For those still speculating about whether bricks-and-mortar retailers might eventually win out in the UK economy, the results are in: probably not. At least, not without an online equivalent in tow.
SaleCycle recently released their 2017 Ecommerce report which reveals that, last year alone, global ecommerce sales grew by an enormous 16%. Although Amazon still account for 40% of that revenue, the remainder is still a pretty penny for other online businesses.
While shoppers continue to flock to the internet to spend money, businesses have no choice but to add ecommerce to their repertoire or risk being left behind. But in an increasingly competitive online market, how can businesses move from having a middle-of-the-road online presence to becoming ecommerce leaders?
It seems that the real secret to success lies in the implementation of an effective intelligence platform that can help guide businesses – and their IT teams – through the digital transformation process.
For businesses that haven’t succeeded in digitally transforming their operations, they typically have one thing in common – they view technology and applications as individual tools which need to be implemented rather than as part of an overarching ecosystem. As a result, many business’ IT teams will continue to have their applications sprawled across their entire internal network and their data stored in disconnected pockets in much the same way (where little meaning can be derived from the numbers).
As such, the success of any transformation project, whether it involves disrupting business models or not, should depend on that organisation’s ability to create a connected business: a business which brings together people, processes and technology investments, at scale.
As companies attempt to achieve the status of the connected business, they must firstly ensure all systems and apps – whether on premise or in the cloud – are communicating with each other, as well as sharing activity, accurate data, and enabling the right investments. This is where digital intelligence platforms come in – allowing developers, ops and technical teams to measure and monitor the performance of their applications simultaneously and successfully.
Knowledge is power
For smaller retailers, especially, investing in an effective digital intelligence platform early on in the digital transformation process will lead to greater visibility into relevant data sets which, then, can be effectively used to calculate their return on investment and help them to then make smarter decisions as their online presence begins to grow. This is invaluable when investing vast amounts of money in your company’s digital presence.
By implementing a digital intelligence platform, firms are able to monitor whether their digital transformation is successful through real-time metrics which then enable them to address issues early, as well as understand cloud infrastructure and how it might best be leveraged for their success.
The customer is always right
One major challenge in retail – whether on or offline – is customer service and keeping customers coming back again and again. If businesses are monitoring their staff’s customer service skills in store, the same should be happening for their website online – does the customer have everything they need? Do they know where to go for a particular item? How and where do they pay? These are all questions that retail customers need the answer to wherever they are, and digital intelligence platforms allow businesses to provide that same level of customer care – and therefore customer loyalty in future – online.
For instance, via an external platform, a business is able to track performance issues on their site which can be identified and addressed in real-time, thus minimising the chances of a customer becoming frustrated with a website which has broken links and choosing not to return again.
Similarly, through relevant metrics businesses can monitor how long it takes for a customer to make a purchase and whether this time is too long and needs to be addressed. For instance, is the website difficult to navigate for new customers, and, if yes, are they leaving behind their purchases because they don’t want to have to fill in so many details. In the same way you would hire more staff if this was the case in store, you can decide to change the buying process on the website and monitor how a reduction in buying time may or may not lead to a surge in profits.
Digital intelligence platforms, and monitoring your website’s metrics through them, are key to an effective digital transformation process which – if executed properly – could see the savviest retailers taking advantage of the demand for online sales and become the newest ecommerce giant.