In a world where customer experience is now as important as – or even more so – than the product itself, brands can no longer compete based just on price and functionality. They need to be relevant and they need to provide value. In order to do that, they need to understand their customers’ needs and preferences like never before.

In 2019, brands need to focus their efforts on making sure customers get value that goes beyond the product, consider the benefits of subscription-based models for their business, and implement AI and IoT technologies to shape the in-store and online customer experience.

Experiences will overtake price and product in 2019.

Next year, we’ll see a drastic shift in focus from product and price to an emphasis on customer experience. Recent studies suggest that millennials spend more money on doing things than on buying products. Yet, they aren’t the only age group that puts a high value on experiences over goods. When it comes to in-store customer experience, baby-boomers prefer the human touch that comes with a twist of technology innovation, such as expecting store staff to carry smart devices to assist with their inquiries.

2019 will be a pivotal year for brands and retailers to focus their efforts on making sure customers get value that goes beyond the product. When buying online, customers expect relevant and valuable interactions from the brand they’re buying from. In fact, eighty percent of consumers would voluntarily reveal personal information in exchange for these interactions. When this works, strong relationships between the brand and the customer are formed, with the brand moving from being a product provider to a trusted adviser with a purpose.

There will be an increase in the use of shopbots and chatbots for better customer experience in-store and online.

With the advent of Industry 4.0 we’re going to see a big rise in the number of online intelligent agents helping with customer queries not only online, but also in-store. The use of AI and IoT to improve the in-store experience is becoming more desirable by customers – a recent survey suggests that 27% of millennials would be keen to be helped by robots in-store and 20% of baby-boomers would like to have technologies available to them in-stores in order to find items easily.

While we will always expect that human touch in-store, the role of shopbots can complement this experience. For example, shopbots could help customers easily locate items in store or point them to similar items if the ones they are looking for are out of stock. By entering their email addresses or signing up with their fingerprint on the shopbot, customers could be targeted with individusalised “Offers of the Day”, based on the personal information they’ve already shared with the retailer.

Many high-street brands will be adopting shopbots for their ecommerce platforms as well to provide an experience where customers will be targeted with individualised deals and ‘inventory’ which has been created by the bot, based on that person’s previous interactions with the brand.

More brands will move to subscription business models in 2019, with the automotive market being impacted the most.

Many brands, from apparel through to health, are already adopting subscription-based services, but the automotive market will see the most dramatic change in 2019 in order to reflect shifts in consumerism. With car subscription, customers will no longer be restricted to traditional car buying and leasing methods. Essentially, consumers will pay a monthly fee to a manufacturer for access to several vehicle models in a lineup. This fee would also cover the cost for insurance, maintenance and road assistance of the car.

Volvo Cars is one car-maker that is a step ahead, having announced its focus on subscription-based services with its Care by Volvo programme, which will completely change the perception of car ownership. In fact, its CEO recently suggested that half of the company’s revenue by 2025 would come from consumer subscription services.

Why is this relevant to customer experience? The customer of today prefers omnichannel offerings and more personalised experiences that are convenient and make them feel supported, informed and in some cases, entertained. Therefore, every organisation should be reviewing their business models in 2019 to ensure it reflects these shifts in consumerism.

In 2019 marketers will need to revisit their customer experience strategies to find new ways of providing value to customers as a good product just isn’t enough anymore.

Paul Fennemore

Paul Fennemore


Paul Fennemore, C-Suite Level Digital Transformation & Customer Experience Consultant, Sitecore.