and staff, so enhancing and streamlining customer experience is critical
Check that your website represents your business, because during the pandemic, the website is your business
Digital is ever-changing. Pick one thing within your business to change and then move on
AI is not inaccessible to SMEs. There are a lot of off-the-shelf products that can do the heavy lifting.
His warning? If you don’t digitally accelerate, you will be left behind. Uptake of digital by customers has accelerated due to the pandemic. The trend will continue throughout 2021 and that may extend to the end of 2022.
Husayn Kassai’s message was that cumbersome processes will result in lost customers. The way to make digital services more efficient is to think about them from a customer perspective. Removing friction is key, such as by ensuring a smooth digital sign up experience.
Accordingly to Nicole Quinn, even non-tech sector companies should be keeping an eye on digital and should be investing in consumer technology. Nicole said that consumer behaviours do not change; it’s the layer of technology overlay that changes and that layer applies to all companies across any sector – for example, an app on your smartphone that sends you daily notifications to remind you to carry out a seemingly non-technological activity.
Husayn Kassai emphasised that all consumers are not alike. Certain consumers are more technology adaptive and react to new products more quickly whereas other consumer demographics are slower. The ‘smartphone generation’ may use a fast-paced self-service till in a shop, but a ‘non-smartphone generation’ will prefer a face to face, slower yet personal, customer experience. The focus on digitising should not alienate the slower adopters and care needs to be taken to ensure they are made to feel the technology is accessible.
On the future of the digital marketplace, Russ Shaw said the health immunity passport is an interesting insight into future digital identities. Husayn predicted that this area would grow when fraud, privacy and inclusion issues are addressed and the customer experience becomes as seamless as getting into a taxi on demand.
Finally, the panel discussed how the next big shift in consumer behaviour is focused on how the power of digital can be harnessed to find new ways of connecting. Nicole Quinn pointed to Lunchclub, a video meeting platform for making new industry connections, that illustrates how digital technology removed barriers thrown up by events like the pandemic. Likewise, Cameo gives us a glimpse into the future of entertainment, where it pushes an autograph request into the digital age through offering personalised celebrity influencer video messages.
Our view at Shoosmiths aligns with the thoughts provided by the panel. The future of consumer is quite clearly tied into digital technology – whether it is mobile apps to link consumers and suppliers more readily or AI/data utilisation to better understand consumer behaviour, all companies across any industry need to have a digital strategy front and centre. The rise in digitisation raises novel legal challenges and it is becoming increasingly common for our clients to need guidance from advisers across various sectors in order to realise their digital ambitions.
Shoosmiths was proud to sponsor SVC2UK again this year. SVC2UK is a week-long series of events which bring together technology sector entrepreneurs, start-up and scale up businesses and investors from Silicon Valley, London and the rest of the world to discuss all things tech.