This article is written by Mendix World 2016 speaker, Kamales Lardi, a Digital Transformation strategist and author.
The world we live in today is connected and mobile. As the world around us becomes increasingly digital, consumers are quickly adopting technology and benefiting from quick and easy accessibility to the online world. In addition, as the smartphone and mobile device adoption rate reaches almost 40% globally, people are getting used to ‘anytime, anywhere’ connectivity.
This rapid development of technology, mass adoption and increased accessibility have triggered a global shift in consumer behavior. A new generation of consumers has emerged. They are sophisticated, hyper-informed, always-mobile-connected, and actively use online platforms such as social media. These consumers have become accustomed to the high level of interactivity and responsiveness, ease of use and seamless experience offered by the online platforms that exist today. As a result, they are demanding a similar experience from their interactions with companies, across both online and offline channels.
These visionary consumers have redefined the business landscape. Many companies have responded to this shift by launching online presences and innovative digital marketing initiatives. Although effective in reaching and engaging customers online, these initiatives tend to be impactful for a limited time. For example, digital marketing campaigns tend to bring results only during the duration of the campaign.
Meeting the demands of the visionary customers requires companies to re-imagine their customer experience, bringing together the best of both the digital and physical experiences. There are numerous examples of companies that have incorporated online or eCommerce elements to their physical businesses. However, it is now also critical to incorporate digital elements into the physical world, such as stores, branches and physical infrastructure. The question on the minds of many retailers is how this same dichotomy applies to their own business. The end result should be creating a seamless experience for customers, irrelevant of which access point they are using to interact with the company.
So how can the physical and digital aspects of the business ecosystem coexist and complement each other to create a better overall customer experience? The key is to create a “digical” environment, where companies and consumers interact in a blend of the digital and physical worlds.
The retail industry has been quick to adopt ‘’digical’’ approaches, for example, setting up digital media and access points in physical stores. For example, UK retailer Marks & Spencer implemented five ‘Browse & Order’ points that connect customers to the company’s full range online, where the customer can pay for an item and have it ordered to the store or for home delivery.
However, not all technology innovations in the retail stores have been successful. For example, John Lewis tested two virtual ‘StyleMe’ mirrors, developed by Cisco, with bespoke built-in 3D cameras to capture shoppers’ dimensions and superimpose a virtual outfit over their reflections. The project failed to make any money and the mirrors were quickly removed.
Failing fast and learning quickly is a critical element of innovation. Companies have a higher chance of identifying successful use cases for ‘’digical’’ if they consistently keep customers at the center of their efforts. In order to achieve this, companies need to redefine their business landscape to align with the rising expectations of their visionary customers. In these terms, mapping the customer journey in its entirety, including online and offline access points, is a key element of the digital business transformation toolkit.
A customer journey map represents the customer’s expectations, experiences and reflections, as it unfolds over time across multiple stages and touch points, while using a product or consuming a service (Dell, 2016). The term “customers” does not only refer to end-users; it could include any stakeholders such as employees or partners.
By overlaying the digital possibilities in the customer journey map, companies can better visualize aspects of their business to focus on, and new technologies to explore or embrace to create a ‘’digical’’ business environment. This will help in realigning investments and resource initiatives that would meet visionary customer needs.
I will be sharing a strategic approach to incorporating ‘’digical’’ into your business environment and developing a visionary customer journey map at the Mendix World event on June 7-8th. Join me to find out more.