It’s quite evident that consumers have become much more selective about how and where they spend their money these days. Not only are these consumers savvier—they also have more purchasing options than ever before. That’s precisely why delivering more than what your brand promises is essential!
Even though brands work hard to understand industry and consumer needs, they often miss the mark given the quickly changing technology landscape. Unfortunately, continuing to deliver low-tech, low-level experiences leaves consumers wanting more—and it ultimately impacts their perception of your brand.
One of the best—and fastest—ways of effectively engaging consumers is to utilize high-value digital technologies that help differentiate you from your competitors. These value-added services become the “secret sauce” that will position you favorably with your key audiences and increase customer stickiness to give you a competitive edge.
You can start by taking the first critical steps toward a digital transformation strategy that reshapes your business. While it might seem daunting at first, introducing simple yet powerful technology isn’t as challenging as you think. In fact, the adoption of new technology and simple, automated processes can help you deliver a much more compelling customer experience, which then increases both your revenue and profitability.
Businesses Bet Big on Technology
Recent data reveals that businesses are increasingly embracing digital technologies to deliver valuable and convenient services to attract new customers. According to Forbes, enterprises are expected to invest $1.3 trillion (USD) in digital transformation initiatives to improve efficiencies, increase customer value, and create new monetization opportunities. According to IDG, 48% of companies already follow a digital-first approach. Retailers are betting on these digital services to pay off, and the numbers for customer adoption indicate that this is a smart approach.
Where Do You Start?
Even if you realize you must invest in technology, how do you know what technologies make sense for your business? Analyzing your customers’ behavioral spending patterns will provide insight on the best technology solutions for delivering customer-centric services while optimizing your retail operations and future-proofing your business.
One key challenge is simply getting customers through your doors. If you’re not located near a traffic hot spot, capturing the attention of potential clients can be tricky. Making it easier for customers to consume your products and services is critical. And if you get the formula right, customers will find you no matter where you are! That’s where a bit of research can help you use technology to align your offerings with the latest consumer trends and expectations.
Another way to attract these elusive customers is by partnering with a third-party vendor whose complementary services can take your offerings to another level. In this way, you can leverage your brand to increase awareness via endorsement that reaches normally inaccessible audiences (and can remarkably increase your profits). Introducing third-party services that complement your core business can:
- Dramatically increase foot traffic in your stores
- Enhance the overall customer experience
- Help you reach new audiences
- Create additional revenue streams
Technology as Disruptor and Solution
One of the dilemmas of modern retail is just how much technology can be a disruptor and a solution. Breakthrough technologies can elevate consumer expectations to a level that simply isn’t realistic for your business. On the flip side, these technologies can also help you leapfrog the competition by becoming more agile than larger competitors.
As you identify your technology strategy to address rapidly evolving consumer expectations, make sure you understand the vital role your store network plays in monetizing your business. The reality is your store network has an enormous impact on the success or failure of your digital transformation and your strategic business initiatives.
Just think about it. It’s the height of the holiday shopping season. As your store associate attempts to check the inventory application for additional sizes/colors or your customer tries to access the store Wi-Fi to find a coupon, they receive an error message that your system is down. This is frustrating for everyone, and it could ultimately lead to employee turnover, dissatisfied customers, or lost sales.
To provide a flawless and timely delivery of these services (and to ensure they perform as expected), retailers need a robust, secure, and intelligent network. The network infrastructure must be flexible enough to support multiple technologies, including on-premise services, cloud-based applications, and third-party offerings.
In addition to supporting critical front-end and back-office operations, the store network must facilitate application uptime and business continuity. The inability to process a customer’s credit card transaction because the network goes down is simply unacceptable in modern business.
The network also must be secure enough to protect confidential business and customer information. No one wants to headline the news because of a security breach. Yet, according to a 2018 study of U.S. retailers, 75% of them experienced a breach compared to just 52% the previous year. Lastly, being able to monitor network health and manage updates through a single pane of glass makes it much easier to deliver the type of enhanced customer experiences that will differentiate your brand.
A Customer-First Digital Transformation
As the level of retail competition continues to rise, your best shot at success is to:
- Identify the right technologies to accelerate your digital transformation
- Evaluate third-party offerings to see whether they can give your brand a boost
- Make sure you have a flexible network to quickly deploy revenue-generating apps and services as new trends emerge
- Take a customer-first approach to ensure that you deliver a unique and compelling customer experience
Embracing a comprehensive digital transformation strategy that helps you monetize your store will undoubtedly keep your business successful in both the short term and the long run.