Last updated: Demystifying the digital transformation

Demystifying the digital transformation


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Digital transformation shouldn’t give you the willies. At its core it’s a simple question of redefining what’s important to your business. It’s crucial to focus on that rather than use it as an excuse to latch on to a specific digital movement. The simple result of following trends rather than needs is you make a rod for your own back, with digital for the look of the thing rather than for ROI. It comes down to strategy not technology, and whatever you choose, you need to check under the hood regularly.

To my mind this is one of the most useful effects that digital transformation has. Done right, it should make people think and talk about the dynamics of their business – its building blocks and its moving parts – such as customer centricity. You might ask why I stress this, when surely the customer is always at the heart of everything. But the simple truth is that for far too many businesses, somewhere along the way, in the rush to modernize the business the customer got left behind.

You can see this in the UK in the way the big out-of-town supermarkets have evolved. The “pile it high and sell it cheap” mentality of the Big Four has ripped the heart and soul out of the sector. If everyone competes on the same thing (in the UK it’s branded grocery prices) and offers the same deals (usually something along the lines of “we’ll refund the difference if your branded groceries are cheaper elsewhere”), then there’s no differentiation between the big players. And when Lidl and Aldi entered the fray with super-low prices they took no prisoners because there was no expectation.

When I was young lad all the different sweet shops had nicknames. My mates and I would jump on our bikes and spend our pocket money at the brown sweet shop, the yellow sweety shop, the one by the river, the one with the dog. They all sold basically the same thing, but we went to them for very different reasons. One was the only place you could get two Mojos for a ha’penny (or mixed Blackjacks and Fruit Salad); another had the rarest Panini football cards (Espana 82 album!); another gave you 8p back for each Barr’s bottle you could find (which we’d ‘salvage’ from building sites and stash at our base); or a serious 10p mixer and the best comics. And the shop owners knew our faces – or at least pretended to.

Whether they knew it or not, each of them was running a perfectly customer-centric enterprise. They each of them had basically everything we could dream of ever wanting (standing on tiptoes and peering at those jars of sweets remains the benchmark for my ideal retail experience). And each of them stood out, really clearly, for different, positive reasons that made them a destination.

The scale of the comparison is way off, but the lesson is the same. Loyalty in retail is – has always been – one of those “moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips” things. You can spend years building it up, and lose it in a single visit. Customer-centricity is about focus – and being alive to the fact that you might need to change along with your customer. Keep checking in with them and making sure that you at least know who they are and why they want you. If you can’t compete, don’t. Pick a different battleground – and make sure that you stand out for the right reasons.

Personalization: It’s not magic.
It’s method.
Find out who does it best HERE

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