Pop quiz: Is switching from paper flyers to email marketing an example of digital transformation?
Answer: It depends. While the term “digital” evokes a flurry of paper shedding, a true transformation goes further. Digitization moves processes to digital form. Digital transformation encompasses a re-thinking of current systems. It asks questions before making decisions. It ponders inquiries like, “How can we better reach customers?”
It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of digitization. Digital transformation requires more thought—yet the rewards for that extra time can be astounding. Let’s look at trends that are underway in commerce. We’ll then apply how digital transformation can be used to come out on top amid the e-revolution.
Among consumers, 71% expect to have personalized interactions with companies. If this doesn’t happen, more than three-quarters of shoppers will get frustrated. Take a customer researching the latest trends in boots. If they sign up for text messages from a retailer, they’ll find value in knowing about footwear-related promotions.
When Hasbro launched its submission platform Spark, the entertainment retailer created a new path to interact with users. Suddenly anyone connected to their market could share an idea—and expect to be heard. The open innovation platform allows users to participate in the creative process of building the next best thing.
Social media, video chats, and online communities hold the same power. Customers can learn about the brand, ask questions, and get help in real time. Retailers that are present and available to shoppers will build rapport, goodwill, and great experiences.
Riding the train to work, an employee scrolls through their phone. In their Instagram account, they see an influencer recommending a chemical-free shampoo. They click on an accompanying link, find the product, and put it in their cart. Just then, the train reaches their stop and they get off. That evening, while watching television, the worker grabs their laptop, turns it on, and heads to the same site. They expect to find the shampoo in their cart so they can easily check out. After ordering it, they might ask their at-home Alexa to see if the order is on their way.
The process appears seamless on the outside. In the inner workings of commerce, pioneering retailers have carefully orchestrated these jumps. The technology makes it easier to change formats and create a unified look across all channels.
The clicking that occurs during online shopping leaves a trail. Just how is that information gathered and used? Perhaps the more pressing question is, “What type of data would be helpful to have?” Items could be tracked from warehouse to checkout. When an item sells fast, an alert can be given. And if nothing sells, that’s a sign too. Production processes can respond more quickly when information is readily available.
A consumer clicks on a home furnishings site to see a closer view of a gray recliner. “Just how will that look in my living room?” they wonder. What would happen if they could open an app and “see” exactly how that piece would appear in their space? They might be more likely to carry out the transaction. After all, they’ve experienced what it’s like to have that recliner in their room. All that’s missing is the comfort of sitting in its deep cushions.
The future of commerce is increasingly connected and personal. Retailers that examine the “why” prior to tech implementations will be heading in the right direction. Aligning digital transformation with the commerce revolution is the first step toward long-term success.
As a founding member and CEO of OSF Digital, Gerry has more than 15 years of experience managing start-ups and medium-size IT businesses and driving them to peak performance. With background in Enterprise Applications, IT Services and Consultancy, Gerry's impressive client and business portfolio sets him in the new breed for global entrepreneurship.