Smart phones, smart grids, smart cars, smarties; everything these days is being chalked up to intelligence (Smarties are purely delicious). There has been and will continue to be, a lot of talk about a phenomenon called the “Smart Consumer.” These consumers are not measured by their IQs, of course, for it is often those with [...]
Smart phones, smart grids, smart cars, smarties; everything these days is being chalked up to intelligence (Smarties are purely delicious). There has been and will continue to be, a lot of talk about a phenomenon called the “Smart Consumer.” These consumers are not measured by their IQs, of course, for it is often those with the highest IQs that are the least adept at purchasing the best product for the value. The Smart Consumer is one who has more information available to them than their fellow Stupid Consumer, who has very little information and therefore almost no point of comparison.
It used to be that coupon-cutters were the smart consumers. They would wait for deals and sales, buy in bulk, and otherwise negotiate around the system of pricing that encompasses retail. They were smart because they took advantage of opportunities to get value, in this case meaning the best quality for the lowest amount of money. Coupons are still huge, so are loyalty programs, refer-a-friend schemes, and the classic “29 or 2 for 50.” But whereas before smart consumers evaluated different brands within the context of their specific stores, now consumers are branching out and evaluating across brands and across outlets.
With access to information through websites, consumers can compare the costs of any product instantly, and figure out if it is better to buy it across town at a different store, online and pay the shipping, or at their normal store. For a little while after the internet came about it seemed like it was a blessing for retail, e-commerce aside, since the best stores with the best web presence could snag customers from their competitors before they had even left the home. But then smart phones came about, and suddenly, those with the best mobile online presence were able to snag their competitors customers from inside their stores.
Armed with better information, a consumer can feel confident in their purchase, and can avoid embarrassing situations of over-paying or missing out on a sale. They also more casually brush away the efforts of sales people, as they (probably) know more about a specific product after their research than the person on the floor with the polo shirt and badge. But that brush off is an opportunity. So is the technology that created the Smarter Consumer in the first place. Meet the Smarter Salesperson.
You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight and you certainly don’t bring a clipboard up to someone holding an iPad. “Would you like to look at the product specs on this piece of paper?” “Paper? What’s that? No, thanks, I’m already looking at a 3D model of the product in front of me and it looks like it is cheaper down the street. I was just using your store as a showroom to make sure that I liked the red color.”
The Smarter Salesperson
The Smarter Salesperson already has the tablet in hand and has keyed up the demo corresponding to the product that a selected customer is looking at. The Smarter Salesperson notices that the person has an amber bracelet, and comments that his aunt makes amber jewelry. He gets a smile and then pretends to notice that the customer is looking at the price. He pulls up the tablet and spins an image of the product and asks if she has any questions, might she be worried about getting the best price? She nods and says that she is not sure if this model is the best for her money but she likes the look. The salesperson takes this into account and shows her on the tablet a comparison of prices for similar products by brand. He also points out that this is really the only comparable product that looks like this, so if she was considering it at all, she would probably in the end go with this one, unless she didn’t want it at all. Satisfied, the customer heads to the register feeling smarter about her purchase because she was just presented with all the information she needed.
The biggest part of the smarter consumer phenomenon is that fact that it can come about in many ways, and it is, in the end, nothing more than making a person feel informed, and therefore good, about their purchase. Smart is only the buzz word of this decade. Salespeople take note.
Tony Hymes is the Editor of the Digital Out Of Home industry website DOOH.com. He produces introductory videos of the companies working across the space from digital signage hardware providers to content companies, DOOH networks, consultants, and software groups. Tony Hymes writes extensively about the strategies behind DOOH advertising, digital signage networks and deployments, and customer engagement trends.