Definition and emergence of Digital Technology
“Digital technology are electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store and process data. These include social media, online games and applications, multimedia, productivity applications, cloud computing, interoperable systems and mobile devices.” (wenso.co.uk)
The development and advancement of digital technology begun with the Internet. The revolution of digital technology begun in 1947-1979. In the 1980s, computers became more familiar. The first cell phone was also introduced in this decade. In 2000s, digital technology had begun to spread all over the world and continued to advance. (techopedia.com)
Before the introduction of digital technology, customers were required to walk in stores to make their purchase. Imagine if a customer has never visited that store before, he/she might get frustrated if they cannot find the items they are looking for in the aisles or they have to wait in very long lines to cash and might even leave the store without purchasing anything.
Implications and challenges for the marketing department of Massy Stores Guyana Inc. in increasing digital customer purchase behaviour
Digital technology in retail is all around us today and should be embraced by any retailer who is serious about meeting the expectations of today’s digitally-aware customers. The rapid rise has greatly influenced the way consumers buy resulting in businesses being forced to maximize customers’ experience utilizing digital technology. As such, this report will focus on the implications and challenges for the marketing department of Massy Stores Guyana Inc. in increasing digital customer purchase behaviour.
The digital Point of Sale (POS)/ Self-Checkout, a transaction system, has experienced great increase in popularity over the past few years. It is very time efficient and exactly what shoppers nowadays look for. Service is expected to be immediate and customers are even willing to leave back their selected items if the process takes too long. Many supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Tesco are now seeing the value of allowing customers to take care of their own checkout process and are choosing to use this system. This would be a great implementation for the marketing department of Massy Stores Guyana Inc. Customers being able to check out when they’re ready would offer more convenience to their shopping experience. The opportunities for using digital point of Sale (POS) to enhance customer relationship are endless.
Customers can checkout and pay for their groceries faster rather than dealing with long lines at the cash register that get backed up. This system is really helpful during peak sales time when the supermarket experiences a large influx of customers. This can reduce the length of time and checkout lines which should keep their customers happy. Customer transactions can be taken care of with minimal space. In some cases, up to six (6) kiosks can take up the amount of space as a single traditional checkout area with a cashier. (business.org)
While people who are familiar with technology can navigate their way through self-checkout systems with ease, it can be difficult for others. This would require a staff to be knowledgeable or trained to assist these customers. Employees are unable to monitor customer transactions closely at self-checkouts so theft becomes easy. Some customers enjoy face to face interaction with cashiers and this system takes that away even though it is very efficient.
“Online shopping is the activity or action of buying products or services over the Internet. It means going online, landing on a seller’s website, selecting something, and arranging for its delivery. The buyer either pays for the good or service online with a credit or debit card or upon delivery.” (marketbusinessuse.com) The marketing department can have a website that enables customers to do online shopping. Customers can shop online using different devices such as computers, tablets and smart phones. The online shopping website should allow customers to browse the company’s wide range of products and services. Images of the products along with products information, prices and availability should be included. The website should also feature promotions and special savings.
Online shopping has grown rapidly over the past years. It is easy and can be done anytime from the comfort of home. It saves the trip to go to and from the supermarket and customers would not have to wait in lines to pay. It is ideal for people who are very busy. This would be a great investment by the marketing department as it can widen the customer base resulting in more transactions which will increase sales.
While providing online shopping facility to the customers, cost will be incur cost to have the website professionally designed and developed. Staff with expertise will be required to manage and maintain the website. Online fraud is also a risk.
Last but not least, Browse and Order Hubs can be established. These touch screen devices allow customers to browse the catalogue or scan barcodes on items and explore detailed product information, compare prices and check availability. These devices look like large IPhones and comes with a card payment machine. Customers can choose to order their groceries on the device and collect it at a later date or have it delivered. (econsultancy.com)
In order to have these hubs, expenses will be incurred to buy and install them. Like the self-checkouts, staff would be required to have knowledge on how to use the devices so that they can render assistance to customers who have difficulties in using same.
Definition and characteristics of a Product
“A product is anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption. It includes physical objects, services, personalities, place, organizations and ideas” (Philip Kotler, 1988).
Product is the most important element of the marketing mix. The product marketing mix consists of four (4) Ps, i.e. product, place, price and promotion and decisions on the other elements are dependent on product. The total product includes brand, package and label (kullabs.com) and can be characterized by size, shape, quality, weight and colour.
Definition and characteristics of a Service
“A service is an act of performance that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and doesn’t result in the ownership of anything. Its production may or may not be tied to a physical product” (Philip Kotler, 2009)
Service marketing mix, also known as the extended marketing mix and is different from product marketing mix. It consists of seven (7) Ps. The additional three (3) being people to perform the tasks, physical evidence and the process of the service. Intangibility, inseparability, variability and perishability are the main characteristics of a service. (Philip Kotler, 2009)
Differences between a Product and a Service
People often confuse the terms product and service and use them interchangeably but they are significantly different. (differencebetween.net) The major difference between the two is that a product is tangible which means that it is physical in nature so it can be seen and touched and a service is intangible so it can only be felt and not seen. (differencebetween.net) A product is designed to satisfy the wants and needs of customers and can be taken away. With a service, satisfaction is obtained but nothing is taken away. Services cannot be inventoried and stored for later use or sale since they can only be used at the time they are being offered. On the other hand, products are perishable and can be stored for later use or sale. Products can be quantified and they come in different sizes, shapes and forms. However, services cannot be quantified. Whilst customers may choose different service provider, the concept remains the same. Services cannot be separated from the provider since they are consumed at the same time they are being offered but products can be separated from the owner once the purchase has been made. (differencebetween.net) It is easy to return a product to the seller for replacement or refund if it is wrong or damaged. A service cannot be returned to the provider since it is intangible. The value of a service is offered by the provider while the value of a product is derived from customer consumption. (differencebetween.net)
Marketing an intangible service
“Intangible services are becoming more prevalent as the business world evolves.” (business.com) People require different services to satisfy various needs and wants. Marketing a service to various customers is very challenging than marketing a product because of its intangibility. There are no physical features for customers to see and touch so the sale is dependable on experiential evidence. Some examples of intangible services are travel service, freight forwarding, insurance, repairing, consulting, education and health care to name a few. Customers buy these services based on how it makes them feel.
There are presently no intangible services offered by Massy Stores Guyana Inc. However, ways in which an intangible service can be marketed is recommended should the company decide to venture into offering some form of intangible service in the near or distant future.
When marketing an intangible service, it is important humanize the benefits of the service being offered and make it personal by making an emotional connection through demonstrating how the service you are selling benefit customers whether it’s physically, psychologically and financially. (Forbes.com)
It is important to also build trust because the prospective customers cannot try on or test the service, they are only able to experience it after it is offered. Telling stories of how your service helped other customers, getting customers to do testimonies and customers themselves to spread the word makes selling more real are all great ways to get customers to choose your services. (Forbes.com)
Many times businesses sell services and one of the greatest challenge is making an intangible service a tangible one. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Using pictures and metaphors will give customers something that they can visually identify with. (Forbes.com)
“Instead of having customers pick and choose services, combine them into packages that cater to individual needs and budgets.” (Forbes.com) Incentives such as promotions, discounts etc. can be added to the packages.
Giving samples and extending preview sessions of your service will develop rapport with targeted customers. By doing this, customers will be able to experience what they can accomplish by choosing the service.