Another article congratulating the brilliance of technology, as it revolutionizes our fashion industry, seems to me as a writer, let alone a reader, boring and over-hashed. At GLITCH, we want to bring to you the innovations and technical creations at the front of the picket line, negotiating the way to a healthier industry, but the reality is that not every move in digitisation flies the flag for the same cause. Whilst technology has torched a cut-through to more streamlined methods of production and buying, it has also heavily embellished the advertising pathways shoppers are inundated with. Disquietingly, their acknowledgement of this advertising, can be scarily non-existent. To provide our readership with fair news, and balance, and perhaps encourage a more informed consumer, GLITCH investigated how post-purchase technology is keeping a grip on brand loyalty bases, and one that is perhaps hugging our shoulders a bit too tightly.
Knee Jerk Clicks: AI Personalization & Impulse Buying
One way in which brands are utilizing tech to maintain consumer interaction is by making it drastically easy for consumers to overfill their baskets, and come stumbling out of virtual stores with their virtual arms overladen with products. In its simplest form, pop up advertisements are intense and hectic on most websites, and completing an order confirmation has extended into a multiscreen process. Messaging such as “Have you forgotten….” or “Might you need….” is commonly used to infer a sense of necessity in adding more items to the cart. Now, with the advancement of AI and highly personalized technology, the systems are reading site visitors’ shopping bags. Their suggestions become so stylised to the selection they have already committed to, that the pop-up ads almost echo the advice of a personal stylist or trusted friend. According to a study by McKinsey and Company, companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue than average players. And with the calibre of AI that can now be integrated into the shopping experience, the quality of personalization is unbeatable – “Personalization is not only a crucial capability, it’s one that punches above its weight”. The muscles of these e-commerce sites are ensuring you leave with a head to toe outfit, whether you entered the website to do so or not. These marketing tactics are certainly helping brands hit their repurchasing and repeated customer quotas, but are they also encouraging a more wasteful consumer? They are providing shortcuts that are manipulative and difficult to decline.
Purchase Now, Get A Promo
I set you the challenge of going and finding a day when all the major high street retailers are “promotion-less”. I am confident that you will struggle. In our current consumer environment, it seems that sales are no longer a post-season occurrence, but a continuous and unending stream of activations. With every purchase you make, you are offered a level of discount or store credit if you commit to a secondary purchase. Retailers are almost ungrateful or unthankful for a consumer’s authentic decision to connect with a brand and with one piece. Instead, they want to push more products towards them and are focused purely on the numbers counting upwards. Technology has made this pull of promotion stronger, and now consumers face offers that uncannily pair with the selections they hovered too long over, or that product page they’ve visited time and time again. There is no longer a sense of randomness to the promotion at hand. Rather, the promotion has been curated specifically for you, reading your every mouse step across the website. Retailers take their chances, and it’s all a game of likeliness matched up against profit margins. If this system of offer bargaining wasn’t intrusive enough, many of these sales are now armed with countdown clocks or aggressive criteria that can include the obligatory following of social channels, or surrendering your email to spammy data files.
Loyalty Systems and Data Scanning
Loyalty systems are no new feat, and at their base level take the format of stamped swatches of cards, that reward consumers for competitive purchases. In 2023, loyalty systems have become phone-integrated passports or apps. The convenience of having your loyalty card always in your back pocket, integrated into your phone, seems convenient and more practical than keeping tabs on a raggy piece of paper nestled in a wallet. However, these digital integrations are doing much more than just tallying your purchases, and are collecting vast amounts of data that give a detailed picture of your post-purchase habits. Integrating a credit card as part of a loyalty programme is the next step, and can widen these realms of data collection further. According to Len Covello, CTO of Engage People Inc, and contributor to Forbes, “An exclusive physical or virtual card that members can leverage to earn and redeem rewards delivers deeper insights into customer behavior, preferences and spending patterns—especially with the introduction of advanced data analytics and machine learning techniques.” Credit card and loyalty card integrations lead back to a greater ability to personalize and improve consumer targeting. Which in turn, leads to repeated but most likely unnecessary, purchases.
The LowDown: GLITCH’s Take On Post-Purchase Tech
The more GLITCH delves into the various methods of how tech can streamline the relationship and data exchange between realtors and consumers, the more the dynamic seems unnatural. Whilst technology is creating invaluable spaces for inventive marketing, when is marketing deemed unethical and intrusive, and who draws the line? How effective this post-purchase tech is, is also something to be debated. Whilst on the one hand, the tech highlighted above does improve conversion rates, there is something to be flagged about the importance of making the consumer experience tasteful and not overbearing. Flashy adverts and extended confirmation processes, can all but have the opposite effect, frustrating the 2023 consumer, who, quite frankly, already circulates a world awash with militant marketing. That all being said, the rightfulness of aggressive tech-driven marketing strategies shouldn’t be dampened depending on how intelligent and aware we deem the consumer to be. As the world advances, and our capitalist economy becomes hungrier and greedier, there is no doubt that these tactics will become more sly but more impactful, veiled in the camouflage of technology.
At the same time, perhaps with open debate about the risk and cost effects of technological integration, we can curate a purchasing journey where technology is used in a more healthy way. With a staggering 83% of consumers believing that the post-purchase experience could be significantly improved, the space is a lucrative cavity that brands can try to fill, whether that be by advancing their technology or simply honing their existing protocol. There are certainly avenues, where the likes of AI, personalization, and deep data analysis can be used to improve the consumer and realtor experience conjointly, without nonchalantly encouraging a wasteful dynamic. Post-purchase technology has a place and a footing to incentivize more conscious purchasing, particularly within the sphere of turns, where consumer ignorance has become almost cancerous. Co-occurring with forum style spaces, that allow purchasers to review products and communicate any mal-descriptions, technology can allow consumers to share their reviews of products via video, photo and the trusty art of words. Polished, edited, studio lit, “perfect” imagery has been the accepted norm for so long. Now, with the power of social sharing and the construction of community-led platforms, perhaps we can curate more accurate product portrayals and more authentic relationships between seller and buyer. Perhaps machine learning technology can embellish these sorts of arenas, rather than purely being used as a pawn in the manipulative advertising game.
Written by Hebe Street from GLITCH Magazine