Technology has accelerated every part of the buying cycle, from one-click purchases to auto-refresh inventory.

This kind of digital transformation has changed the way consumers shop and encouraged retailers — both big and small — to keep up or lose out.

For brands and retailers that understand the basics, building a strategy for digital transformation is the next step in ensuring long-term success in the world of commerce.

Why Digital Transformation Is Essential For Brands

The future of commerce is bright, but it’s also heavily reliant on technology. Projects that once took weeks to complete now take a matter of hours or even minutes. Everything moves much faster, and consumers have come to expect answers, information, and results in the blink of an eye.

Digital transformation allows retailers to enhance the customer experience, innovate quicker, and gather granular customer insights that are crucial to understanding consumer behavior. Embracing these changes and implementing a successful digital transformation strategy will keep your brand competitive and relevant in an incredibly fast-paced market.

According to Zippia, global spending on digital transformation is set to reach $6.8 trillion by 2023, with important benefits including increased operational efficiency (40%), faster time-to-market (36%), and help meeting customer expectations (35%).

Contrary to popular belief, digital transformation isn’t just switching from brick-and-mortar to an ecommerce model. It’s so much more than creating a website and an online presence.

For example, digital transformation can:

  • Serve personalized product recommendations and relevant upsells to increase average order value; 
  • Automate supply chain management and automatically update your site when a product is out of stock; and  
  • Reduce friction in the checkout process to enhance the customer experience.

Checklist: ​​3 Essential Steps for Embracing Digital Transformation

Download our digital transformation checklist to get quick, step-by-step guidance on how to manage change at your organization. 

DOWNLOAD CHECKLIST

The Challenges Of Digital Transformation

While digital transformation is a no-brainer, it does come with its own set of challenges. There will be growing pains and kinks to iron out, just like any other process. Here are some challenges you might face when moving forward. 

Initial Inertia

Staff can feel displaced if they think technology will replace them. It’s important that you address any inertia and communicate openly with all team members. 

Lack of Digital Savvy

Not everyone is technologically minded, and it can be a huge learning curve trying to figure out how different types of technology work. 

Mismatched Processes

Why fix what isn’t broken, right? However, lots of brands or retailers might find their old, clunky processes aren’t a match for innovation, which can be an uphill battle in the early stages of digital transformation.

All of these challenges can be tackled head-on with an appropriate digital transformation strategy.

Building a Digital Transformation Strategy: 5 Essential Steps

1. Establish Your Goals

First things first, you have to know what you want to achieve with digital transformation. Understanding your end goal will help you map out how you’re going to get there and what kind of technology you’ll need to implement.

Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, and time-based so that they’re easy to track. For example, instead of “prioritize the customer experience,” try “improve customer satisfaction score by X% in February,” or instead of “optimize the website,” try “an X% increase in conversions by quarter three.”

2. Get Buy-In From Leadership

This can be the tricky part, especially if leadership is used to a certain way of working. However, most organizations know they need to reinvent their processes to keep up, so this isn’t as difficult as it sounds. 

One simple way of doing this is by suggesting a small but strategic first step. For example, choose a low-target goal that you can make happen in a couple of months to prove return-on-investment (ROI).

This might be a short welcome email sequence or an automated abandoned cart campaign that brings back shoppers who left items in their carts. 

Not only will this back up your case, but it’ll also provide a trial run of a digital transformation project so you can see how it works and what you can do better next time.

3. Create a Timeline

With leadership on board, it’s time to build a project timeline. This is where you’ll outline when you want to achieve your goal and the steps in between that will get you there.

At this point, you should also think about who you want to work on the project and what each of their respective tasks will be. Remember to plan realistic deadlines and highlight what each part of the process will entail.

For example, if your goal is to personalize the customer journey to increase customer lifetime value, one task might be researching data analytics tools that can track user behavior.

4. Implement Tools for Digital Transformation

Instead of trying to change everything at once, implement one tool at a time (or a series of tools if they work together in tandem). This will keep overwhelm at bay and help you see which tools are working best in isolation.

At this point, you should keep a close eye on the tools you’re using, get regular feedback about them from your team, and consistently monitor their success against your overall goals.

Here are some tools for digital transformation that can be a game-changer in commerce.

Customer Relationship Management Tools (CRM)

Keep an organized file of your customers, their purchases, and other critical data points you can use to create unique shopping experiences.

Email Marketing Tools

Send automated emails at various touch points to keep shoppers engaged. 

Payment Solutions

Provide shoppers with the chance to check out in their preferred way with their preferred payment methods. 

Inventory Management Tools

Automatically update your website with stock levels and re-order products that are close to being sold out. 

Data Analytics Tools

Track consumer behavior across your site and collect essential insights about your best shoppers.

Product Experience Management (PXM)

A PXM solution helps teams manage, syndicate, and optimize shopping experiences at scale, providing a number of essential tools like product syndication, product information management (PIM), enhanced content, digital shelf insights, order and inventory management, and more.

It helps ensure that every experience a customer has with a product is engaging to support them along the buying journey.

5. Develop Understanding and Embrace Change

Digital transformation only works well if everyone is on board, but according to FreshDesk, 21% of companies say organizational culture is an obstacle to digital transformation.

You might find you need to foster a culture shift in your organization when you start incorporating technology into previously manual processes. It’s important that you provide training for team members and offer support so that they can stay up-to-date on technology updates. 

Get Started With a Strategy for Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a must for commerce brands that want to stay ahead of the game and beat the competition. 

Finding and implementing the right tools for digital transformation can dramatically improve the customer experience and create slick buyer journeys that keep shoppers coming back for more.

Posted by Contributor