Digital maturity in the retail sector
The retail sector has always been highly competitive but now evolving consumer demands and digital disruption are putting retailers under relentless pressure to stay one step ahead. With digital marketing in a constant state of flux, and considering the four foundational areas for digital maturity , what is the direct impact on the retail industry?
There are vast differences between retailers that were born digital and those that started out as bricks-and-mortar stores then added digital as a go-to-market channel. These bricks-and-mortar brands are experiencing three main obstacles to digital maturity: smaller digital teams; inadequate budgets dedicated for digital development; and poorly defined digital strategies and processes.
Highlighting this gap, market research firm Forrester released “The Best and Worst of Australian Retail Website Experiences” in 2015 in which it reported key bricks-and-mortar retailers such as Coles, Woolworths, Myer and David Jones all failed Forrester’s user experience test – while most born-digital retailers would probably pass with flying colours.
Bricks-and-mortar stores have the additional challenge of bridging the digital and physical divide, as digital enhances the physical store in the form of digital screens, BLE light fixtures and contactless payment facilities, to name a few.
Econsultancy’s 2016 report “Digital Transformation in the Retail Sector”, reveals that optimising the customer experience is the most exciting opportunity for retailers. The report analyses the percentage of companies by sector that have adopted a holistic approach to testing and optimisation, allowing multiple departments input into the process. The leader was the B2B high-tech sector at 44%, followed by retail and commerce at 35%. The takeaway here is that the B2C sector typically leads in early technology adoption and therefore maturity. In this case, retail has something to learn from B2B hi-tech in both adoption and testing.
Turning to each of the four key pillars for digital maturity, here are the challenges retailers face in achieving digital maturity:
• Centralise your data to accelerate insights and for ease of accessibility.
• Integrate external and offline data to enhance your audience segments.
Big bricks-and-mortar retailers have can struggle to centralise their data, mostly due to the disparate systems used to run their operations, including point-of-sale, transactional, CRM, supply chain, fulfilment and call centre.
Adobe is increasing out-of-the-box integrations to a broad range of technology vendors to alleviate the pain of pulling data to develop actionable insights. Centralising data greatly accelerates a company’s ability to build and personalise richer audience segments. It also enables accessing partner data and buying external data to enrich segments.
• Develop content with the customer’s needs in mind.
• Work to develop a rich customer profile.
Retail is a leading industry category for testing, but it has a long way to go in developing teams and processes to deliver more content at scale. Developing a rich customer profile goes hand-in-hand with enriching audience segments and should be a strategic priority with a clearly outlined, long-term plan.
• Make mobile a priority by investing in mobile channels and applications.
• Create dedicated mobile sites and apps.
Traditional retailers have largely ignored mobile in favour of developing a web presence – and have generally done a poor job of it. As smartphones are the primary devices for 92% of consumers, retailers need to invest in mobile channels and applications to ensure their sites and apps are developed from the ground up with a mobile-first mindset.
• Integrate your systems and channels to share data as well as content and assets.
• Invest in tools to understand your customer’s journey.
Traditional retailers commonly run a campaign in one channel and something completely different in another, largely due to their disparate systems – disconnected teams are delivering a fragmented customer experience. By investing in tools to understand customer data and the customer journey across both digital channels and bricks-and-mortar stores, retailers can deploy cross-channel content and assets that deliver a consistent customer experience.
Customers like clear and simple tasks. Retailers need to enable a seamless customer experience so consumers can make the correct purchase for their needs. I invite you to download the 2016 Adobe report, Four essential elements for digital marketing maturity and read the results in more detail.
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