How might “borderless” consumer expectations affect trucking?

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A new report issued by marketing firm Sequence argues that consumers are now demanding what’s being called a “borderless” experience with the brands they select– one where the lines between digital and physical customer experiences are non-existent.

Broadly, consumers of all ages are increasingly becoming more technically savvy, with 90% of all consumers – again, regardless of age – expecting a “seamless omni-channel experience” across in-store, online or mobile transactions.

Now, while Sequence’s survey looked at consumer preferences in both the “digital” and “analog” world in the retail, casual restaurants, travel, financial services, plus media and entertainment sectors, trucking can gain some important insights as well. For example:

  • Two out of three of consumers lose trust in a brand when the physical presence doesn’t align with the digital experience, Sequence found;
  • 79% of consumers are more loyal to brands that have a great online and offline experience;
  • 90% of consumers want to be able to ask questions and return a product wherever it’s convenient – regardless of where it was purchased (hello, transportation opportunity)
  • But three out of four consumers say face-to-face communication is still important to them, even if they made an online purchase.

Now look at some of the findings from some of the business segments mentioned earlier:

  • Restaurants: 42% of consumers are disappointed when the same information isn’t available in a restaurant when they know it’s available online;
  • Retail: Over one-third of shoppers are seeing a disconnect between their online shopping experience and their in-store experience from the same retailer;
  • Travel: 89% of consumers say that their gate experience with an airline doesn’t match their online experience;
  • Financial services: 37% say their online bank or financial app is more helpful than going into the actual bank;
  • Media/entertainment: One out of three millennials don’t subscribe to cable or satellite TV, and 72% of millennials don’t watch live television broadcasts

So what can trucking learn from all of this? First and foremost, the digital and physical aspect of freight hauling better align easily.

Take a look at the “airline gate experience” disconnect, for example; while it is no surprise the vast majority of consumers are frustrated by the human-interaction factor, much the same thing could be happening in trucking’s world.

Websites show nice clean trucks and snappily dressed drivers; does that translate into reality? How about bills of lading; if old-fashioned paperwork is still involved, does that “degrade” the consumer experience compared to online load booking, etc.?

Jojo Roy, CEO of Sequence, noted in the firm’s report that the younger generation of consumers – especially Millennials, which Sequence dubs “Digital Firsts” – expect “robust” electronic and in-person interactions across any number of business sectors.

“’Digital Firsts’ think about what works best for them, whether it crosses geographical lines, jumps from online to offline, or blends from digital to physical and back again,” noted Roy. “To achieve this customized blend across digital and analog experiences, businesses will need to break down their own organizational barriers and remove technology constraints to meet these demands. Companies that are able to deliver borderless brand experiences will have a competitive advantage.”

Something to keep in mind as the freight world keeps digitizing at an ever more rapid pace.

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