In the world of e-commerce, online shopping, IOT and artificial intelligence, the B2B sector is slowly starting to pick up on the innovations B2C companies apply to their online presence. Lately I’ve been deep diving in what it means to define and create a digital strategy and what it would mean in respect to driving an improved customer experience throughout the journey. But before we go in to what a digital strategy is, let’s first start with what it’s not.
WHAT ISN’T A DIGITAL STRATEGY?
The Marketing Strategy is often confused with the Digital strategy. We often misinterpret a social media strategy with a digital strategy. Which in fact it’s not. A digital strategy focusses on finding new digital revenue streams. Marketing thus should be aligned to the newly defined digital strategy. Giving Marketing teams the lead in the digital strategy, is thus not really the best way forward as we are seeking new way’s to impact our bottom line.
Another misinterpretation is that going digital replaces your overall business strategy. The digital strategy and in accordance defined Digital Business Plan, can make part of your overall strategy to growth. A Digital strategy should be seen as a new channel, which can replace parts of the traditional channels, but moreover should be seen as a new channel of opportunity.
SO WHAT IS A DIGITAL STRATEGY?
A digital strategy is the outcome you want to deprive out of your online, mobile and web capabilities. This strategy differs from an IT strategy, however it has vast links in respect to infrastructural design and requirements. It’s different from your online marketing strategy, which focusses on presence and attraction of existing and new customers through brand awareness and online motivation, but of course the link is their as your digital strategy enables them to online actively engage and buy your services , products or solutions. A digital strategy which in most retail companies enables a move to a more profitable business model, in the business to business segment we are still quite behind our consumer experience focussed entrepreneurs,
WHY SHOULD YOU LOOK IN TO A DIGITAL STRATEGY?
In 2016 the average E-Commerce sales in the US was app. 11.7% of the average turnover of companies (Source: Marketingland) Expectation that this number will increase extensively in 2017. Globally the numbers will differ, but let’s look at a 11.7% new growth channel which compliments your traditional channels. There are not many companies achieving an 11.7 % growth. Investigating this often requires you to think innovative on the Why (11.7%), then reinventing your online digital approach and being innovative when you do this. It’s important that in every new business channel, you create a measurable business plan, but not see this as a direct replacement for your existing channels.
ALIGN THE IMPACT TO THE ORGANISATION, BEFORE LAUNCHING….
As mentioned before a digital strategy is not a marketing strategy, but whilst defining what this means, you will need to have your marketing team define focus on the online and digital experience. Furthermore using an online channel e.g. applying e-commerce, can and most certainly will impact your IT, Operations and Service strategy. A good market analysis is key to understand the market you will approach, and a good analysis of the operations and services capabilities are key when adding the online channels. Bringing your digital strategy in to market will require good alignment with these teams. And you will run in to some of those “I own it All” or “That’s not for us”. So make sure your program manager is a strong negotiator and is empowered.
NOT CONVINCED YET, TAKE A LOOK AT SOME COOL EXAMPLES?
THE COOLBLUE DIGITAL EXPERIENCE:
Take a look at companies like Coolblue. I love this local Dutch example where the still have stores, but by effectively opening up online stores, they have been able to grow extensively. Their digital strategy enables them to grow their business organically with good product review video’s and a broad variation of review e.g. pro’s and con’s, they make it easy for you as customer to take the decision there and then, without needing to go to review sites or search for alternatives. Easy ordering and best possible additional products which make the product you are buying even more valuable. Adding Chat (I understand they are quite far with AI), and the easy click and buy has been achieved.
They do something else right. And that is all around the customer experience. Good service, hassle free and making every delivery a present. Their packagings are not just boxes, they are a statement. A gift with a funny twist (This is where the marketing teams play a key role)
NIKE TOOK DIGITAL TO THE NEXT LEVEL…
Recently I completed an interesting course regarding Digital Transformation where the Nike Case was presented. As you may be aware Nike transformed themselves branding the brand online and creating a full suite running experience incl. Mobile apps and watches. Although these products may not be profitable on day one, they stimulate the sale of their core sports products. The online experience and ease of ordering, customizing and tracking is exquisite and combined with their Marketing strategy, their business seems to keep growing (I haven’t looked at the latest numbers, so will take what I’ve learned for what it is). Now again this a Business to Consumer Market proposition with clear alliances with companies like Tom Tom and recently also an Apple Watch Nike version.
KEEP IT REAL..
As mentioned a digital strategy is in simple words applying new online channels to your growth strategy. As Consultant I’ve worked for quite some large corporate companies where services and products have a level of value, that starting an E-commerce site would be less interesting to start of with. However when innovative thinking e.g. componitising your offerings, may result in some clear digital offerings.
A final example: A few years ago when I bought my house I had to go to a Notary, needed a real estate agent for buying and selling, had a broker for insurance and mortgage. Nowadays’s all of the above is done on-line, Self Service and with no hassle. I would have never thought then, that that was possible.
Are you ready to implement your digital strategy?
About the author: @Rahim Gulamali Strategic Customer Experience focussed Transformational Leader with outstanding track record across BPO, Strategic Change Management, Corporate Risk Management, Information technology, Technical and Financial Project Management. Proven track record in; designing, guiding, clarifying and completing (international) strategic programs; motivating teams and individuals to deliver; streaming and energizing existing business processes where People drive/own the success.