Last updated: Think digital transformation doesn’t matter? Your customers beg to differ

Think digital transformation doesn’t matter? Your customers beg to differ


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IDC predicts one third of the top 20 in every industry will be disrupted by digitally transformed competitors by 2018.

Why does digital transformation matter? And how can businesses stay one step ahead of competitors?

It’s all about engaging customers through more consistent experiences. But what does creating a great customer experience actually mean?

For many companies, customer engagement is still a nice-to-have capability, but we’re seeing customer experience leaders phenomenally outperform the index, so there’s actually significant value in getting it right. After all, it affects the share price and value of your company.

Digital transformation is no small feat – and there are plenty of things to consider when going about a digital transformation within an enterprise. 

Power to the people
Purchasing Power, one of the fastest growing specialty e-tailers in the United States understands the importance of getting the customer experience and digital transformation right. The company offers consumer products, vacations and online education services through an easy and convenient payment plan. Purchasing Power’s clients – around 260 strong – are large companies who offer their program as a benefit to employees.

Based on how long the employee has been working for the particular company and their base salary, a “spending limit” is established.

“They can use that spending limit to transact with us, buying over 45,000 different products with us,” said Prakash Muthukrishnan, CIO, Purchasing Power (pictured below). “That’s why everything we do at Purchasing Power, whether launch a project, set a policy or introduce new technology, it is centered around our customers.”

The typical Purchasing Power customer is a mom, with two kids who earns $35,000 annually. If a washer/dryer breaks down, she doesn’t have a credit card to buy a new one from, say, Nor does she have money saved up to buy a replacement at a store. Clearly, this mom’s options are sub-optimal. Rent-a-Center? Try to secure a loan at the bank?

“Our program is financially better because it is opportunity given to her by her employer,” said Prakash. “So we are extremely conscious of our customer – who she is and what she wants from us.” 

Delivering relevant content

The average Purchasing Power order is a big ticket item, generally $1,000. This means providing the right amount of product data to customers is critical. To that end, many different product guides are available on the Purchasing Power web site that steer customers toward a more informed purchase.

“The last thing we want is to have our customer jump to a third party web site, take a look at what is going on, then come back to us and transact,” said Prakash. “We want the customer to stay in our web site, have all the right information at her fingertips so she can complete the transaction.”

Oftentimes, Purchasing Power customers enter the company’s web site through their desktops at work. At home, she might be using her mobile phone or other device.

“We want to make sure she’s having a consistent experience with us whether it’s through her desktop, tablet or mobile phone,” said Prakash, who led an effort to optimize the Purchasing Power web site two years ago. “Our web site is now responsive. If a customer comes to us through a mobile device or desktop they will have the same content and the same experience.”

At your (self) service

A mobile app was also created whereby customers can easily take a picture of their pay stubs and submit with their orders.

“The mobile app is a compliment to the web site,” said Prakash who said over 50% of traffic now comes from mobile devices, with approximately 40% of revenue generated via mobile. “This is a great achievement, not just for the company, but for our customers as well because it is easy. There is no friction when you are transacting with us.”

Making it easy to discover new products and provide more self-serve capabilities like returning items helped Purchasing Power’s Net Promoter score rise 20% over the past two years.

This attention to customer detail has paid dividends and transformed Purchasing Power’s business – more reasons to focus on digital transformation:

  1. Nearly 20% of revenue came through the call center just 3 years ago, today, it’s less than 10%.
  2. Call center is only open 5 days per week as more activity moves to self-serve
  3. Customer satisfaction continues to rise per the Net Promoter score

Making it happen from a tech perspective: SAP digital transformation benefits

  • In 2013, Purchasing Power launched SAP Hybris Commerce.
  • In 2014, Purchasing power launched SAP Hybris v 4.8
  • This year, Purchasing Power launched SAP Hybris v 5.7 “without any hiccups and meeting all the company KPI’s. Everything was fantastic,” said Prakash
  • In a few months, Purchasing Power plans to implement SAP Hybris Cloud for Service and SAP Hybris Marketing

“This is the next phase of our journey; to make our customers transact with us seamlessly and have a very uniform experience,” said Prakash. “Customers don’t look at you as mobile, call center, and web. They look at you as one company and you have to provide one customer experience.”

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