Digital Transformation is not a buzzword anymore; it’s the evolution of how businesses are conducted in the digital age. It is believed that this is the most innovative phase for enterprises to scale their businesses successfully without having a brick-and-mortar store. However, there are various disparities in customer expectations with digitalization, and companies are finding ingenious ways to engage with customers.
Consumers’ expectations are at an all-time high, and the upsurge in demand is currently driving the buying frenzy. Today’s tech-savvy consumers would prefer ordering over e-commerce stores to doing retail shopping. After a relatively lower sales period in 2020 due to the pandemic and stress, consumers and funds are now back to the pre-Covid era.
Going Digital in our Daily Lives
From small businesses to large, every business needs to undergo digital transformation to gain a competitive edge and to sustain itself in the long run. Digitalization aids in integrating technology in all aspects of business that helps improve productivity and deliver business value to customers.
According to Statista, the global spending on digital transformation is estimated to be 2.4 trillion USD. Simply put, every time you replace a physical process with a digital strategy, you engage in a digital transformation. When you decide not to cross a cheque for your mortgage payment and instead do an Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), you become part of digital transformation or Digital Commerce with one simple click!
Factors Driving Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is now an essential ingredient to stay in business. B2B and B2C companies now compete against each other in the online world. The whole competition is now taken over using MarTech firms that deliver outcome-based results while keeping consumer behavior and data insights in mind.
With most social media channels enabling e-commerce marketing strategies today, you can not only post online ads for your business but can also directly interact with customers and prospective clients.
Here’s why you need to embrace digital transformation to evolve into an “e-business” or e-commerce store if you haven’t:
Rising Customer Expectations
The rise in adoption rates of new and next-gen technologies like cloud computing, machine learning, AI-based algorithms, Robotics, and IoT (Internet of Things) devices have increased customer expectations.
The role of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is still underutilized by businesses today. Its diversified capabilities serve as an excellent opportunity to enhance customer experience by bringing the “store to the customer”.
A survey by iXtenso magazine found that virtual reality was important for 22% of its respondents during brand shopping as customers are now empowered with value-added unique shopping experiences. For example: expecting virtual experience while trying fashion apparel and accessories.
Strong Online presence for Brands
Brands need to have an online presence as it helps attract more customers and generates user engagements. Furthermore, the brand is capable of creating customer awareness and strengthening its credibility.
According to Salesforce.com, about 87% of shoppers seek product information and helpful reviews online — even if their final purchase plan is through a retail store. Consumers expect to find a brand’s updated information, including contact information, seamlessly while approaching them.
It furthermore found that e-commerce sites get 75% new search queries monthly and that 69% of customers expect new products irrespective of shopping online or at a retail store. This strongly emphasizes the need for brands to “keep it fresh” and ensure a seamless shopping experience for users while enhancing customer relations.
Rise of DTC (Direct to Consumer) selling
The direct-to-consumer selling strategy has exploded during the Covid times and changed the view of doing business. Today, enterprises can talk to their customers directly rather than through a third-party channel or platform.
In another survey by iXtenso magazine, more than 55% of shoppers want to buy directly from brand manufacturers.
OEMs that have progressed towards omnichannel marketing to deliver a seamless experience across devices make more sales. Companies who go with DTC control their customers’ experiences from start to finish, giving them the tremendous power to improve consumer satisfaction. Customer feedback, rating, and advocacy define your market dynamics on the ground since many first-time consumers watch for the feedback before adding to their shopping cart on your online store.
Digital Commerce Sales Accelerators
Technology advancement and inventions are fueling digital commerce the most. Certain innovations clubbed with customer behavior, and experience has ensured considerable jumps in sales figures for brands that went ahead with these accelerators.
- Today, big data has a significant role in enhancing personalization, storing massive sets of native data in a data lake for creating insights to predict consumer apprehensions. Large ecommerce brands like Amazon have used big data to provide consumers with highly personalized shopping experiences. Selling Alexa and other IoT/AI devices at a lower price opened up a stream of personified data collection for Amazon.
- Headless and API-driven ecommerce solutions are allowing continued innovation at a much faster pace one could imagine. You order at dinner and get the item delivered before lunch the next day; how quick and seamless the integration has become.
Tools and Platforms for Digital Transformation in Ecommerce
There has been an upsurge in companies offering tools and platforms to support and drive digital commerce. Few of these are categorized as FinTech startups with a SaaS whose product offerings are imbibed with seamless integration of various payment methods for a consumer.
Smartphones are a great tool to help users buy anything now. From AR-supported software that emerged as game-changers to enable seamless buying of furniture and clothing online or to order your favorite Cappuccino from Starbucks, digital transformation has made lives easier.
Recent data gathered by Statista predicts that in 2021, nearly 73% of ecommerce transactions will take place on mobile devices. Consumers mostly have a choice that if you don’t offer a fluid experience, they’ll simply shop elsewhere.
Digital transformation is a continuous process where you won’t be saying, “Alright, we can’t go beyond this.” It is an ongoing journey, and you will need to build many partners both on the supplier and consumer sides.
Digital commerce is where brands have bet enormous and reaped huge benefits from an online presence in terms of consumer sentiments, market share, and driving profitability while keeping the operational costs to the minimum. Ecommerce has been a clear winner way before the pandemic began. Economists predict retail ecommerce sales to reach 476.5 billion dollars by 2024, up from 279.7 billion dollars in 2017 for the US market alone.
There is still a plethora of opportunities available in the digital scope. Businesses’ capabilities are accelerated, and it is anticipated that they shall reap significant rewards by attracting investors, thereby changing the face of digital commerce in the coming years.
Ixtenso, RetailDive, Statista
Gaurav is the Practice head for Enterprise Solutions at IGT and also the SME of Retail, CPG and Ecommerce verticals.