I need it now: instant gratification at retail

Retailers are working harder than ever to offer instant results everywhere. Why? Because that's what the customer expects.


I love pizza – the thinner the crust, the better.  And while my opinion is much debated, I believe Domino’s has the best thin crust pie in my neighborhood.

I also have a love-hate relationship with Pizza Tracker®, a widget on Domino’s mobile app and website that allows me to see where my pizza ‘is.’

Why ‘love-hate?’ Because if my pizza’s being prepped, it’s not ready. If it’s in the oven, it’s not on its way. If it’s out for delivery, it’s not at my house now.

The promise of instant results has, if possible, made me less patient.

“Instant gratification takes too long,” said Gene McCarthy, CEO, AISCS, during a workshop at the recent Next Generation Retail US Summit. “Consumers own us right now. We are working for them.”

Indeed, retailers are working harder than ever to offer instant results everywhere. Same-day delivery services. Smartphone apps. Streaming in seconds.  A recent study of people 35 and under conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project said their resulting ‘hyper-connected lives’ have negative effects, including a need for ‘instant gratification and loss of patience.’

I so get this.  And I didn’t even grow up hyper-connected.

Imagine the generation born after 2000.  More than 70 percent of children age 8 and under have used a mobile device to play a game, use an app or watch videos, and 38 percent of children under age 2 use a mobile device. [Common Sense Media, 2013]

People today can’t even wait for a video to download…or not very long. Ramesh Sitaraman, a computer science professor at UMass Amherst, examined the viewing habits of 6.7 million internet users in a study released last fall. How long were participants willing to wait?

Two seconds.

Then they started to abandon the video. After five seconds, 25 percent are gone; after 10 seconds, 50 percent have abandoned the cute kitten or puppy that originally piqued their interest. And as Internet speeds continue to increase, Sitaraman says these percentages will climb.

I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Didn’t my sister and I pay a premium – on top of the package price — for an Express Pass at Universal Studios Florida so we wouldn’t have to stand in line in the park?

Damn Skippy.

And retailers who want to continue to court customers like me will have to make sure customer service representatives answer all calls in 10 seconds or less, offer support on Twitter, and send not only order verification emails but shipping and arrival status emails as well.

And if they can beat their estimated time, well…they just might keep us around.