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  • Louis Meens

Digital Maturity in Retail: How do leading brands stay competitive through customer-centric growth?

The pandemic has been an accelerator for the digitalization of companies, which have realized the need to increase their online sales capacity and offer a quality digital experience to customers. By 2021, 70% of them were present on the Internet in France.

Although the retail sector is particularly advanced in this area, it is no less diverse: the levels of maturity are heterogeneous. At a time when more than half of consumers are planning to digitalize their shopping journey (more online shopping and research, less time and visits to the shop), the retailers who stand out positively are those who give priority to the online experience. What strategy have they put in place? How does it work?

The fundamentals

In recent years, many companies have begun their transformation, whether by creating their website, being present on social networks, or both. These actions are the first steps in the initial phase of their transformation. To mature, companies will need to adopt a mindset focused on two things: digital and customer experience.

In the digital customer journey, as in the physical, experience is a key differentiator. Customers expect retailers to anticipate their needs while remaining flexible. To meet this challenge, the best companies use a tool that is all too often neglected by less mature companies: real-time data.

By integrating real-time data into its strategy, a company will be able to enter the "innovation" phase. Companies that make the best use of it are able to continuously create personalized experiences that resonate emotionally with their customers. These retailers have made the customer experience their priority.

Customer engagement is the key to moving into the "innovation" phase. The most mature companies have therefore set up listening systems for the main customer paths. They engage them on different channels and integrate the feedback data with other tools to create an overall view of the voice of the customer.

To gather feedback, companies typically solicit it through repeated (and sometimes tedious) surveys, which in the long run can lead to respondent fatigue. To avoid this pitfall, some of the more mature retailers are using online experience analysis in addition to feedback.

The Customer-Led-Growth approach

The most advanced retailers are also the ones that have obtained the support of the management. So much so that the entire company is focused on the idea that excellent customer experience will drive growth and is adopting a customer-centric strategy: Customer-Led-Growth (CLG).

This approach involves brands working with their customers to identify where they can improve the customer experience. CLG practitioners take customer data from all areas of the business and use it to anticipate, automate and unify the customer experience across all customer journeys.

Retailers applying CLG generally practice better customer data management. They can more easily identify how, when and where they collect it. They act efficiently so that their actions are relevant to end users. These companies seek to get the data they need before putting processes in place to leverage it consistently across the enterprise.

These brands, able to take one source of data and distribute it to multiple teams, are particularly attentive to the omnichannel experience they offer their customers.

One brand, for example, has given its contact center team access to session records of customers' digital experiences. This meant that every time a customer called the contact center, the agent could view the replay of the relevant session and empathize with the customer while resolving the issue much more quickly. It was the real-time knowledge of the customer that enabled him to offer the best advice and therefore the best experience to his customer.

In addition, through the CLG approach, retailers can also identify high customer engagement and use this data to trigger a promotional offer in real-time as the customer browses their products.

The adoption of the Customer-Led-Growth approach is a step that few companies take. Retailers that have reached this digital maturity are 26% more profitable than their competitors. Customer-Led-Growth, therefore, has a significant impact on business performance. Experience leaders who have seen the value of real-time data have proven that optimal data management is key to delivering unique experiences. They have understood the importance of evoking emotions in customers because ultimately, a brand's identity is based on how the customer feels about it.


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