Four innovative ways for the go-to-market

Hybrid continuum and risk perception transform the way companies access the market and conceive their service models. Four new forms and a key value for go to market.

Luca Mascaro
CEO & Head of Design

14.01.21 - 5 min read

In these months, we have talked at length about how both companies and people have changed to face a suddenly more complex and, in many ways, more dangerous reality. The risk, both personal and business, is reduced if we rely on fluid systems, which can be modulated according to the opportunity and context.  We have defined those as hybrid systems: they are present simultaneously in the physical and digital world, and each can be accessed without friction or interruption, in a cross, inclusive, and complete way. 

On the one hand, people expect to be able to carry out their activities when they want, where they want, and without being bound by the situation in which they find themselves. On the other hand, companies must identify patterns of accessing the market safe from lockdowns like those we are experiencing or the collapse of technological infrastructure (an eventuality to date entirely theoretical, fortunately, would be added). 

What we have called Hybrid Continuum - which is a condition defined by technological opportunities, behavioural changes - and the perception of risk - defined by the context - also transform the way companies access the market and conceive their service models. 

On the thrust of an existence lived in hybrid contexts, market access will also become such and, for both B2B and B2C products, it will no longer focus on a careful balance between physical and digital access. Still, it will have to rely on hybrid channels. 

Be careful; the market will never be hybrid. It is either physical or digital. Hybrid are instead the forms to access it. Therefore, considering that market access is hybrid, then companies must understand how to bring all services on all channels, including the emerging hybrid ones. 

We have already said this, but it is worth repeating:  these trends were already in place and have experienced a sharp acceleration.  Many of the phenomena that we will tell are already real and will become increasingly common.  We will try to describe the hybrid forms of access to the market, knowing that they are not exhaustive.


Completely autonomous stores

Such is the case with Amazon Go, Amazon's automatic supermarkets. Customers with the Amazon Go app can walk in, put their groceries in their cart and walk out. There are no checkouts; payment transactions occur on the app and minimum store staffing. An advanced sensor system automatically detects when products are picked up or put back on the shelves and tracks them via a virtual shopping cart. When the shopping is done, one can exit the store. The service will send a receipt shortly after that and debits the corresponding amount from the Amazon account.

In automatic or partially assisted stores, shoppers are totally autonomous, use personal and secure items - at least for as long as they are in use, the carts or baskets are sanitized each time -, and do not interact with any interface mutual to other people. 

Businesses had already identified the opportunity from a cost reduction and logistical simplification perspective, and now also from a risk reduction perspective; suppliers can continue to deliver their services safely. 


Physicalization of digital services

The reciprocal of the phenomenon described above is e-commerce with a physical storefront, as in Ikea or some Mediaworld experiments. The store is a kind of showroom, without a warehouse, where people can see the products, try them on if necessary and buy them, paying via digital interfaces or even in cash. The purchase automatically triggers an e-commerce order delivered to the buyer's home or a pick-up point of their choice. 

On the services side, it is the case of digital corners in physical locations through which to activate, for example, and as in Illiad, supply contracts. 

On the one hand, these solutions decrease the risk for companies, which increase the points of access to their offer so that, in case one of the channels is closed they can count on others. On the other hand, it guarantees the inclusion of people, increasing the range of possibilities offered to them.


Human assistants in digital services 

One of the strengths of physical services has always been counting on the competence, empathy and sense of security provided by staff. Today, the trend in physical contexts is to move towards the extreme independence of people, as we have seen in partially assisted stores. On the other hand, there is a contrary trend in digital contexts: users of digital services are traditionally autonomous and poorly assisted. 

Now people are being introduced to provide skilled support services, often using the same employees as in-person services. 

In Ikea Planning Studios - whether physical or digital - for example, people can receive highly skilled support services from designers: they can help design kitchens, or living rooms, either in-person or via a screen-sharing video call. The project generates an order for the warehouse. The designer is the same person who helps the customer finalize the purchase, and during the payment operations (fills the cart, checks the delivery details, defines the payment methods). 

The same is happening in other contexts. Amazon Fresh, to take another example, makes a variety of these solutions available to people: you do your shopping in the store, there are Alexa totems to ask for assistance, but you can also do your shopping via the app or ask a salesperson to do it on our behalf, sharing the shopping list to directly in a call. 

All these apparatuses significantly increase the inclusion of people who can always find a way to do their tasks, even those with low technological competence - everyone can make a phone call, even the elderly. Simultaneously, it reduces the risk for companies and increases the bonds of trust between people and the brand. If you choose to do so, you can dive in a warm relationship, rich in human empathy and value. 

And, where the in-person relationship is not possible, as buying clothes or shoes online, services that simulate the in-store experience are being introduced. There are several digital experiences in which it is possible to purchase the services of a personal shopper who selects personalized clothing for the buyer, based on the information provided by the buyer (size, colours, preferences) on an online form, or through a conversational interface. The order is delivered to the buyer's home, and the person can try on the garments freely, select those he likes and only at the end pay for those he wants to keep and return the others. The payment procedures and especially of return are pre-set so that the tasks for the user are very few and straightforward. 

People thus get a personalized experience, which increases loyalty towards the service that provides it to them and, at the same time, the company can increase market penetration.


Proximity services and home consultants

And in all this complex interweaving of digital, physical and hybrid services, forms of market access that belonged to the past are gaining ground: such as self-propelled stores - the fruit and vegetable van of our childhood or the Migros stores on wheels that served the most remote Swiss valleys -, banking or insurance consultants who visit their customers at home, perhaps assisted by a complex system of digital services to support them. 

This allows brands to increase the diffusion of their services, with small areas present even in places that are difficultly served by large-scale distribution, or remote, and people to enjoy proximity services. 

On the other hand, digital technology - smart assistants, robots for advisors and artificial intelligence services - makes it possible to enhance advisors' capabilities and offer services of extreme value. 

Inclusion first

All the hybrid forms of market access we have tried to describe so far have a focal point: people and their inclusion. 

Of course, in a context of hybrid continuity services must be redundant, transparent and synchronous, people must be able to use them indifferently and seamlessly in one context or another, but this is not the heart of the problem. 

Let's look around; ours is a society made up mainly of elderlies, who may find it challenging to make skilful use of the opportunities provided by emerging technologies. And the problem is not only this: many people have a digital literacy - or even tout-court - low. The people able to make an online purchase in Italy today are about 22 million people, only 6 million able to use complex services, something like Foodora, for example. 

To these are added all forms of impairment or disability that make access to the market at least complex, if not difficult, for many people. 

Inclusion means creating market access closer to these people, at their level of expectation and with a much greater degree of simplicity of interaction. And therefore, it is appropriate to capillary physical access points to digital services, or equip them with a human interface that makes them more accessible.  

After all, we design only for people.