The retail industry has undergone significant changes in recent years, with the rise of digital technologies and the increasing demand for seamless, personalized customer experiences. Digital touchpoints, such as online stores, mobile apps, and social media platforms, have become critical components of the customer journey, enabling retailers to engage with customers at every stage of the buying process. In this article, we will explore how digital touchpoints are changing the customer experience in retail, and the benefits they offer both customers and retailers.
Digital touchpoints have made shopping more convenient than ever before. Online shopping has become increasingly popular, with customers being able to purchase products from anywhere, at any time. This is particularly relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where many consumers have shifted their shopping habits to online channels. According to a study by McKinsey, "Online shopping has seen a surge in demand, with retailers experiencing unprecedented levels of online orders."
Digital touchpoints enable retailers to personalize the shopping experience for customers. By tracking customer behavior and preferences, retailers can provide tailored recommendations and promotions that are more likely to resonate with customers. According to a report by Accenture, "Personalization is key to delivering a superior customer experience, with customers demanding more personalized interactions across all channels."
Digital touchpoints provide retailers with the opportunity to engage with customers in new and meaningful ways. Social media platforms, for example, enable retailers to create interactive content that encourages customer participation and engagement. This engagement can lead to increased brand loyalty and advocacy, as customers feel a stronger connection to the brand. According to a study by Forrester, "Engaged customers are more loyal, spend more, and are more likely to recommend a brand to others."
Speed & Efficiency
Digital touchpoints have also enabled retailers to improve the speed and efficiency of the shopping experience. Self-checkout systems, for example, allow customers to complete transactions quickly and easily, while mobile apps can provide real-time updates on product availability and store locations. According to a report by PwC, "Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to shop, with mobile commerce sales expected to reach $3.56 trillion by 2021."
Digital touchpoints have enabled retailers to integrate the online and offline shopping experiences, providing a seamless experience for customers. For example, customers can purchase products online and pick them up in-store, or they can browse products in-store and purchase them online. This integration enables customers to shop in a way that is most convenient for them, while also providing retailers with additional opportunities to engage with customers. According to a report by Deloitte, "Retailers that integrate the online and offline shopping experiences are better positioned to meet the needs of today's consumers."
Challenges of Implementing Digital Touchpoints
While the implementation of digital touchpoints in the retail industry provides numerous benefits, there are also several challenges that retailers face in adopting these technologies. Some of the key challenges include:
1. Integration with Legacy Systems: Many retailers still use legacy systems that are not designed to integrate with newer digital technologies. This can make it difficult to implement new digital touchpoints and may require significant investment in new technology infrastructure.
2. Data Management: Digital touchpoints generate large volumes of customer data that must be managed effectively to be useful. Retailers must have the necessary data management infrastructure in place to collect, store, and analyze this data.
3. Privacy and Security: The use of digital touchpoints also raises concerns around privacy and security. Retailers must ensure that they are collecting and storing customer data in compliance with relevant regulations, and that customer data is protected from unauthorized access or breaches.
4. Training and Education: The adoption of new digital touchpoints often requires training and education for both employees and customers. Retailers must invest in training programs to ensure that employees are able to use new technologies effectively, and that customers are comfortable using these technologies to complete transactions.
5. Customer Adoption: Finally, retailers must also consider the extent to which customers are willing to adopt new digital touchpoints. Customers may be resistant to using new technologies or may prefer traditional shopping experiences. Retailers must be strategic in their implementation of new technologies to ensure that they meet the needs and preferences of their customers.
Addressing these challenges requires careful planning and investment in new technology infrastructure, training and education programs, and customer engagement strategies. However, the benefits of implementing digital touchpoints can be significant, including increased customer engagement, improved operational efficiency, and enhanced data-driven insights into customer behavior and preferences.
Keys to Transformation Success of Digital Touchpoints
As a retailer going through digital transformation and looking to enable digital touchpoints throughout the customer experience, here are several keys to success to keep in mind:
1. Define Clear Objectives: Before embarking on any digital transformation program, it’s important to define clear and codified objectives for what you hope to achieve. This may include improving customer engagement, increasing sales, reducing costs, or other business objectives. By defining clear objectives, you can ensure that your digital touchpoints ladder up to your overall business strategy and that you are measuring success effectively.
2. Identify Customer Needs: To be successful with digital touchpoints, you must understand the needs and preferences of your customers. This may involve conducting direct customer research, analyzing customer data, and testing new touchpoints with customers to gather feedback. It’s critical to ensure that this feedback is gleaned from the customers themselves, and not done by some executive or leader by proxy. By truly understanding customer needs, wants, and pain points you can design touchpoints that are relevant and useful, and that enhance the overall customer experience.
3. Align Business Processes: Implementing digital touchpoints will almost definitely require changes to existing business processes. Business processes that were developed to support offline touchpoints, won’t scale, nor fit with this new digital world. It’s important to align business processes with digital touchpoints to ensure that they are seamless and integrated. This may require rethinking how you interact with customers, training employees on new processes, investing in new technology infrastructure, and last but certainly not least breaking down organizational silos as part of a reimagined operating model to take advantage of a modern business paradigm.
