by Elliott Waters
With the pandemic accelerating digital adoption by up to 7 years, we look at why businesses and brands need to embrace digital transformation to remain relevant in a world changed forever.
Consumer behaviour is changing
The coronavirus pandemic has put e-commerce at the forefront of retail and online consumerism will continue to rise. Bricks and mortar retailers have been shutting their doors, whilst sales online have boomed. According to the latest research, shopping online has been growing 129% week-on-week in the UK, and it is rapidly shifting consumer expectations of e-commerce. We have seen peoples’ demands heighten in times of adversity and they will only engage with brands that meet their needs. It is vital for online retailers to provide a seamless and frustration-free experience, with accurate product availability, a slick ordering process and immediate fulfilment.
More than ever, consumers are making decisions on who to buy from, based on the way businesses present themselves online. Your website has become your reputation and the standard of design and functionality is speaking volumes about you in your absence. Good UI and UX design is integral to creating a website that unites customers with the products they are looking for quickly and easily, clearly signposting information and guiding users to key content that will engage them. And increased web traffic brings with it more demand on hosting infrastructure, page loading speeds and up to date inventory, so brands need to build sites that are lean and efficient, with compressed imagery, fewer JS/CSS files and up to date plugins for starters.
Working from home is here to stay
The last twelve months have changed the way we work forever. Whilst many will return to the office in time, there is a lasting desire among employees for a more flexible work setup. This brings an increased need to digitise internal operations to ensure that team can work and collaborate remotely. Tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom are just some examples of how technology has helped businesses to run efficiently whilst working remotely. Cloud-based services like Google Workplace and file-sharing facilities like Dropbox are continuing to add value to the day-to-day operations of businesses. If you want to attract top talent then you need to offer a modern working solution.
Brand experience is evolving
Creating a positive brand experience remains as vital as ever, but the way in which our customers engage and review our brands continues to transition to digital. Delivering a good ‘root to fruit’ customer journey requires consistency of message across a wide variety of platforms, from engaging them with relevant and eye-catching advertising on social media channels, to nurturing interest and repeat business through well-structured email campaigns. The appearance of your brand needs to look pixel-perfect and the tone of voice should ring true, whether the customer is reading your latest blog or talking to an employee on a customer service matter on live chat. The digital brand is a fluid thing, able to change shape according to the platform it is placed in, but always recognisable to the target audience.
People are looking for your services online
Generating leads online has been hugely accelerated by the pandemic, with what started out as crisis management becoming the new normal and changing the way buyers and sellers do business. Digital self-serving and remote human interaction has become a growing preference, rather than just a necessity. Potential customers, both B2B and B2C, are increasingly happy to gather information and recommendations online when shortlisting potential suppliers and partners. Increased time spent on digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Clubhouse have made them happy hunting grounds for brands promoting their products and services to targeted demographics and many businesses are reaping the rewards of larger investment in to Google Adwords and SEO to achieve prominence in the rankings for key search terms. The move to digital has been embraced by decision-makers, large and small, across the world and services are being sought out via digital channels as a first port of call. Online marketing also provides you with data, via tools such as Google Analytics and Hotjar, that allows you to review and evaluate the behaviours of your target audience and their interactions with your products and services. When used correctly, this leads to a targeted and measurable marketing strategy.
The message is clear, those brands willing to embrace digital transformation as part of their long-term business strategy will enjoy more success than those that don’t. From IT and operations, to branding and online marketing, this transformation requires a cultural business change in order to remain current. The pandemic has merely accelerated our journey towards a change that was already coming, with consumer habits and demands shaped by technological advance. The businesses that strive to meet these new demands will be the big long-term winners.