Disruption is taking place on multiple levels, as companies and startups try to come up with creative ways to cut out the middleman. In some areas, this approach is working quite well, whereas industries such as finance are far more difficult to disrupt. But the middlemen won’t go down that easily and they are starting to come back under a different name; the personal concierge.
The Personal Concierge – A Middleman In Disguise
Despite the true nature of the Internet – with frictionless options and a democratic playing field – consumers are flocking to personal concierge services more than ever. To some people, this might seem to be a mystery that needs to be resolved, even though the answer is right in front of us for anyone to see.
As is the case with any emerging trend, they gain popularity due to a combination of events that have transpired. Companies like Amazon make a strong case for removing any middleman from the equation, although their service level leaves a lot to be desired. Training a “human assistant force” is all but impossible due to their tiny operating margins.
Companies who can offer a user-oriented assistant service are taking the competition directly to their biggest competitor. Plus, searching for products on a mobile device can still be a bit difficult which is another reason personal concierges make sense to a lot of consumers.
The second major reason for the resurgence of personal concierges is due to information overload. In particular, millennial buyers are demanding more assistance and personalization when it comes to their shopping and purchasing experiences. At the same time, this growing need for assistance could lead to an oversaturation of the personal concierge market, putting consumerism in an endless loop.
Last but not least, customer acquisition is the bread and butter of any online business. Or so it should be; acquiring the next generation of customers will pose its own set of risks and challenges. By deploying a personal concierge in advance of things getting out of hand, companies can remain ahead of the curve.
By outsourcing the job of a sales force in the form of cognitive data-drive personal concierges, businesses are preparing themselves for the next iteration of an incentivized MLM model. At the same time, they revamp this business model by removing the pyramid-esque upfront financial commitment.
A Threat To FinTech In General
It goes without saying the popularity increase of a personal concierge is a direct threat to the very industry of companies looking to disrupt the shopping experience. Although, at the same time, this also creates interesting opportunities for the future, especially when taking into account how the Internet of Things is becoming a major trend around the world.
That being said, the FinTech sector is more than capable of coming up with a counter-service that would render a personal concierge obsolete. Or at the very least, they would be able to improve the current solution, but make it more decentralized and data-efficient compared to its counterpart.
At this time, it remains unclear as to whether or not hybrid AI/machine learning solutions will be the holy grail of user experiences. Similar to most technological trends, there seems to be general excitement in the beginning, yet only time will tell whether or not consumers will keep using their personal concierge in the future.
What are your thoughts on using a personal concierge during the shopping experience? Have you ever used a similar service? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Curve Advisor, Swift One Concierge