The basic definition of digital transformation is using digital technologies to create innovations that disrupt existing industries or create new ones. This process is unavoidable; no industry is protected from its effects. But when it comes to retail, there are facets of the industry that cannot be entirely digitized. The fit and feel of clothing and other products, as well as shipping the physical product to the consumer are aspects of the consumer journey that cannot be replaced. However, these pieces of the retail puzzle are becoming increasingly digital. Here’s how modern retailers can manage digital transformation:
- Embrace it. We already know digital transformation is unavoidable, so instead of fighting it, embrace it and take advantage of the changes for your own business. Are there currently technologies that your brand is not making use of that could perhaps benefit your bottom line? Optimizing your site for mobile, including ratings and reviews on your site, engaging with consumers on social media, or utilizing artificial intelligence or buy online pickup in store functionalities–all of these play a role in digital transformation, and can ultimately improve your customer experience.
- Plan for the future. One indisputable aspect of digital transformation is the speed at which it is happening. Technology and customer preferences are changing so rapidly, it is difficult for retailers to plan too far ahead. Take advantage of this trend and plan for future uncertainty. Partner with forward-thinking technology vendors, constantly update your consumer research, and streamline your operations to be as agile as possible. This will ensure you are as prepared as you can be for whatever transformation the future brings.
- Focus on the customer. The customer always comes first. That is a core tenet of any successful retail business. By focusing on the optimal customer experience, retailers avoid being disrupted by digital transformation. No matter how much technology changes, one thing is sure- for your business to be successful, customers need to want to buy your products. Pay attention to what your customers want through social listening, monitoring reviews on your site, and gathering feedback from your customer service team and/or store associates. Then use this data to inform your business decisions.
Digital transformation can be an intimidating concept, but have no fear. With proper change management and a digital-focused strategy, retailers can avoid being disrupted.