According to the Statisca Research Department, worldwide e-commerce sales have amounted to 3.53 trillion US dollars in the year of 2019, and the e-retail revenue is projected to double in size by the end of 2022.
Clearly, this multi-trillion dollar industry has shown significant growth and change in the past years, by ever-changing consumer demands and behaviour towards the world of digital.
With Covid-19 taking a hit and cities going under lockdown this year, it’s pretty safe to say that the only way for businesses to survive and connect with their customers this point forward is by going digital.
What is Digital Transformation?
In this day and age, digital transformation is nothing short of crucial for all businesses, from the smallest of startups to the largest of corporations.
The process will undeniably look different for varying types and natures of business, but in general, it is defined as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, resulting in fundamental changes to how a business operates and how it delivers value to customers.
For e-commerce specifically, digital transformation is the only way forward. This involves transforming various areas including customer relationships and web presence.
Having defined such a broad endeavor, what are some of the steps an e-commerce business can take to ensure a successful digital transformation?
Step 1: Identify Your Transformation Goals
Dashing towards digital transformation would be meaningless without any solid goals in terms of profits and outcomes. The first few things to set aside before commencing your transformation should be (1) problem statements to tackle, (2) clear opportunities to seize, and (3) goals to achieve.
Throughout the past years, it hasn’t been difficult to see startups grow to later become major disruptors in their industries. This goes to show: the Goliaths don’t always beat the Davids — it’s less a matter of big versus small and more a matter of fast versus slow.
Everybody wants fast, especially these days. We expect and demand fast responses, fast deliveries, and fast checkouts. With these boxes checked, it’s easy to see good customer acquisition and retention rates, which are very important metrics for any company that seeks steady growth.
With observations like that in mind, how can you begin redesigning your business model in a way that brings you closer to your goals? The process consists of three corporate layers:
• Business Strategy
Defining business targets and corporate objectives.
• Corporate Execution
Achieving business objectives through execution.
• Enabling Technologies
Easing business execution through tech solutions.
When you get to the third layer, there are a number of tech solutions that can help ease business execution and give your users the fast, instant service they deserve. This includes AI and Machine Learning, Business Process Automation, Internet of Things and Sensors, CRM, Chatbots, APIs, Big Data Analytics and even digital channels like social media. And these are only the tip of the digital transformation iceberg.
Solutions like these can help you identify and realign your transformation goals as well as bring you closer to them. Here are some example goals to help you get started:
• Improve end user experience to increase productivity and customer retention.
• Reduce operational costs and differentiate services.
• Gain insight and control over digital assets.
• Improve infrastructure and operations for cost effectiveness and flexibility.
• Maximize analytics to gain insights for improving business performance and competitive advantage.
Step 2: Manage Your Customer Experience
When it comes to e-commerce, Net Promoter Score is one of the essential metrics to measure customer satisfaction and their willingness to recommend a brand to others. It is strongly related to customer experience, also known as CX.
Making a consistent impact throughout the lifecycle of your customers and your brand is an ongoing effort. The quality of your products is not the only important factor in your CX strategy — you should pay equal attention to other facets of your business like customer service, social engagement, post-purchase services, getting reviews, and establishing a community.
How do you take control of all that?
There are ready-to-use customer experience management (CEM) tools out there that can help you integrate personalization tools, content management systems, recommendation tools, customer data platforms, A/B testing tools and such quality capabilities into your business.
Zendesk, a customer relationship management tool that is easy to implement and provides a faster way to scale your business, is one good example.
An alternative is to opt for custom-made CEM software from an IT agency. In order for bigger e-commerce companies to stay on top, a more focused software is often needed to tackle various problems simultaneously.
These more complex software solutions can also optimize productivity and opportunities without the irrelevant features that you’d get with off-the-shelf software getting in the way.
Step 3: Be Open to the Next Big Things
The topic of digital transformation is incomplete without the new generation of tech, which includes AI integration, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Cybersecurity and Virtual/Augmented Reality.
Each of these new technologies brings something new to the future of e-commerce, and is definitely bringing forth major shifts as they become increasingly accessible to the masses. Being aware of what they’re capable of helps dampen the confusion when big changes begin happening around your business when the time comes.
To put it simply, AI makes life easier for both business owners and their customers. One example of AI integration is visual search engines that allow users to search for items that are similar to an image they upload, within seconds. This gets users to their goals way quicker than a regular keyword search does.
AI is also what enables platforms to provide personalized recommendations by tracking users’ clicks, searches, general behaviour. Human beings no longer have to manually track data and make a million decisions for a million users, thanks to AI.
By being skilled ushers to users and doing the bulk of the data work for us, AI in lead generation and sales for e-commerce businesses is shortening the process and increasing results tenfold. The future of e-commerce is only going to get “faster” by the day.
Machine Learning, the application of the wider tech area of artificial intelligence, is used for automating business processes. It creates algorithms or programs that can access and learn from data without having to be programmed by a human.
Some of its functions in e-commerce businesses include detecting risks and threats, increasing conversions, running more relevant marketing campaigns, improving in-house operational efficiencies, and establishing informed decisions.
Some good examples of Machine Learning would be in Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s search engine ranking. Cloud providers such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM provide the bulk of today’s Machine Learning services, but this is expected to become increasingly accessible with time.
Internet of Things (IoT)
It is getting more and more common for e-commerce businesses to adopt the Internet of Things in a bid to improve the experience of their consumers across the world.
IoT offers retailers more control over order processes with better tracking and logistics that enable them to locate their goods regardless of where they are. This ultimately helps them better meet the demands of their customers. With tools like IoT sensors and RFID tags installed in inventory systems, business operations can assume control over their stock with real time updates.
Today, cybersecurity solutions are the most important tech to consider for e-commerce companies. It is the foundation of success in the digital world to protect consumers, employees, and the business itself. By making data privacy a priority, businesses can secure users’ trust and convert customers into brand advocates.
Being part of Machine Learning, a cyber threat intelligence solution can tackle issues that are difficult for security operations teams that are burdened with an overwhelming number of alerts on the daily. By automating data collection and processing, and integrating with existing solutions, such a solution can help e-commerce businesses improve on security by automatically prioritizing and filtering alerts and other threats.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
According to Retail Dive, more than 55% of consumers visit stores before buying online, emphasizing the idea that high-touch physical and seamless omnichannel experiences are critical for modern retailing. But what will happen to e-commerce businesses without brick and mortar stores?
Think virtual reality.
(VR) that allows you to see whatever you may think of in a virtual showroom. Companies are beginning to invest in tech that enables customers to dive into virtual wardrobes with real-world experience of product, colour, and measurement.
E-commerce businesses are also approaching augmented reality (AR) that allows their customers to virtually try out apparel with their phone cameras. This allows for a whole new level of interaction between products and customers, and will only get increasingly common by the day.
Next Step for You
Traditional brick and mortar stores are seeing lower returns today, and this will likely continue. In this new normal, people are more connected over the internet than ever. New e-commerce businesses are emerging and opening their doors through mobile apps and websites.
If you’re thinking of going digital with your business, Snappymob is here to help. Our team has given clients from startups to big corporations a boost into digital transformation. Talk to us — you could be next!