Mehtab Shabir, Client Success Manager at GRM Digital, explains why digital transformation is so important in today’s climate.
“It’s a competitive world, everything counts in large amounts.” Depeche Mode first sang these words back in 1983, and they’re truer now than ever.
Business competition has certainly never been this fierce. But it’s no longer just about the abundance of products and brands to compete with. Now, the principal challenge is a strong online presence.
The rise of eCommerce has pushed brick and mortar into the background. As a result, the world of business and commerce has turned into a survival of the digitally fittest.
Digital transformation – the crux of business survival
So, why are businesses experiencing a digital transformation? Seventy per cent of companies who engage in it claim they do so because it generates competitive advantage.
Quality products and decent customer service simply don’t suffice anymore. Customers now expect businesses to provide products and services in the quickest and most convenient way. At the same time, businesses have to deliver an impeccable user experience and be at customers’ disposal across all channels. And with the inevitable technological advancement, demands can only increase.
COVID-19 as the catalyst
Digital transformation as a business strategy certainly did not start with COVID-19. Many businesses had recognised the benefits of digital transformation and begun steadily moving in that direction long before the pandemic. However, COVID-19 sped up the entire process, practically forcing businesses to adapt overnight.
The pandemic has profoundly impacted the retail environment. One example is fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) going D2C (Direct-to-Consumer) more swiftly in order to compete online. With lockdowns in place, physical stores were forced to launch eCommerce platforms in the blink of an eye to survive. Membership organisations had no choice but to replace face-to-face networking with webinars and the like.
Furthermore, businesses had to learn how to function with fewer employees and communicate with their customers more efficiently. In fact, a survey by McKinsey shows respondents are three times likelier now to say that at least 80 per cent of their customer interactions are digital.
Consumer behaviour also transformed immensely during the past year. According to a UK-specific study, online shopping jumped from 43 to 62 per cent during lockdown. The same study revealed that 66 per cent of consumers stated their purchasing behaviour had changed for good.
Surrounded by multiple channels 24/7, consumers became accustomed to constant content consumption. Their already high expectations escalated under the pressure and frustration of a global pandemic.
In the course of one year, almost every part of life was reshaped. Be it commerce, education, leisure, remote working or any other aspect, we are now largely dependent on digital tools. Ultimately, for businesses this means a tougher job of staying afloat because there are more demands than ever to be met.
Business benefits of digital transformation
Taking into account the challenges businesses faced in the past year, digital transformation is a no-brainer. There are plenty of long-term benefits to reap from it, the greatest one being an improved customer experience.
A good digital transformation strategy can enhance CX in multiple ways. For one, you can engage potential customers by delivering relevant omnichannel content. Also, customers will appreciate not having to go further than their doorstep to receive your products. In these trying times when safety is a major concern, receiving goods in a fast and secure way is pivotal.
Digital strategies also entail successful content personalisation. Because customers are front and centre now, personalised content matters a great deal. Besides, digital transformation helps you future-proof your business. You can keep up with changes in consumer needs and, by extension, technological innovations.
The better the customer experience, the stronger your competitive edge. The proof is certainly in the numbers. Digital transformation with a focus on the customer can generate economic gains of 20 to 50 per cent and a 20 to 30 per cent increase in customer satisfaction.
Aside from an up-to-par CX, there are internal benefits, such as increased productivity and more efficient business processes. What’s more, 84 per cent of CEOs interviewed by Harvard Business Review claim digital transformation brings them new business opportunities. So, if you’ve been looking for a power-up for your business, going digital is clearly it.
The time for digital transformation is now
We’ve seen how life can change completely in an instant, and it’s unknown what the future holds. But one thing is still for certain – technology will only keep growing. At this point, a strong digital presence is what’s going to make or break your business.
To illustrate the jeopardy of a limited digital presence and lack of eCommerce wing, we can look at Primark. In May 2020, it was reported that the company saw their sales plummet to zero. They were simply unprepared for the massive shift towards digital channels that swept the world.
Let’s look at some more stats indicating that it’s virtually now or never to start digital transformation efforts. First, 90% per cent of businesses surveyed by Software AG predict customer expectations will increase in 2021. Second, 87 per cent of consumers expect online retailers to be better prepared in case of another lockdown. And finally, if 77 per cent of CIOs have made digital transformation their 2021 priority, why wouldn’t you?
No matter what, a strong digital presence plays a key role in staying ahead. The COVID-19 pandemic only made that much clearer. Even in a post-COVID world, businesses will still have to adapt constantly.
In the cutthroat world of business and commerce, going digital is a matter of survival. So, if you want to make it, get on that digital transformation initiative right now!