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GUEST COMMENT Winning the new age consumer: elevating the consumer journey into the digital era

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Businesses must embrace new technologies to leverage the consumer journey within the digital era if they are to keep pace with changing consumer habits. We’ve seen that digital transformation has already dramatically changed the way businesses and consumers interact with one another, for example, businesses interacting with consumers on social media and being able to quickly respond to comments on a business’ website.

 

The explosion of online e-commerce has created an array of exciting opportunities for businesses to capitalise on, and a report by Statista found that global retail e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.8 trillion by 2021, meaning its potential is being fully recognised.


The consumers of today are very different to the consumers of 20 years ago, as technology has created a demand for immediacy from businesses. We’re now in a situation where every business has gone digital to some degree, so businesses should look to embrace changing consumer habits and proactively shape them with innovative solutions rather than waiting for them to become the industry standard.


The importance of winning the new age consumer


Within the digital era, consumers make more informed decisions and enhance their buying experience through research, reviews and ease of use. If a consumer has a bad experience or reads a negative review, they will most likely go to a competitor. This change in the way customers think and operate means it’s important to win the trust of consumers straight away, as ultimately e-commerce gives the consumer a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing where to shop.


Businesses must also remember that in order to win the new-age customer, convenience is everything. Consumers have very high expectations from e-commerce sites because they have become accustomed to seamless shopping experiences online, requiring minimal to no effort. The enhancement of technology has played a crucial role in this development, but those businesses who have created these fantastic experiences manage to retain consumers, generating repeat business and brand loyalty.


Shaping enterprise IT strategies to deliver growth


An effective IT strategy is important when it comes to delivering growth, and it can all start by using robust tech platform which can streamline entire online ecosystems, right from taking orders, to making the delivery at the customer’s doorstep. Having suitable technology in place will ensure consumers remain happy by offering a well-run shopping experience. Businesses also need to be able to operate at the speed of digital, whilst responding quickly and easily to changing market conditions and customer preferences or competitor activity.


Online businesses should also consider adopting a D2C (direct-to-consumer) approach when it comes to strategy. Technology facilitates D2C strategy through applications and analytical tools that engage customers in a better and user-friendly manner. Businesses who are inclined to opt towards a customer-centric model will benefit from being able to build relationships with their customers by getting to know their shopping habits more closely. This is the epitome of winning new customers in the digital era, as once these relationships are established, businesses can ensure they do everything they can to keep them. However, brands who wish to enter the D2C arena must be prepared to offer a seamless shopping experience, or risk missing out to competitors.


The idea of a digital-focused future and how to shift your business focus


Nobody knows for sure what the future is going to entail, but the impact digital transformation has already had on society means businesses should be prepared for a digitally focused future. The retail industry, for example, has had to overcome this challenge. Consumers who were once used to going out of their way to a local high street to buy products have now reaped the benefits of retailers shifting their approach to cater for a digitally focussed alternative.

 

Most retailers see the benefits of operating an online e-commerce platform, however, it’s not always the simplest of processes as just by launching an e-commerce site doesn’t mean a retailer is done and dusted.


It can be tempting for retailers to focus on investing in front-end experiences which serve as the first point of contact with customers, like marketing or website design. While businesses understand that the overall e-commerce platform is important, one of the key mistakes is the failure to embrace digital transformation to enhance their back-end operations strategy. While the benefits are never as glamorous as front-end solutions, too often, retailers don’t see the benefits of prioritising their back-end processes and are therefore at enormous risk. Back-end technology is essential to operations, as if the technology which manages processing cannot keep up with an influx of orders, the consequences would potentially be huge, both in terms of finance and damager to brand reputation. Addressing and prioritising these back-end logistics is a great example of how businesses can prepare for a digitally focussed future.


Elevating the consumer journey


In order for businesses to stay ahead of competitors, they must ensure they’re doing everything they can to give their consumers a great experience. Consumer habits are ever changing, and businesses need to think innovatively to stay one step ahead. One way in which some businesses have done this is through finding new customers, before they find them, via targeted promotions. Recognising the dependence on smartphones and social media for product information, businesses are able to target consumers they think are interested in their products. This elevates the consumer journey because they are receiving personalised offers from businesses, as it is encouraging consumers to choose their business without even initially realizing they wanted or needed a particular product.


But what consumers can’t see are the processes and technology that creates this magic. New IT initiatives are creating connective, interactive customer experiences, both in terms of marketing and through order processing online. But all that matters to consumers is having easy access to promotions and a better relationship with the brands they prefer. Organisations must transform their core to become intelligent with logistics, while innovating for a digital future.


To stay on top and ahead of the competition, businesses need to constantly innovate and offer exciting ways for customer engagement. Innovation and the right technology are key to success when it comes to elevating the customer journey.

 

Author: Anshuman Singh, Vice President of Digital Business, Mindtree Europe
Image credit: Fotolia

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