Myth: Our products are predominantly sold in stores, so a digital transformation isn’t worth the investment. How a digital transformation can drive brick and mortar businesses to success.

If you are a company that doesn’t typically sell its products online, you may be asking yourselves how a digital transformation can help you drive your business. You may look at digital transformation as a costly and unnecessary commitment, incorrectly believing that the investment of time and resources needed to pull off a digital transformation is too high.

We have a simple answer for you.

In a word, it’s customers. Your customers are the core of everything you do and their continued satisfaction is the key to your future. You need to approach your business with your customers’ point of view in mind. And from a customer perspective, there is no substitute to having a both a physical and digital presence in the marketplace. Consider it a first-line and essential weapon in your arsenal as you win over new customers and engage your loyal customers in meaningful and innovative ways over time. But it’s not enough.

Do you know what is the single most important thing your (prospective and current) customers want to find as they interact with your brand? They are looking for an omnichannel shopping experience, where the offline and online touch points with your brand fit together seamlessly. Your job as a company is to align your strategy, operations, value chain, how you engage with your customer, and the overall structure of your organization to meet their needs in an omnichannel world.[1]

Today’s customers make purchase decisions through a variety of channels – they are looking to incorporate information from individual, digital and physical (brick and mortar) touch points. Take, for example, the purchase of a new car, considered to be a major purchase for most households. It’s easy to see how digital plays into the purchase decision. We would expect potential customers to research cars online as they gather information about brands, attributes, and dealerships. But does anyone actually buy a new car without seeing it in person or test driving it? In this case, online research leads to a dealership visit and ultimately to an individual salesperson. It’s fairly easy to appreciate how important digital, offline, and dealership touch points are in the purchase of a new car and how these touch points intertwine and overlap in a purchase decision as the customer interacts with a specific automobile brand.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from automobiles, there are many low-priced products typically sold in stores rather than online simply because shipping costs are prohibitive with respect to the cost of the goods. Think about shampoo and other personal care products. Even though customers most often purchase these products in specialty, grocery or drug stores, a brand’s digital presence is just as essential. Customers are likely to incorporate a mix of information on the product, its branding, price point, and consumer reviews found digitally into their purchase decision. In this sense, online customer reviews and the like take on a much larger role in the purchase decision than even word of mouth reviews pre-internet. It is emblematic of how, rather than merely receiving marketing messages pushed outward onto them, savvy customers are now seeking to pull relevant information from digital sources, even if the final purchase is most frequently made in stores.

After initial purchase is completed, digital technologies really shine in their ability to help you build customer loyalty and, ultimately, lead to repeat purchases over time. Brand loyalty is attained by capturing not just your customers’ wallets, but also their hearts, resulting in their commitment to your brand and product. You want customers to have an overwhelmingly positive pre- and post-sale experience when interacting with your brand – no matter what the channel. Digital tools and platforms not only help you accomplish this, they also help you measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your global efforts, both in store and online. Digital technology allows you as the retailer to engage directly with your customers in a variety of ways, making sure that your customer’s needs and wants are met regardless of where they are in the customer journey.

 

McKinsey’s Customer Decision Journey: A Circular Journey

[2]A digital transformation will empower you to live up to your customers’ high expectations and exceed them. It’s not just about websites or even purchasing online versus buying in stores. It’s all about the fact that your customer is making buying decisions differently. And as the customer interacts with your brand across channels, you’ll want to harness digital technology to learn more than ever before about your customers, track their shopping habits, and improve their shopping experience. This insight will invariably lead to better, more targeted, and more strategic communications as you lead the customer through her journey, reaching out to the customer at the right moment, triggering her impulse to buy. Digital tools and platforms will enable you to measure your impact and effectiveness, both on and offline, and guide your interactions with customers each step of the way. It is no longer enough merely to have a digital presence, customer-centric companies who want to succeed in today’s market must deliver a seamless physical and digital presence.

[1] https://hbr.org/ideacast/2018/08/understanding-digital-strategy

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-consumer-decision-journey

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