To proactively manage the impact of digital disruption, it helps to understand the types of challenges it presents and then put in place processes to manage these challenges.
We asked the retailers in the survey to assess how they saw the many and varied challenges of managing disruption by managing the creation of new experiences.
The challenges are ranked here from the biggest to the smallest challenges based on a three point scale where 1 is a minor challenge and 3 is a significant challenge.
The challenges are presented for the organizations that saw them as a significant challenge. You can see that the challenges are rated similarly by many organizations – so these are core, common challenges. Getting senior management buy-in is less of a common problem, but still rated a challenge in many businesses. Reviewing the averages, these were between 1.91 and 2.07 on the 3 point scale. Integrating digital technology solutions is often rated as a challenge.
This is unsurprising given the range of technology options available, and indeed, a cursory glance at Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology info graphic highlights over 1,800 ManTech companies across 40 categories1. Closely related to this, the challenges of creating, managing and measuring experiences across multiple devices are also highlighted.
Creation of in-store digital experiences
Use of in-store Wi-Fi and encouraging social media engagement are the most widely deployed in-store digital engagement techniques. More advanced techniques such as in-store beacons, NFC enabled product tags (like Cloud Tags) and in-store augmented reality were rated lower, despite the hype and case studies of early adopters in the retail press.
- Market agility where customer research, real-time employee insights and structured experiments are used to understand customer preferences and to respond by creating better digital experiences and giving staff the right type of insight to manage their interactions better.
- Systems development agility where updates to the digital customer proposition and experience are implemented using agile systems development methodologies such as Scrum.
If you’re interested to learn more about how to structure a team and manage agile development, you may find this well-regarded case history4 explaining how spottily has implemented an agile methodology inspiring. It details how spottily structures its development team into different groups so they can focus on rapidly creating an effective proposition while maintaining links between teams.
Control of the multichannel experience
Consistency and integration of customer experience is often described as a challenge and this is no surprise since there are a wide number of customer touch points ranging from company pages across the different social networks to websites accessed over desktop, tablet and Smartphone devices plus email and SMS messaging. Lack of consistency and integration between touch points can commonly occur when there isn’t clear responsibility across the different touch points. However, within this group of companies, clear responsibility was the norm with 85% of participants describing responsibility as clearly defined.
To create a more strategic approach to investing in digital experiences a longer-term perspective will help. With so many competing initiatives such as those covered in section 2, there is a risk that options aren’t prioritized and deployed. When we asked retailers in the survey about their planning horizon we were surprised to see a mixed pattern of short and long-term planning given that the majority of respondents belonged to larger organizations.
Whilst it could be argued that a longer-term view isn’t required given the rate of change of new digital innovation and adoption of an Agile approach, it’s impractical to improve all aspects of the customer journey in a short-term view. If we consider Dell’s approach to their experience optimization, as an example, they evolved over a five year period to best in class starting with the basics of testing value propositions in each country through to personalization and then more advanced structured testing programmers.
Recommended techniques to improve the quality of digital experiences
To conclude the study, we wanted to share best practices around processes and tools that are used to continuously improve digital experiences. We asked about adoption of a range of techniques related to testing new ideas for experiences to improve effectiveness and agile methodology. We asked about adoption based on a three-point scale where the current capability was assessed from 1 (zero adoption) to 3 (category leading). So techniques with the higher average response have been adopted more widely.
Although Big Data has many applications, we asked about a specific retail use-case, which is applying it for predictive intelligence to make more relevant recommendations to customers. Responses showed that more than half of businesses (61%) are using this technique. Two other types of techniques we asked about were structured testing or conversion optimization and using an agile approach to develop and launch new features. We can see that a relatively large proportion of companies aren’t using these techniques which could be expected to be standard in larger multichannel organizations today: