Think about the last time you made a big purchase. Did you consult online sources to determine what product would be best, to compare prices, or to get reviews?
If you did, you are similar to 63% of consumers who start their shopping journey online. And that means that people are also looking for information about your business online.
Changes in consumer behaviour are forcing businesses to have an online presence. If you don’t, you risk losing customers and valuable revenue to competitors who are online. Most organisations can't afford to lose out to digital competition, so what should you do?
The answer is simple: Embrace digital transformation.
What Is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is the process of incorporating technology into various areas of an organisation so that business operations, processes, and customer experiences improve. For example: Banks create apps for customers to do mobile transactions, and educational institutions provide online courses and virtual lessons.
When a business adopts digital transformation, they develop a culture of innovation whereby everyone in the organisation welcomes new technologies that address changing market needs. It is an ongoing process that encourages collaboration between departments resulting in a more integrated business model.
Why Digital Transformation Is Valuable
Digital transformation is important for every business because it helps organisations to move with the times, makes it easier to meet the needs of customers, and allows organisations to leverage emerging technologies.
Improve Efficiency and Productivity
Digital transformation can help you to automate tasks that are currently done manually which frees up employees to focus on more strategic work that drives growth. For example, you could use a chatbot to answer customer questions or generate sales reports using software programs..
Another way digital transformation can improve business efficiency is to streamline processes. Here’s an example: You could use a CRM platform like HubSpot to automatically capture lead information from social media adverts, and push this information to the relevant team member so that they can convert the lead into a paying customer. Afterwards, the customer’s details remain in the system for follow-up sales and service.
Communication between employees, customers, and partners is also possible with digital tools. By creating digital communication channels, stakeholders can interact more easily with each other which may lead to work being done faster. For instance, you could use a video conferencing platform to hold meetings with remote employees or a social media platform to connect with customers.
Enhance Customer Experience
Digital transformation can help you to personalise interactions with customers by using data to understand their needs and preferences. This is very important since customers are expecting a lot more personalisation these days rather than having a generic interaction. For example, you could use an email platform like Klaviyo to send personalised product suggestions to a customer based on their past purchases.
When your business uses digital tools such as online chats, a knowledge base, or how-to videos, customers may feel that it’s easy to do business with you. You could, for instance, create a customer support portal that has a section to answer frequently asked questions or a mobile app where customers can log in to place an order or track their package.
Increase Agility and Innovation
Faster decision-making is a benefit of digital transformation because you have access to real-time data and analytics. Imagine, for example, that you want to understand the previous year’s sales to create a new promotion; you can check your CRM for historic sales data and identify trends to determine the best products to put on sale.
Digital transformation can also empower your team members to be more innovative by giving them access to the tools and resources they need. Many times, your team members will already have an idea about what parts of their jobs can be made better with technology so ask them what they think can work. When you do this, you encourage a culture of innovation which could propel your business forward.
Expand Market Reach
As you use more digital tools, you may find it easier to expand your market reach because it’s possible to sell and market products and services to customers around the world. For example, you could use a translation tool to translate your website into multiple languages, or incorporate a global payments platform into your website to accept payments from customers in different countries.
Digital transformation can also help you to target new markets by analysing data to identify potential customers and then tailoring marketing messages to their needs. For instance, you could realise that your product is being used in a different way by another customer group, so you can adjust your messaging to explain this new use in the hopes of getting more customers to purchase your product.
It’s also easier to reach new customers by using digital channels, such as social media, online advertising, and mobile apps. If you know your target market well, then you can use the right digital tools to communicate with them. For example, you might realise that influencers are promoting your product on a different social media platform than the ones you usually use. To capture this new audience, you can post more on this new platform and even use paid ads to get your content to potential leads.
Create a Competitive Advantage
Digital transformation can help you stand out from the competition by using technology to offer unique products, services, or experiences. For example, you could use a virtual reality (VR) platform to give customers a virtual tour of your products or services, or you could offer a chatbot to provide customer service 24/7.
Personalisation has already been identified as a benefit of using digital tools because it can increase customer satisfaction by providing better customer service, more customised experiences, and easier ways to do business. For example, you could use a CRM system to track customer interactions and use that data to improve customer service. When you do so, you are differentiating yourself from the competition and creating a competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation Strategy
Getting your business ready for digital transformation and implementing different tools and technologies is a strategic decision, so it only makes sense that you should create a comprehensive strategy. There are many ways to transform digitally, but generally, there are some basic steps you can follow.
Consider Pain Points
The first step in the digital transformation strategy is to identify needs and set goals. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current operations, technologies, and customer experiences. Look for areas where digitisation can bring the most significant improvements, such as supply chain management, inventory control, customer service, or marketing.
It could be something as simple as automating email flows after a customer makes a purchase or something more complex like segmenting customers based on their purchase history and other data collected about them.
It’s also possible that you want digital tools to improve several business challenges in one go. For example, your sales manager might want to know how many units of a specific product were sold while upper management wants to know the total revenue for the month. Some tools can address both of these challenges at once, but you have to define your needs before deciding on the next steps.
Once you have identified your business’ needs, it's important to set clear and measurable goals for your digital transformation strategy. The goals should align with your overall business objectives and address the identified pain points.
For instance, you may aim to reduce order processing time by 30%, increase website conversion rates by 20%, or improve customer satisfaction scores by 15%. Digital tools can help you with this, but you need to create goals first to help you measure results later on.
Implementing a digital transformation strategy requires resources, including financial, technological, and human resources. Evaluate your existing infrastructure and determine what additional resources are needed to achieve your transformation goals. It may require investing in new technologies, upgrading existing systems, or hiring and training employees with the required digital skills.
