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Shoppers Want High Tech, But Also Human Touch

The public has spoken about immersive shopping experience: while they’re all for apps and gizmos that make shopping a breeze, people will always look for the human touch.

Shoppers looked for that welcome face saying “hello” to them.

Grocery Headquarters reported on the results of a survey released by the tech firm, Interactions, on “What Shoppers Want from Retail”. The perceptions study had over 1,000 adult participants and aimed to “understand how to successfully integrate human and computerized interactions into a shopper’s retail journey.”

According to the results, 84% of consumers expect retailers to have technological features which improve the customer shopping experience. However, 62% are still motivated by human interaction – a smile or a greeting from a real person – when entering the store premises.

“Consumers want both digital and human interfaces today. They desire the integration of technology into their shopping experience, but nothing can truly replace the accessibility of a traditional store associate,” Bharat Rupani, president of Interactions, was quoted in the report. He added: “The key for retailers is to balance human interaction with technology to streamline and compliment the consumer’s overall retail journey.”

High-Tech Shopping is Immersive

However, while shoppers like the idea of interacting with a real person while they shop, they are also eager to immerse themselves in the advancements happening on the e-commerce scene. These include targeted notifications which are sent via mobile or email, 3D printed customizable products and fast checkout.

Pie graphs showing shopper preferences for tech and human interactions.
Your business model should strike a balance between human interaction and savvy tech.

But to round off the customer experience, shoppers want the assurance of a friendly, human face. This means that retailers invest in both technological advances and personal customer services.

Retail giant Wal-Mart tried to do away with its store greeters five years ago but quickly re-instated them. The store greeters have been one of Wal-Mart’s fixtures in over 5,000 stores for 30 years. The move was initially meant to save money and improve efficiency. However, the store greeters were reinstated last year because aside from digital coupons and faster checkouts, shoppers looked for that welcome face saying “hello” to them.

This is a bold step back from the drive to automate and digitize everything. The Food Marketing Institute estimates that 20% of all grocery purchases will be done online by 2025. The current figure sits at only 2% What this survey reveals is that no matter how convenient it is to shop for items online, consumers will still go to a physical store for the chance to interact with another human being.

This indirectly answers the issue of whether or not humans will ultimately be eased out by machines in workplaces. Over the years, companies like Aldi, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Lidl have been cutting back on associates in favor of automated systems and self-service stations.

Reduced labor saves retailers money, but these companies may end up losing more when shoppers stop patronizing them for being too “automated”.

Hacking Threats to Watch in 2017

Social engineering has become the new buzzword in the digital sphere. The tactic is used in more than 66% of all online hacking threats today and is becoming a major international problem.

Phishing accounts for 77% of all socially based attacks.

Hackers use social engineering as a form of deception to manipulate people into handing over their personal or confidential information so they can use it for fraudulent activities.

Here, Bold Business highlights the main ways in which social engineering occurs so that you can protect yourself and your business from hackers.

4 Examples of Social Engineering Hacking

According to Fortune, there are four examples of social engineering occurring today:

1) Vishing (voice deception): This includes phone scams where criminals call a victim to get hold of their personal information and change passwords to bank accounts, email accounts and more.

2) Phishing (email deception): In which the hacker uses emails to gain personal information from a user, usually in the guise of an official bank email asking for financial and log in details.

An illustration of possible hacking threats and  attacks.
With technological advances comes an increase in malicious tools.


3) Impersonation: Where an individual can enter your personal space or business and pretend to be an official to gain confidential information.

4) Smishing: This is a relatively new form of deception, and uses text messages to impersonate official organizations to gain personal information.

According to Social Engineer, an agency that offers training and consultation on how best to fight this new wave of hacking, social engineering is a form of manipulation that isn’t particularly sophisticated or unique but is able to press the right buttons with victims.

“Phishing accounts for 77% of all socially based attacks, but businesses targeted in vishing attacks lost $43,000 per account, and individuals targeted through impersonation attacks lost $4,200 on average,” Social Engineer states.

Top Social Engineering Scams

Fortune has listed the top scams that Social Engineer says both businesses and consumers should be aware of in 2017.

1) The IRS scam: Hackers call their victim claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The hacker will already know quite a bit of information about the user, like their address and other personal details, and will then try to gain further information. The hacker then tells the victim that they owe a small amount in unpaid taxes, normally a few thousand dollars then gives them a bank account to transfer the money.

2) Ransomware: A prime example of this were the recent cyber-attacks in the UK, where hackers targeted NHS hospitals and infected computer terminals with malicious software. Each computer terminal had to pay $300 to unlock their device and to stop the hackers from deleting personal and confidential information for millions of patients. The practice is widespread right around the world.

