Ed Hill, Senior Vice President EMEA, Bazaarvoice today discusses how brands can move from talking about digital transformation to actually doing it!
Those words again: digital transformation. To say that the concept has been discussed to death would be as big an understatement as Jim Lovell’s ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem’.
Brands have been flogging the topic of digital transformation at great length for many years now, so if retailers are not clear on the benefits by now, you’d have to ask why not.
But despite all the talk, brands still have a problem of their own: how do they actually go about embarking on their own digital transformation mission? It might be nice to follow Walt Disney’s famous advice here: ‘The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.’
Easier said than done in business, however. So, how can businesses build a digital transformation strategy that works for them in practice?
Finding the right mix
A cursory Google term for the search ‘digital transformation’ brings up 721 million results in about half a second. For companies still looking to embark on their own transformation, finding the pertinent information they need amongst the noise is very much a needle-in-a-haystack task.
But there are a few simple steps than can help retailers build a digital strategy that works for their business – and customers. First, you need to find and deploy the right mix of technologies.
This will depend on the size and nature of your business. Commonplace technologies that enable omnichannel commerce can be implemented by virtually any retailer. More complex technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) might be difficult – though not necessarily impossible, with the right partner – for smaller businesses who often lack the resources to make it work effectively.
For this reason, brand’s and retailer’s digital transformation strategies need to look different, depending on the industry, customer demographics, growth goals, and other factors that define the business.
So, here are 5 practical steps you can take, as a retailer, to establish a digital transformation strategy that accelerates growth while attracting, retaining, and satisfying customers.
5 steps to a digital transformation that works for you:
- Omnichannel commerce – It is the foundation stone for any digital transformation strategy and can be enabled through the deployment of simple technology that offers customers multiple ways to shop your products seamlessly.
- Endless aisles – One of the main customer frustrations in retail in heading to a store only to find the product they want is out of stock. You can create ‘endless aisles’ to expand the in-store product catalog to encompass online-only items, sold-out products, and special savings bundles by providing in-store tools for customers to complete their shopping journey. These can be self-service kiosks, QR codes or even just employees with tablets. Endless aisles are a key way to help move your ‘digital transformation’ from lip service to customer service.
- Leverage your data – retailers have a huge amount of data available to them. With the right technology platforms, this data can be transformed into consumer insights that can help with the personalization of product offerings, such as discounts, rewards, and other offers.
- Leverage your data… again – Platforms and devices are also available that can collect data for the purpose of optimising operations. Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices should be a part of any digital transformation strategy, the sensors of which can help to deliver data on everything from workflow efficiency to creating better store planograms.
- Experiment with cutting-edge technology – When you have your foundational digital transformation layers in place, you can play around with different innovations to see how they can help your retail business stay at the cutting edge. Retailers have been implementing AR innovatively to help customers test and experience products as they would in-store from the comfort of their homes, and you could test this technology out in your own ecosystem to see whether it works or not.
The above is a series of practical steps or tactics you can deploy to quit talking and start doing when it comes to digitally transforming your business. They’re all steps which are applicable to any retail business, helping to accelerate growth while attracting, retaining, and satisfying customers.
Given the noise out there around digital transformation, it can still be difficult to know where to start when it comes to specifying technologies or solutions. In this case, enlisting the support of a provider with strategic expertise can make the difference between a failed transformation and a successful one. It can also enable brands and retailers to get out of the weeds of technical implementation and instead focus on making progress – so you can quit talking about digital transformation and start doing it.