With some digital tools, you have the option of getting a free demo or a free trial for a limited amount of time to see if the solution is right for you. Consider using these options to determine if digitisation is the right fit for a specific need.
Get Buy-In From Stakeholders
Digital transformation is a significant undertaking that impacts multiple aspects of your ecommerce business. It's crucial to get buy-in from all relevant stakeholders, including executives, managers, and employees. Even customers need to be on board with the changes because it may affect their interactions with your business.
Clearly communicate the benefits and potential outcomes of the transformation strategy, and address any concerns or resistance stakeholders may have. Engage stakeholders in the decision-making process and ensure their active participation throughout the implementation. Let them know how the changes will happen and who people can talk to if they are uncertain about anything.
To create a successful digital transformation strategy, it's essential to understand your competitors and how they are using digital tools. Additionally, you need to understand industry standards and best practices.
Conduct market research, analyse competitor data, and monitor industry trends to gain insights into emerging technologies, preferred tools, and competitors' strategies. This information will help you make informed decisions and align your transformation efforts with market demands.
Set a Budget
Digital transformation initiatives can incur significant costs, so it's important to set a realistic budget for your strategy. Consider the investments required for technology upgrades, software development, employee training, and any external consulting or outsourcing services. Allocate resources strategically based on the priority of each initiative and ensure a balance between short-term expenses and long-term benefits.
Implement the Plan
Once you have a well-defined strategy and secured the necessary resources, it's time to put your plan into action. Break down the transformation process into smaller, manageable projects and establish a clear timeline for each one.
Assign responsibilities to the relevant teams or individuals and regularly monitor progress. Foster a culture of agility and adaptability to respond to unexpected challenges and make necessary adjustments along the way.
Make time to reflect on how tools are being utilised and whether they are creating the improvements as expected. If they aren’t, determine why this is the case and what must be done to rectify the problem.
Tools to Make the Process Easier
Many businesses struggle with digital transformation because there are so many different options available for every need. Let’s look at a few areas where you can implement digital technologies (including recommendations!).
Instant messaging platforms can greatly assist in your digital transformation journey. Technologies like Slack and Intercom allow for real-time and collaborative communication which increases the sharing of information between people in different locations.
Team members can send messages and share files for immediate collaboration rather than having a meeting or exchanging several emails. Customers can also send you messages with concerns or to ask questions and get immediate answers; that’s added value for them.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Software, such as HubSpot, SalesForce, and Zoho, can be useful to capture all the details about your customers, push sales, keep track of leads and sales, and market your business. CRM software can be a single place where you can centralise all your customer interactions so that you can easily get a snapshot of what’s happening. Most CRMs can integrate with your other software which makes it easier than ever to keep track of everything.
The internet and digital technologies have made it easier to communicate with people than ever before. One of the ways to do so is through video chat. Online meetings have become the norm for companies who operate remotely — team members can have meetings when necessary, and you could even interact with customers through virtual meetings.
Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing platforms. It is free to use if you only have a few people attending the meeting, which makes it one of the most affordable digital transformation tools available.
In any business, you need to keep on top of what is happening, which projects team members are working on, and if there are any hiccups along the way. Project management tools, like Monday, create a place for all team members to collaborate and know how projects are progressing while also giving individuals dedicated task lists with deadlines.
The order fulfilment process is another place where your business can make use of digital transformation. Customers who constantly know what is happening with their order, from the time they place it until it is delivered, tend to be more satisfied and can become loyal supporters of your business.
Platforms like Wonderment can assist you with this process, and many have features that will let your team and the customer know if there are any delays so that you can communicate proactively with the relevant parties.
With digital transformation, there are some concerns. One of the main ones is data security since most digital technologies will collect, store, and analyse information in some way. It’s your responsibility to keep the data of your business and all its stakeholders safe. For this reason, you need to consider API security.
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. APIs are used to exchange data between different systems and applications. They are a critical part of modern software development, and they are increasingly being used in digital transformation initiatives.
API security is important because APIs can be a valuable target for attackers who can exploit vulnerabilities in APIs to gain access to sensitive data, such as customer or financial information. API security can help to protect your business from cyberattacks by implementing appropriate security measures.
By implementing appropriate security measures, you can help to protect your APIs from attack and prevent attackers from gaining access to your sensitive data. Here are some ways to do that:
- Use strong authentication and authorisation mechanisms to ensure that only authorised users can access your APIs.
- Encrypt all data that is exchanged over APIs to protect sensitive data from being intercepted by attackers.
- Use API gateways to protect your APIs from attack by providing a layer of security between your APIs and the public internet.
- Monitor your APIs for suspicious activity to identify and respond to attacks quickly.
- Keep your APIs up to date since software vendors often release security updates for their APIs.
- Use a security testing tool to identify and fix security vulnerabilities in your APIs.
- Educate your developers about API security to be aware of the associated security risks and how to mitigate them.
Tips for Digital Transformation
Finally, we want to share a few tips that can make digital transformation easier for your business.
- Start small and scale up: Don't try to do too much at once. Start by implementing a few small changes and then scale up your efforts as you see success.
- Be flexible and adaptable: The digital landscape is constantly changing, so you need to be able to adapt your strategy as needed.
- Measure your results: It's important to track your progress and measure the results of your digital transformation efforts. This will help you identify what's working and what's not.
- Get professional help: If you feel overwhelmed by digital transformation, consider getting assistance from experts. They can help you to identify potential areas for improvement and suggest suitable tools.
Digital transformation can be a complex and challenging process, but it can also be a very rewarding one. Start prioritising digitisation today and create a roadmap for your business to embrace the ever-changing digital world to experience unprecedented growth!
Digital transformation is essential for the growth of every business.
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