It was in 1997 that a colleague showed me a bulletin board on the World Wide Web, while I was implementing standalone ERP solutions for medium-sized businesses. I hadn’t heard of Amazon at that moment in time. The key driver of digital change for the retail systems I was implementing was the move to telesales, away from the keying in of orders from paper order forms. This was just the beginning.
The mid-sized “catalogue mail order companies” I was working with were working out how to migrate their business models to adopt the faster and more dynamic world of telesales and teleservice. I easily related to these organisations as someone who had just left a large national insurance broker, struggling with the damage to their business from DirectLine. I was keen to help.
The beginning of digital transformation
Telesales now seems quaint, especially as I come across news articles like the announcement that Amazon has just broken the $1 Trillion valuation ceiling, forever changing the way the consumer buys and expects to buy in the process. This instant gratification model, driven by Amazon, only reinforces what everyone involved in Retail today knows; that multi-channel delivery with a strong web presence is vital to growth and survival.
However, the smarter players in the market know that digital transformation is more than effective. Leaders of companies that wish to be more dominant tomorrow will be setting up new technology, as Jeff Bezos did in his garage 24 years ago, that will enable their companies to change the way business is done.
Using the ‘right’ technology
Unfortunately, there is no single technology (“the web”) that will drive the change of the future. There is a mixture of technologies: AI driven Smart analytics, big data, mobility, social media, Internet of Things and smart embedded devices. This makes the business transformation process hard. Where do you start?
Fundamentally, digitalisation and gaining market share starts with a simple concept; knowing your customers better than they know themselves. When you apply strategy to that concept you get a recipe for retail success. Here is where you might start the digitalisation process:
1. Profile your customers
What do your current customers look like? Will they the same customers in 10 years? Different? Are your current customers your ideal customer profile for the product/services you offer? Or do you need to make some changes to your target audience?
2. Revisit your roadmap
Build a different kind of roadmap that maps your customer needs and wishes (expectations) to the products and/or services you deliver now.
3. Conduct a technology evaluation
Customer expectation is a sliding scale. What was considered good service ten years ago is now an expectation. Is your current technology meeting customer demands? Are you able to provide an omnichannel customer engagement model to your customers? Does your digital maturity match delivery? Will it still in 2 years time?
Read the other 3 elements in our part 2 blog. Stay tuned!