Forrester isn’t beating around the bush in its most recent assessment of the B2C environment. According to its latest report, “If you’re in a consumer-facing business…you’re entering the most frenzied phase of innovation you’ve ever experienced, and consumers won’t let you rest anytime soon.”

The new report, Vast, Fast, and Relentless: Consumer Buying Enters a New Era, looks at the state of the customer-empowered commerce landscape — and what’s to come for B2C businesses who are ambitious enough to keep up.

Once timid in the face of online buying, consumers are now more willing than ever to test new brands and products. They are unrelenting in their use of personal devices when shopping, savvy when researching products and motivated to find the best buying experiences. Most importantly, they no longer need to choose between price, convenience and emotional experiences — they can opt for brands with modern delivery models that provide all three.  

Where does that leave your brand? The choice is yours.

Four Forces Shaping B2C Buying

Forrester indicates the future of B2C buying will not involve a shift from traditional to digital, nor will self-service be fully abandoned for delivery. Instead, the future includes a world laser-focused on consumer motivations and the four forces shaping consumer buying habits:

1. Price and Convenience

Marketplaces are now known for their convenience, accessibility and skill in finding the best prices. It’s this ability to aggregate myriad options that will lead to the displacement of long-held household names, just as travel websites led to the demise of travel agents.

2. Consumer Experimentation

Today’s consumers expect and reward experimentation. Brands that woo consumers with innovation are investing more in R&D (product and experience development) than acquisition to enable the products themselves to drive growth. Consumers’ personal experiences with the products (i.e., ease of use, effectiveness and emotional impact) are what influence their decision to continue or abandon use. 

3. Values-Based Buying

Corporate ethics span a range of topics, from data privacy and transparency to sustainability and human rights. Forrester believes companies that haven’t yet established and communicated values are already laggards — and the need to do so will only become more crucial. 

4. Evolving Business Models

The time has come for companies with traditional commerce practices to stop fighting the new landscape and adapt. They must showcase their relevance to customers and evaluate multiple concurrent business models that prioritize:

  • Alternative revenue streams. Shake up the value chain. Sell to other buyers, remarket existing products or rethink assets completely. 
  • New touchpoints. Omnichannel touchpoints have evolved greatly over the pandemic. Taking advantage of these new touchpoints means adapting to consumers’ changing preferences
  • New channels. Firms must begin to engage customers with emerging technologies like augmented or virtual reality, messaging, assistants, voice and shoppable video. 
  • New partnerships. The way forward is together for modern brands and retailers. Just look to partnerships and “shops within shops” like Kohl’s-Amazon, Kohl’s-Sephora or Target-Disney. 

The forces shaping B2C buying may seem overwhelming to some, but the biggest imperative is a long-term strategy that allows you to stay nimble in the face of ever-changing consumer demands. ChannelAdvisor is well-versed in the changing e-commerce landscape. We help brands increase their relevance and revenue by expanding to more channels, optimizing their existing strategies and reaching more buyers with effective marketing. 

Download the full Forrester report, Vast, Fast, and Relentless: Consumer Buying Enters a New Era, for more survey findings, insightful charts and advice for thriving in the modern era. 

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