Part 1 of the “Road to Digital Transformation” series
The traditional rhyme “find a penny, pick it up, all day long, you’ll have good luck” is a great saying – as long as you find that lucky penny. But what if you had to find 10 pennies each day to pay the bills – or even 50 or 100? Some people may decide to head to the beach with a metal detector, search the pavement outside a fast food drive-up window, or dig deep between the cushions of their couch. Regardless of the approach, most of us would likely rely on good luck and karma to hit our goal.
But as hard as it is to find pennies and loose change, it doesn’t compare to the difficulty many small and midsize businesses have acquiring new customers. A recently released IDC InfoBrief, “The Next Steps in Digital Transformation: How Small and Midsize Companies Are Applying Technology to Meet Key Business Goals,” sponsored by SAP, reported that this one activity is the top priority for between 44.7% and 66.0% of respondents in 13 countries.
No matter the location or culture, most small and midsize businesses understand the importance of amassing more customers to fuel growth and pay the bills. Even companies with the best products or services are tremendously challenged with earning the attention and loyalty of customers. Word of mouth may generate some traffic in the online and physical store; but in the digital world, customers want to be engaged and define their own buying journey.
Meet your digitally empowered customer – where they are and where they will be
The new digital age is changing how small and midsize businesses engage with their customers across the globe. eMarketer estimates that there are over 2 billion smartphone users in the world, and some analysts expect that number to swell beyond 6 billion by 2020. This means that roughly 70% of the world’s population will be able to engage with your brand at any time and on any device. In fact, the Nielsen Global Connected Commerce survey revealed that the majority of customers conduct research online before buying in a store or through an e-commerce site.
As this digitally minded consumer base continues to grow, expectations for the buyer’s experience will evolve. And, according to the IDC InfoBrief, firms worldwide are taking notice of every shift. Survey respondents indicated that two of their top three software investments are focused on targeting and selling to their customers: e-commerce (51%) and customer relationship management (54%). These technologies not only provide marketers with insight into shopping behaviors, but also give customers a natural, consistent, and contextual buying experience.
The customer experience is everything for small and midsize business success
You may have seen those catchy ads for Dollar Shave Club or heard how Ringly connects a ring or bracelet to your smartphone. The lifeblood of these small and midsize firms are their customers, and it’s never been a better time to take on a Goliath.
Since 2011, more than US$18 billion in market share has shifted to small and midsize brands, which now account for nearly half of all U.S. sales in the consumer products industry. And among the top 100 consumer brands in the United States, 90% have lost market share and 68% have experienced falling sales.
To stay healthy and prosper, the firms must find new buyers while retaining their existing customers. The shopping experience must meet the needs of all customers, reflecting their expectations and brand sentiment. Fulfilling this requirement can be as simple as delivering product information that is easily consumable online, making the e-commerce site mobile-friendly, and offering personalized content and product recommendations based on their search and purchase history. And it’s this kind of customer experience that can transform your business from searching endlessly for loose change to consistently finding that lucky penny.
To learn how small and midsize businesses are digitally transforming themselves to advance their future success, check out IDC InfoBrief, “The Next Steps in Digital Transformation: How Small and Midsize Companies Are Applying Technology to Meet Key Business Goals,” sponsored by SAP. Be sure to check every Tuesday for new installments to our blog series “Road to Digital Transformation.”
Image: slgckgc via Flickr