3) Business Email Compromise or BEC scams: The hacker will break into an email account to obtain the financial data stored there, through emails containing bank statements or wire transfer details. They can sometimes gain access to the information by sending an email containing malware which once opened infects the computer and the information can be captured. This practice is particularly damaging to businesses because employees will unwittingly help hackers gain access to such information.

Considering all the above, it’s extremely important to ensure that businesses invest in effective cyber security measures. Hackers are finding new and sophisticated ways of infiltrating businesses on a daily basis, so it’s important to counteract these threats by ensuring your devices are secure.



Impact of Digitization on Business Environment Through Disruptive Tech

Since almost the first PC, business has been pressured to automate and adapt to digital transformation. At one time there was a distinction between computerization and automation. That line has all but disappeared with machine learning and AI. Today, the digital frontier is in cloud computing and the internet-of-things platform.

Bersin stresses that jobs must be created to be more human-centered.

Digitization or digital transformation is changing the world of business. We are discovering that computers and robots rather than replacing humans are making the workplace more human. Disruption and disruptive technologies are the order of the day.

Many companies are embracing the future possibilities. But some have failed to see the future and modernize, they are stuck in a rut that is no longer relevant. In a sense, the future has passed them by without their even being aware of it.  Some, companies are stymied and left in the lurch while they try to catch up by using new technology.

“Our digital business research with MIT showed that 70% of the CEOs believe their core business model is under attack, and 90% of them believe they do not yet have the right leadership team or technical skills to adapt,” wrote Josh Bersin in a Forbes article. Bersin is a global research analyst, public speaker, and writer who founded Bersin by Deloitte. He is also an influencer and expert in corporate human resources and talent management technology.

According to Bersin, the concept of BYOD, cloud computing or software-as-a-service (SaaS), voice-over-IP (VoIP), as well as using mobile devices to communicate with one another has had a profound impact on the way business is conducted. These technologies have made transactions go faster.

Digital Transformation and the Nature of Work

Picture of digital devices and the cloud

In this environment, where blue-collar work has been replaced by robots, humans are forced to use other value propositions. They should be able to use technology to work smarter, better, and faster. They should also have skills which cannot be replicated by robots. Augmenting the workforce’s skills with technology is the easiest thing to do. Putting an added value proposition into the mix is more complex.

Bersin stresses that jobs must be created to be more human-centered. At some point, it will be much easier and faster to have a robot do the work of barista. In the meantime, it still requires human interaction with the customer to drive those sales. It is a trade-off, speed of the transaction vs. the human touch.

Over time, technology will evolve to the point where the integration of human intention and technology will be almost seamless. In that rapidly approaching future, people will require the skills to work with automation, databases, and robots in order to be productive and useful. It is a future that holds bright promise, but it also requires intelligent preparation and the development of human capital alongside disruptive technology.


Instagram Flags Paid Posts: Trust is the Factor

Instagram just stepped up to the plate with a decision to “flag” paid posts. It seems obvious that users of a service should be able to tell what is an ad, and what is a real message from their friends. But, clever marketers have increasingly blurred that line, much to the frustration of users. Instagram made the decision in the interest of user trust to require ads to be identified as such.

Subheads noting “paid partnership with” will be added to posts.

Distinguishing “authentic” posts from paid posts is not always easy on Instagram.

Marketers tell us repeatedly that millennials want authenticity and personalized marketing. Hence the rise of the marketing power of social media.  “Consumers trust the opinions of those in their social media group, including friends, bloggers, and celebrities, more than messages they are getting direct from brands,” Liz Dunn, founder and CEO of Talmage Advisors, a brand strategy consulting firm, told CNBC in an interview in 2016. Social media accounts with large followings are referred to as “influencers” and are highly sought-after by purveyors of products, services, and events.

Trust Was a Factor in Instagram Paid Post Decision

But how trustworthy is the social media platform when that “authentic-looking, apparently user-generated” photograph or story turns out to be paid product placement?

instagram screen shot with flagged posts
Millennials value transparency above all else.

To establish transparency and help users clearly identify paid for content, Instagram is unveiling a new branded content tool. Subheads noting “paid partnership with” will be added to posts where the Instagram user has been paid to feature a product, service, or event. To incentivise businesses to use the tool, Instagram will provide performance data for the sponsored post.

Instagram began humbly in 2010 as a site where users could easily share photos and videos.

In 2013, the company began selling advertising to generate profits.  By 2017, over one million active advertisers pay to place their ads on the platform. Since its inception, Instagram has become one of the primary social media sites for ‘influencing’ both the culture and the buying habits of the millennial generation. Ninety percent (90%) of the users are under the age of 35.

To maintain the trust of its millennial users, Instagram will now tell you who’s getting paid to post.