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Digital Transformation

This article was first featured in Commerce Insights – for more fresh and interesting insights click here.

A business wishing to build seamless customer journeys would be wise to acknowledge that any customer can exhibit multiple different mind states at any given moment, and that they have a prerogative to switch from one mind state to another in a flash depending on their particular shopping mission. The question is, how can you target that customer? And how can you come to understand how best to serve these mind states, as well as the triggers that migrate between them?

Popular trends in shopping behaviour

Google’s ZMOT study found that the average number of sources used for a purchase had doubled in a year, from 5.2 to 10.4 sources. No doubt you’ll have heard the customer journey buzzwords ‘showrooming’ (the behaviour of viewing in-store and then buying online) and ‘webrooming’ or ‘ROPO’ (this stands for research online, purchase offline; it’s easier to remember and sounds less like ). A third behaviour seems to have been overlooked, though; your customers may be displaying a combination of the two behaviours in various sequences, for example researching online, touching and feeling in-store and then returning online to make their purchase. Entries for an acronym on a postcard please …

How they apply to your business

Customer journey mapping frameworks are a good starting point and are useful in understanding the points at which your customer interacts with your business, online and offline. They help you to focus efforts and budgets on collecting data around the visits, purchases and behaviours of your customers during each of these interactions. Customers’ needs and processes throughout each stage of a visit are identified and recorded. Technology exists for analysing that data, so you can identify the categories of shopper that exist for your business.

Some good examples in the retail sector of a true omnichannel offering are well on our radars, with brands such as Amazon, Burberry and Argos leading the way. It is easy to attribute the success of these brands to their significant budgets, but in reality one of the biggest challenges for retailers is in transforming their businesses to be more digital and customer-focused. In larger businesses, channels are treated as if they were separate initiatives, budgets and business units. This situation illustrates that digital strategy is still often led by the way businesses organise their departments and budgets rather than by how consumers are likely to come in contact with a brand digitally, and it is here that smaller businesses have the advantage to grow with more speed and agility.

Be where your customers are – physically and emotionally

According to McKinsey, by 2016 the web will influence more than half of all retail transactions, and therefore it is clear that customers are seeing much less of a distinction between online and offline when it comes to purchasing. As businesses we must recognise that while we may not have as much control over the journey as we once did, we do have control over every channel and the relationships that exist between them. The experience each location, channel and point in time should be consistent and designed with intent and purpose.

Technology and new devices are proliferating, and marketing to things will prove to be insatiable and expensive, so stay focused on the people and their motivations beyond the screens and shop windows. Consumers have a desire to experience authenticity with their encounters with brands; try to avoid the shiny temptation to market at things instead of needs, behaviours, intentions and desires.