Technology is fundamentally changing the domains of our personal lives and our means of living, setting the context in which retailers and manufacturers are challenged to differentiate themselves well enough to earn their shoppers’ business.

Consumer personal technologies and enterprise systems of engagement create “personal services webs” within which consumers define their needs and set their expectations and retailers and other B2C businesses establish their unique selling proposition and generate revenue and margins.

According to a new IDC Retail Insights study, “IDC PlanScape: Health Hearth Personal Service Webs – Transforming Lives and Industries”, ecosystems of online services, apps, devices and software will, within five years, radically transform how 110-million US households manage their $8 500 annual grocery budgets and streamline hundreds of hours handling onerous, time-consuming, mistake-prone and hard to co-ordinate chores.

“Health hearth personal services webs stand ready to transform the basis of competition and industry structure of food and related retailing, manufacturers’ approach to channel and trade fund management, health insurance, wellness and lifestyle publication, and personal technologies,” says Greg Girard, programme director at IDC Retail Insights.

“Companies taking leadership positions defining health hearth personal services webs will gain the opportunity to out-uber Uber,” he adds. “Think about it, Uber changes how you use a taxi. Here, companies can help their customers pare down their monthly grocery expenses, save time and effort on shopping chores, and care for themselves and their loved ones day in and day out. What’s more, these companies will increase their revenues and reduce their own costs and risk.”

C-level retail executives should start readying their companies now to compete with a personal services web strategy. IDC Retail Insights offers the following guidance:
* CEO: Champion new commercial, content, data, and analytics relationships with CPG partners and beyond with insurers and pharmacy benefits managers to create new shopper incentives.
* CMO: Define value in terms of daily life outcomes beyond product quality and price, shopping convenience, and assortment, and create new relationships with lifestyle and well-being publishers.
* Chief merchant: Change the error-prone, primitive “comp shop” and pricing processes with big data and analytics to outsmart competitors with predictive analytics.
* CIO: Lead system, process, analytics and data strategies for algorithmic shopping markets and new monetisable information flows.
* Chief omni-channel officer: Extend customer engagement deep into home online-services, apps, content, and devices.

Health hearth personal services webs emphasise the critical importance of managing information and content flows to differentiate any retailer from its competitors. Information management and content distribution are core Google and Amazon competencies, making them transformational agents and threats in the retail space.