8 seconds! Just 8 seconds! This is the estimated average attention span of the human brain, according to an American study conducted in 2015 - one second less than the attention span of a goldfish in a bowl! The idea behind this is to inform marketers of the attention people are liable to pay to digital communications, given the huge amount of commercial offers and various information they are bombarded with. While this figure is a subject of debate, the fact remains that brands need to demonstrate agility in order effectively interact with consumers. Unified commerce can be a valuable aid to catch their attention.
In any event, the "8 second" myth has become so well established that the result was even (mistakenly) attributed to another study carried out by Microsoft. However, the latter (which is based on quantitative surveys and neurological studies) provides a precious lesson: human attention is changing the way it grants time. If it's boring, it switches. If it's interesting, it focuses.
In other words, our attention is not necessarily reducing; it is becoming more demanding and selective in the way it processes information. It is dealing with information in an increasingly intense manner. When people tap something on their screen, looking for a product or service, they don't want to get lost in the maze of a website or be deluged with offers on their mobile, in the store or anywhere else. They want brands to satisfy them when they choose, care for them, and talk to them in a personalised and relevant way, without a lot of chatter.
It is against this background of demand for personalisation of the consumer experience that brands are adopting a unified commerce approach. This does not mean that a brand needs to be omnipresent, but that it must be able to interact effectively with consumers in order to provide them with a smooth, pleasant and efficient experience, in phase with their consumption habits. This is a bit like the old saying that the "customer is king", meaning that everything must be done to make sure they are happy and that they return!
This paradigm shift is a major challenge for brands. Customers no longer want brands to appear everywhere, via websites, mobile apps, text messages, interactive corners or other physical and virtual points of contact. They want brands to take into account their point of view and preferences. In other words, "The Customer Is The Channel" (as stated by the American retail giant Target), and customers' behaviours and expectations are the keys to reach them with relevance and without intrusion.
The challenge to be met is a minor revolution for brands. For them, being able to find the right way to interact with their customers means knowing them well and being able to talk with them in line with their personal expectations. While some will favour a mobile app to rent a car, for example, others will prefer going to a branch, comparing prices on Google or receiving a personalised letter at home. Unified commerce means that customer personalisation must be the central focus.
Personalising the commercial relationship requires harmonisation and synchronisation of all sales channels. This is the idea behind unified commerce. In other words, and to continue with the example of car rental, prices given on the website, on the mobile app, in branches and in the catalogue need to be consistent. In addition, each customer's criteria and habits need to be integrated in all of these channels. The right interaction means catching people's attention!
Paul Camicas, e-Commerce Practice Manager, SQLI