Being Human.

I won’t lie. I love data. I love the trends. I love the big, fat juicy numbers that prove return on investment. I even love a good old-fashioned regression model. Pulse Index has access to literally millions of data points so it makes sense that I couldn’t be happier with churning out some killer stats to pepper these blogs with.

 But it’s easy to get lost in the figures and the charts sometimes. Now and again, it makes sense to take a step back from the way things seem in the data tables, only to realise that you may have had tunnel-vision on a particular topic. For me, it was the perceived shift of the world’s retail moving online.

My promise then: no stats in this blog post.

One of the things that Pulse Index holds dear as one of its key tenets is to dutifully look at how people want (or want not, for some groups) to experience human touch in their shopping journey. Pulse has some great stats about why human touch in retail is still crucial and you can see the key ones in tomorrow’s takeaways from our view on ‘customer pulse’.

Today’s blog is not about those stats on human interactions and the approval ratings of those that have used various shopping innovations, such as online video chats or pre-booked, in-store appointments – the truth is, all the stats are in favour of them and there is a clear and definitive desire to get back out to ‘IRL’ retail. If you want to know more, please do get in touch.

What I really want to discuss today is our expectation of what the future ‘human element’ in the purchase journey is; specifically, the humans that give consumers that crucial ‘nudge’ from a retail perspective.

Former Beliefs.

I’ve long held the view that the world seems to expect the bricks-and-mortar store to die off at some point, believing it’s holding on for dear life in its current state. And that, in it’s shining armour, online will come along and sweep away the deadwood of the four-walls and we can all get on with our lives.

The reality is, that belief is fundamentally wrong. People buy from people. And while the best human interactions, I believe, are made on the shop-floor, the world of omnichannel has allowed us to develop our clients’ availability to reach out to consumers like never before.

Why it matters.

It’s easy to buy the simple things online – I’m a sucker for going online, searching and clicking on the top result without giving much thought about what I’m going for. But with my second child now starting to destroy my TV through grubby hands and thrown toys (thanks, son!), there’s absolutely no way that I’m going to buy a replacement unit without going into a store (physical preferably, online works too) and trying to get opinions and information from store staff or be sold the dream by a brand ambassador.

And even if I can’t go into a store, I have a wealth of other options available: online video chats; or, if I’m feeling a bit shy, keep it to voice conversation; text messaging with brands and retailers, either a real person or a chatbot that can send me in the right direction.

Now, while these interactions with people take place naturally in the physical world, it’s crucial that as a brand, you can create these nudge-points in the omnichannel world. After all, there is a chemistry to shopping, that hit of dopamine when we feel like we’ve made the right choice. Going on a successful shopping trip is akin to us emerging from the caves and going on a successful hunt; I still remember carefully and dutifully driving home that TV.

How often have we been standing in-run looking at the wide array of appliances only to be swayed in our final decision by the happy and knowledgeable brand rep who can talk us through the options? On average, more than enough times for a brand’s investment in a brand ambassador to return a profit, but the real question is actually, is your brand able to create these nudge-points with human interaction in the online journey as well? If not, then maybe Blue Square can help you out?

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