Retail Digital Transformation: A Simple Explanation

Swapna Sasidharan
Digital transformation
Illustration: © IoT For All

Digital transformation is here. But, what is Digital transformation? Many are still wondering if someone can give them a 3 minute, simple overview of why a company needs to transform digitally. If you have ever pondered on this thought as you are busy navigating your day-to-day life, you are in the right place!

In simple terms, digital transformation is being digitally capable of changing the way you do business. This change can yield a significantly higher return on investment.

Retail and Digital Transformation

Let’s examine the idea of digital transformation through the lens of retail. Retail is all about buying goods from suppliers at a low price and selling them back to consumers at a higher price. In this way, you make a profit. Retailers also look at optimizing their processes- from the point goods are produced to how it gets to the shelf and then gets sold to customers. This all has been working well for a long time. So what has happened to change it, and why do you need to transform?

In the traditional retail world, the retailer’s focus has been product-centric: making money by selling the product at the best possible price. In the current environment, it is not just the lowest bidder the customer is looking for. The customers are also looking for the best value for their money. Instead of attracting customers with products and offers at a lower price, you focus on what brings the most value to the customer and provides them with a superior experience.

What do you do? You do your homework and figure out where your customers hang out and how they like to be engaged. You offer them the products they want in a channel convenient to them, regardless of whether they are in-store or online. You provide them as many details as possible about the product to simplify their decision, make their check-out process seamless, and amaze them with fast delivery and return policies. If possible, engage with them personally, understand their tastes and what they are looking for, talk to them and treat them in a way they like to be treated so you can build a loyal relationship. In digital marketing terms, you can call this ‘omnichannel enablement’ as your customers’ engagement is not tied to a specific channel but based on their preferred mode of engagement.

Omnichannel Personalized Experience

So how do you provide an omnichannel personalized experience for your customers? This can be done only with the help of data. During the entire time in-store, your customers are interacting with the brand and you have the opportunity to test and learn about them and gain insights from their interactions with your products and services. Then, take action to provide them the best experience possible, so they get the most value out of their time and money spent.

And how can this vast amount of data be collected for constant learning and improvement of the customer relationship? Only with the help of technology, or “Digital Transformation.” Overhaul your infrastructure and build the right technical ecosystem to collect and process large amounts of data to support the customers in their journey.

This is the simplest way to explain the retail digital transformation. For any retail organization, to provide this superior experience to customers, there is significant work involved in other parts of the organization like inventory, supply chain, merchandising, product, store designs, etc. It is only by setting up the right operating models and governance structures across the organization that businesses can drive and scale.

The retail digital transformation is here. Are you ready?