Digital transformation is (McKinsey&Company): Creating value at the new frontiers of the business world, creating value in the processes that execute a vision of customer experiences, and building foundational capabilities that support the entire structure.
The first attempts to sell clothes online were seen as nothing short of foolishness. It was viewed as a poor example of a digital application in a business environment. Late last year, Amazon became the number one selling clothing retailer in the United States. And the lessons apply not only to digital merchandizing, but to the business landscape in general.
According to an IDC report, FutureScape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2016 Predictions, a third of the top 20 firms in industry segments will be disrupted by new competitors within five years. In short, digital transformation has become a matter of survival.
This blog looks beyond the urgency for digital transformation and shares four of the most important aspects of transformation that will determine whether your efforts, usually expensive and time-intensive, sink quickly or allow you to safely navigate the choppy waters of change.
Digital transformation is so much more than incorporating the latest bit of shiny digital into your business. Not only has the rate of change increased at dizzying speed, but the nature of change continues to evolved in such a way that we can no longer be sure what we’ll change or how we’ll change in the next few months, let alone next year. The reason “70% of siloed digital transformation initiatives will ultimately fail by 2018,” the IDC predicts, “is because of insufficient collaboration, integration, sourcing or project management."
In other words, successful digital transformation is as much about cultural change as it is about technology. Organizations will need to continually challenge the status quo, try new initiatives often, and keep their nerve when they fail. This might even involve abandoning long-standing business processes for relatively new practices that are still being defined. For this reason, it’s vital to never go ahead with a digital transformation initiative without the full commitment of leadership that has the support of their shareholders and board.
Be clever about how you introduce digital transformation to your business. Begin with a pilot project. This way you’ll be able to keep the project small and manageable, and contained as a stand-alone that doesn’t demand a lot of time and effort from other departments. This means the project is more malleable and you’re likely to create a few quick wins to win more people over for the next expanded phase.
So for example, you’ve decided to digitize many of the processes around your branded merchandise program. Your chosen partner will begin to build the foundations of an online company store by listing your branded items, and creating a digital artwork library. Staff involved would be those employees usually tasked with the headache of keeping tabs on current inventory while trying not to over or under order, as well as get the right artwork to one of a confusion of suppliers, and capturing all this on clumsy Excel spreadsheets.
It would take little time for these employees to enjoy the labor and time-saving features of a digital merchandizing program that allows them to view real-time stock, effortlessly place orders in minutes online, get authorization, and know they’ve sent the right artwork to approved suppliers only.
These quick wins will create project evangelists that will make the expanded phase of your online company store easier and more likely to succeed.
A challenge for many digital transformation projects is safeguarding against a tendency to fall back on old and familiar ways.
Whether or not you manage to avoid this pitfall is largely dependant on two things: how well you picked your project and set up your trial run, and whether or not you won over project converts with those quick wins.
The long term success of your initiative will be driven by individuals who are enthusiastic about the business value of the transformation and happy to spread their knowledge to their peers. This can be accomplished by creating opportunities for them to share new skills and tools in any number of ways, from more formal training, to meet-ups, and brown bag sessions.
Never give up too soon on digital transformation within your organisation. The biggest job ahead of you will be setting the tone for a culture of digital transformation. Once accomplished, you’ll be ready to plant the seeds with your pilot project, water them, and watch them grow.
These first two phases may take some time, but get them right and your organisation is poised on the exciting brink of a brand new future. To ignore digital transformation is a sure way to seal your fate in the technology-driven business environment of today and tomorrow. Having an online company store is the future of shopping, and digital merchandizing offers an opportunity to gain important customer insights that will help to shape your company and its success going forward. It’s a great way to introduce digital transformation to your organisation.
Proforma Durkee is the online company store expert. Their best-in-class workflow technology platform and more than 500 contracted partners, continue to ensure that 40,000+ online company stores get the most out of their branded merchandise programs for as little time and money as possible. If you’re ready to discuss creating an online store for your company, please contact us and let's chat.
For more information about the benefits on an online company store, you can download our free infographic, The future of corporate branding is digital, that explores topics like easy reporting, brand consistency, inventory control, automated workflow, and budget control.
Topics: branded merchandise