Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

Digital transformation is as much about the journey as it is about the destination

By James Brooke, CEO at Amplience

The world constantly changes so preparing for change is not just an ongoing requirement, but one that retailers must master to remain relevant. Digital transformation, while meaning different things to different people, embodies much of the change that we are currently seeing. But what are the different elements that define digital transformation for the ecommerce industry today?

Search engines

To make sure customers discover a brand’s website, ideally through an organic click-through from a search engine that doesn’t have to be paid for, retailer’s need to follow the rules set out by Google and other search engines. They can’t control search engine algorithms but developing positive influence and mitigating anything negative is part of their digital transformation journey.

Some rules on website ranking are understood, such as domain and page authority, backlinks from trusted sources, crawlability, sitemaps and metadata, but the weightings and how the algorithms relate to each other to create search results is a dark art, one known by Google. Managing the constantly changing algorithms is a daunting task.

Core Web Vitals, introduced by Google in June, is an example of this type of change. It is a layer of measurement that aims to put the human experience first, and retailers that follow good user experience practices and understand Core Web Vitals will be rewarded with higher performance on search engine results pages.

Digital natives

Anyone under the age of 14 has only known a world with smartphones. They are digital natives or Generation Z and their attention span is just eight seconds, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau. Gen Z demand consistent digital experiences across all channels and expect their preferred channel – mobile – to be a first-class, personalised experience.

Marketplaces 

Amazon has created a powerful shopping marketplace that attracts big and small brands alike. Participating brands might lose control over the end user experience and of their customer data, but they can make money whilst learning about how customers respond to their products.

For those that are using marketplaces as a stepping-stone, time should be spent on brand differentiation. Tone and language must be used to build instant rapport with consumers, so that when they are ready to go direct, they will know and love them. Going direct from the start means having enough brand differentiation to ensure a distinguished shopping experience that persuades audiences to return. They should be bold with distinct brand differentiation. 

Social disruption & social influence 

From Facebook ads to Instagram influencers, social media has become a central pillar of commerce campaigns to drive traffic.

Social browsers research products before buying and depend on influencer recommendations. An Adweek Consult survey has found 49% of TikTok users have purchased something after seeing it advertised, promoted or reviewed on the app.

Social will become more influential and presents opportunities and challenges for retailers’ businesses – mainly by being present and able to consistently react to trending opportunities.

IoT

The mere fact that so many devices are ‘interconnected’ as well as embedded into our daily routines takes customer convenience to new levels. It’s not just about Amazon, Google and Apple devices, any company that provides physical goods and hardware can innovate to make devices smart. One example is Traeger Grills, a US headquartered company that specialises in BBQ grills. They recently launched the ‘WiFire Connected Grill’ where they send recipes and instructions directly to any consumers’ device.

The power combination 

Combining IoT with the power of 5G offers retailers the potential to provide brand new experiences. The combination creates opportunities for synergy between the bricks-and-mortar, mobile and online experiences as handovers become seamless and managed completely by the brand.

Augmented reality and virtual reality experiences can add to this in-store, and can be replicated in a similar fashion online, but only after the individual has experienced them instore. These potential experiences arm brands with ‘reasons for the consumer to return’ to physical shops as well as engaging in apps or online; and all working towards increasing the rate of repeat purchase.

With all these technological opportunities retailers need a metaphorical compass to chart their journey. What is clear, however, is that when it comes to digital transformation the journey is every bit as important as the destination and at the summit retail leaders will have a clear view of how they can set new milestones and targets that clarify the goals for the entire business.

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