4. Prioritize User Experience: The user experience is critical to the success of digital touchpoints. You must design touchpoints that are intuitive, easy to use, and that provide a seamless experience across channels. This may require investment in user experience design, testing and optimization, and ongoing monitoring of user feedback. These new capabilities, ideologies, and ways of working are the key to focusing an organization on what matters most, its customers and placing them at the center of everything they do.
5. Emphasize Data Management: Digital touchpoints generate large volumes of customer data. It is important to invest in data management infrastructure to collect, store, and analyze this data effectively. This may involve implementing data governance processes, investing in data analytics tools, training employees on data management best practices, implementing a data ethics practice, and leveraging the latest advancements in AI / ML such as ChatGPT.
6. Foster a Culture of Innovation: Finally, successful digital transformation requires a culture of innovation. You must encourage employees to think creatively, experiment with new technologies, and be open to new ideas. This may involve investing in employee training and development, creating cross-functional teams to drive innovation, and celebrating successes and failures along the way.
By following these keys to success, you can ensure that your digital touchpoints are aligned with your business objectives, meet the needs of your customers, and provide a seamless and engaging experience across channels.
Overcoming Resistance Barriers
Educate on the Benefits
Many retailers may be hesitant to invest in digital capabilities due to a lack of understanding of the benefits or prior failures. It’s important to educate stakeholders on the potential benefits, such as improved customer engagement, increased sales, and operational efficiency. This may involve conducting research on the ROI of digital investments or providing case studies of successful digital transformations in the industry.
Create a Business Case
To make a compelling case for digital investment, it is important to create a business case that clearly articulates the costs, benefits, and ROI of digital capabilities. This may involve working with stakeholders to identify specific business objectives and creating a roadmap for how digital capabilities can help achieve those objectives.
To assist with that business case, here are the top 10 key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor, measure, and manage from a business performance perspective in retail:
1. Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of website or app visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. A higher conversion rate indicates that your digital touchpoints are effective at driving customer engagement and sales.
2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This measures the cost of acquiring a new customer, including marketing and advertising expenses. A lower CAC indicates that your digital touchpoints are effective at attracting new customers at a lower cost.
3. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This measures the total value of a customer over their lifetime of doing business with you. A higher CLV indicates that your digital touchpoints are effective at driving customer loyalty and repeat business.
4. Average Order Value (AOV): This measures the average value of each purchase made by a customer. A higher AOV indicates that your digital touchpoints are effective at driving larger and more valuable purchases.
5. Cart Abandonment Rate: This measures the percentage of customers who abandon their shopping cart before completing a purchase. A lower cart abandonment rate indicates that your digital touchpoints are effective at reducing friction in the purchase process and driving conversions.
6. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score: This measures customer satisfaction with their experience interacting with your digital touchpoints, such as website or app usability, customer service, and overall experience. A higher CSAT score indicates that your digital touchpoints are effective at providing a positive customer experience.
7. Net Promoter Score (NPS): This measures the likelihood that customers will recommend your brand to others. A higher NPS indicates that your digital touchpoints are effective at driving customer advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing.
8. Return on Investment (ROI): This measures the return on investment for your digital touchpoint investments, including the costs associated with development, implementation, and ongoing maintenance. A higher ROI indicates that your digital touchpoints are generating a positive return on investment.
9. Traffic: This measures the volume of traffic to your digital touchpoints, such as website or app visitors. A higher traffic volume indicates that your digital touchpoints are effective at driving customer awareness and engagement.
10. Time on Site/App: This measures the amount of time customers spend on your website or app. A higher time on site/app indicates that your digital touchpoints are engaging and providing value to customers.
Implementing digital capabilities can be overwhelming, especially for retailers who may have limited experience in this area. Starting small, with a pilot project or a specific digital touchpoint, can help demonstrate the potential benefits of digital investments and build momentum for larger initiatives.
Collaborate Across Departments
Digital transformation requires collaboration across departments, from IT and marketing to operations and customer service. By involving stakeholders from across the organization in the planning and execution of digital initiatives, retailers can ensure that everyone is aligned on objectives, and that there is a shared vision for digital transformation.
Benchmark Against Competitors
Finally, it is important to benchmark against competitors and industry best practices to understand where your organization stands in terms of digital capabilities. This may involve conducting a gap analysis or attending industry conferences to stay up to date on the latest trends and innovations.
Digital touchpoints have transformed the retail industry, changing the way customers interact with brands and retailers. The personalization, convenience, improved product information, streamlined checkout process, seamless in-store experience, and increased engagement associated with digital touchpoints have created a more efficient, personalized, and convenient shopping experience for customers. As digital touchpoints continue to evolve, retailers must continue to invest in new technology to remain competitive and meet customer expectations.
- McKinsey & Company. (2020). COVID-19: Implications for business. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/covid-19-implications-for-business
- Accenture. (2018). The Future of Retail: From Personalized to Individualized. Retrieved from https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/strategy/future-retail-personalized-individualized