Shashin Shah is the CEO of Pimcore Global Services (PGS), an innovation-led, digital transformation enabler that delivers digital solutions.
According to the World Trade Organization, social distancing and lockdowns due to COVID-19 have fueled online shopping, social media use, video streaming, and internet telephony. Ushered by mobile device penetration, channel partnerships, convenient payment gateways, advanced analytics, and increased emphasis on the buying experience, global eCommerce sale is expected to reach $4.8T by 2021 with 2.1B+ shoppers.
At the same time, companies find it challenging to keep up with accelerated digital commerce and increasing customer demands. They struggle to make the most out of massive data flows, several online brand interactions, and increasing channel traffic. Companies must reassess their digital business strategy to weave in immersive buying experiences, prevent channel outages, and generate revenue in the new normal.
1. Go Where Your Customers Are
A big part of the digital business strategy is to deliver easily accessible content and services. You need hosting systems that can scale horizontally to manage increased traffic levels without slowing down or going offline. In doing so, offering an omnichannel experience also becomes a big part of the business strategy since today’s modern, mobile, and digitally-connected customer wants anytime, anywhere access. Such customer audiences have also adopted advanced solutions like connected TVs (Smart TVs), intelligent robot assistants, and integrated IoT devices.
To expand the outreach and acquire new customers, you must tap into every possible channel to reach customers and engage them with enriching, interconnected, and consistent experiences. You can use first- and third-party data to reach your most valuable audiences on every screen. Also, traditional mediums of text messages and email correspondence along with Digital Out-Of-Home (DOOH) advertising like info kiosks and digital signage are also impactful in connecting with end-customers.
2. Make Digital a Priority
You cannot truly digitalize without digitizing. To set forward on the digital journey, you must recreate your processes inside-out. That includes every internal and external business activity.
From shift management systems, online portals for logging and whiteboards, last-mile delivery,order and warehouse management to performance metrics calculation, D2C services, digital drop-shipping, online campaigns, and smart checkouts – everything falls under the digital spectrum. Every brand-customer interaction must be digital or at least have an online counterpart, and every internal operation must also have digital support. Thinking digitally means practicing unified commerce. Once you have integrated such systems and implemented digital strategies, you can attract customers with more options, greater selections, ease of buying, and fast delivery.
3. Simplify Customer Journey As Much As Possible
Cart abandonments are the biggest challenge for eCommerce players. While multiple reasons can lead to this outcome, you must avoid complex processes at all times. Any deficit in the online customer experience can result in instant brand hopping or, even worse - poor brand experience. On the other hand, removing friction with easy payment options, streamlined return processes, simple searching and filter integrations, and personalized customer support can significantly improve your conversion rates.
You can automate the shopping experience to eliminate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, deploy Progressive Web Applications (PWA) for constant correspondence, and even integrate Mixed Reality (MR) experiences for customers. You can also predict products based on history and analytics, optimize authorization rates, integrate AI-enabled chatbots for instant responses, and follow up with impressive, unique messages. The end goal is not to let the incoming traffic affect the response time and resource performance in any way.
4. Learn Fast and Improve Continuously
Never settling is the key. Digital strategies stem from the basic rule of innovation - nothing is constant. Trends will change. Technologies will emerge. Customer demands will evolve. And growth and sustenance can only come by adapting incessantly. So, what should the thumb rule be? Benchmark against yourself and practice diligence in all customer experience endeavors.
You can integrate feedback loops, partner with ISVs, and link forward or backward in the value chain to expose gaps and bridge them. Integrate more solutions, store and analyze more data, or expand personalization to employees – the possibilities are endless. More value is delivered to the customer than before, and competition strives on that edge. For instance, after-sales services, data-driven targeting/retargeting, and customer-centric approach were barely a part of business strategies a few decades ago. Today, they form the core of it.
5. Adjust and Adapt
Finally, your digital business strategy must not limit the delivery of services of online interfaces. You can also adjust your product mix and re-engineer your business models based on digital determinants. By extrapolating data gathered about market dynamics, customer patterns, and competitor offerings, you can completely transform your business.
To drive differentiation, you must experiment with your operations and juggle your capabilities to explore new ways of serving existing and new customers. As the millennials become the decision-makers of more households and fundamentals like headless commerce, open-sourced infra, and Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) become popular, you must adapt continuously. It is time to create an ecosystem and take unified commerce beyond your brand.
To Sum It Up
The recent disruptions in eCommerce present both threats and opportunities, the likes of which companies have never seen before. To survive in the new normal and thrive in the post-pandemic world, businesses must re-examine their digital strategies and ensure business continuity by adopting advanced data management capabilities.