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3 questions to consider for your digital commerce initiative

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I believe many of us know you cannot ignore digital commerce and still be relevant and survive for long. But the question remains: What does an organization need to do to succeed with their digital commerce initiative beyond putting up a pretty web storefront and selling the same old set of products?

As an observer of this, as well as a consumer, I believe succeeding boils down to answering three questions about your digital experience:

  • What are the improvements that your digital commerce brings?
  • Is the experience highly differentiated?
  • Does it go beyond digital?

Let me elaborate.

What are the improvements that your digital commerce brings?

The first question is really about why the change is needed, and what’s in it for your customers. Many organizations sometimes forget that the primary reason for any digital transformation is really for the customers. Some of the criteria to check are:

  • Is the new digital channel easier and more convenience for the customers?
  • Is it faster, in term of finding and getting products using the new digital channels?
  • Does it provide more value to the customers than before? (Value can be defined as any benefits customer receive for their effort and spending.)
  • Is it solving some known problems that your customers have such as access, product availability, product information, or assistance?

Answering these questions will help you focus on impactful changes that yield results. They help you prioritize how to invest your resources and achieve early successes.

Is the experience highly differentiated?

The second question drill into what makes your digital commerce differentiated and engaging vis-à-vis your competition.  One of the attributes of digital commerce is price transparency. So, to be successful, you have to move beyond price as your primary differentiation. And that sustainable differentiation is the experience.

This differentiation is beyond what I discussed earlier about making your digital commerce better. The differentiated experience needs to be something special, something that only you can deliver and that is difficult to imitate.

This could be how you personalize the storefront and the way your customer finds and sees your products. Or it can even be the value you provided to them based on the information they have shared with you. For example, if you keep track of clothing and accessories a customer has bought and then use that information to offer suggestions or advice about what new items might go well with them, that would be an experience that is valuable and sticky.

Does your experience go beyond digital?

With the third question, I raise the point that digital commerce should not be implemented in isolation. It needs to be deployed in the context of the larger vision, that of delivering better customer experience. Unless your organization is a digital native, chances are you have existing physical channels that your customers have been using. So, your digital commerce should complement these existing channels. In a recently published research by Ecommerce Foundation, they find that globally, majority of customers still like to visit and buy in stores.

This is true across many categories such as consumer electronics, computers, sport and outdoor equipment, health and beauty, clothing and footwear, jewelry and watches, home appliances, DIY home improvement, furniture and homeware, and grocery.

The only two categories in which digital is more or have the same preferences are digital content like books, music, video games, and toys.

And stores are not the only channels: Don’t forget your contact centers, your resellers and distributors, and even your sales reps. They need to be part of the equation. Integrate your digital commerce with your physical ones to offer a complete experience, one that cannot be replicated easily by your competition, whether they are the age-old competitor or the new digital natives.

Going digital can be challenging and complex. To be successful, you need to focus on the reason for undertaking this journey. That reason is the customer. If you really understand them and know them, then you can find the answers to those three questions above. Answering them honestly will give you the insights to be successful with your digital initiative.

To learn more about the digital customer, watch our recent webinar.

Hansen Lieu
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December 12, 2018
Hansen Lieu

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