The ‘Uberization’ of society and its effect on location
The phenomenon of ‘ Uberization ’ appears to have brought about a radical change in how, what and why we consume in today’s fast-paced society. Every business has been confronted with this new trend at some point or another, whether by utilising the services of an up-and-coming competitor or simply by witnessing the gradual social changes that are currently taking place in formerly stable or well-regulated businesses and professions.
More than just a trend, Uberization embodies a positive step away from out-of-date business models. This step has been made possible by a combination of factors:
A desire for transparency
Today’s consumer is no longer forced to select a single retail channel when looking to make a purchase. Customers now have the opportunity to choose between physical points of sale, e-commerce websites offering online retailing, or a combination of both. With the rise of multi-channel and ‘web-to-store’ retailing, customers can now select, compare and purchase products online to be delivered in-store or to a collection point of their choosing. This time-saving approach offers the client numerous advantages, including more choice, better pricing, ease of purchase, and a no-pressure approach to selecting or purchasing a product or service. Customers’ almost irrepressible desire to compare products before making a selection is an essential factor when it comes to integrating this approach, so that customers ultimately decide to purchase.
More online than offline
Another key factor informing the development of new products and services is our digital footprint. Online devices such as smartphones and tablets, generate significant information when it comes to examining consumers’ buying habits, whether this is obtained from recent searches or previous transactions. This data can often appear somewhat overwhelming, but can be successfully used to effect with the following approaches:
- Targeting potential clients via buyer profiles/scoring: Navigation tracking allows online retailers to monitor which products customers are seeking, enabling them to introduce corresponding or complementary products and appropriate price comparisons. The website in question displays general facts (customer satisfaction, product availability) as well as information specific to the purchase (order date, package tracking, provisional delivery date). Thus, during key trading periods such as Christmas, 50% of those who researched on their smartphone bought from a company or brand other than the one they intended to because of the information received on their device in the moment.
- Via user-selected settings: Potential customers can subscribe to information regarding products that may interest them by choosing to be updated according to their interests or preferences. It is the customer themselves who decides the manner, the content and the frequency of the information they receive. At Christmas, 81% of consumers are actively seeking discounts or bargains, campaigns highlighting the possibility of creating alerts or subscriptions are likely to improve sales.
Smooth, streamlined and fast: the key factors at the heart of our buying behaviour
As a result of receiving information that facilitates purchases at the touch of a button, the consumer tends to expect a certain level of flexibility from service providers or businesses, whether asking questions/seeking information directly from the retailer or investigating the availability of the product or service they are interested in.
When it comes to searching for and/or purchasing products, the factors that are important to consumers are clear: speed of response, estimated delivery time, real-time updates regarding time and location of delivery, and the possibility of effecting a refund or exchange without incurring fees or charges.
Technological advances at the heart of innovation
In the case of Uber’s founders, astutely ascertaining the age of their key demographic – as well as how they use their devices – has allowed them to take advantage of the trend.
Uber has successfully seized on a form of technology both pre-existing and yet in constant development: the mobile phone. Without this, it would have been impossible for consumers to contact available drivers. The absence of this rise in demand would have failed to attract prospective drivers, which would in turn have failed to boost the profession and prevented the creation of the supply-de cycle.
- Creation of new platforms and services
These offer target consumers:
Innovative services, including (but not limited to) e-boutiques, platforms to place customers in contact with customer services, etc.
Online retailing is crucially important, allowing the business to remain in contact with potential customers outside of normal trading hours. This also allows consumers to select, order and receive products according to their availability and personal preferences, whether they require advice in-store or simply placing an order without seeking out further information.
- New approaches offering a more attractive package for consumers, as well as one that represents current values: pooling/sharing of existing infrastructures, solidarity with and support of social causes, environmentally friendly delivery models…
- The importance of location
It’s becoming obvious that the Uberization phenomenon owes part of its success to the intersection between geographical proximity and local economies. The expectations of consumers and the possibilities offered by this new model are thus balanced:
Saving time by matching the customer’s demand with the vendor’s ability to supply, as well as following the product or service’s delivery status to avoid potential problems.
Taking control of purchases: clients are able to select the date, time and location of delivery according to what best suits their needs
Being able to offer a competitive price by leapfrogging traditional third parties or intermediaries (who often pose a serious problem when trying to establish a presence in sectors typically considered ‘traditional’)
Location is therefore an essential part of this radically different, ‘Uberized’ approach to sales, linking as it does the client with the service or product they are seeking while adding information regarding geographical proximity, delivery timescale and updates in real-time. With over 400 million parcels sent every year, the e-commerce sector must seek to extract the benefits from these perpetually advancing Location tools.
When examined through the lens of geomarketing, it is possible to consider location based services as a further means of adapting to the changing needs of clients at city, neighborhood and even street level. Aside from being able to pinpoint the location of individual customers, geolocation is a rich source of information when it comes to examining the population density of a given area, as well as the presence of competitors. This subsequently enables the vendor to offer an optimum choice of location when attempting to bring the client and product together. When looking at from this angle, therefore, Location becomes an incubator of innovative and ever-changing solutions to customers’ varying needs across a long-term period, changing consumer behaviour while helping to ensure long-term customer loyalty.