What happens when digital is planned and executed to perfection? 2

What happens when digital is planned and executed to perfection?

Digital changes the way businesses work – even down to how they interact with their customers. These seismic ripples simultaneously throw the company’s axis off-kilter, often causing it to fail several times before an essential balance is found.

Experimentation and a willingness to challenge accepted procedures are essential for any business with its sights set on digital transformation. Nor can the term be used flippantly as part of a branding exercise designed to get traction on a webpage or blog post.

The process must be woven into the very DNA of the business and requires a combination of first-class leadership and innovative technology – all of which is wrapped up in a clear mission statement.

Most importantly, though, it’s about survival. The recent pandemic has shaken the global economy to its core – forcing businesses to adapt to changing customer expectations, supply chain disruptions, and a range of other critical issues.

Those who adapted survived. Those who didn’t fell behind or disappeared altogether.

What makes an effective digital strategy?

Many elements must successfully combine for the transformation to succeed.

Here are three examples:

  1. Start with a goal, from which will emerge the all-important ‘why’ that will drive change. Too many businesses reverse-engineer this process only to set themselves up for failure.
  2. Humans make change happen – which means employees must embrace digital transformation at every level if the strategy is to have a chance of success.
  3. Change should be first attempted on a micro level to mitigate risk and create small wins that act as proofs-of-concept which confirm the approach is working.

Locating the right technology to drive change, finding the right partners to implement transformation, and seeking out feedback must also form part of the long-term strategy.

Digital transformation in action: practical examples we can learn from

Armed with a deeper knowledge of what digital transformation is, and its central principles, here are some real-world examples.

1. Cazoo prepares to exploit gap in European used car market

In 2019 98% of the European car market was still offline. This seemed strange to Alex Chesterman – the founder of Cazoo – who recognised how the sector was ripe for digital transformation. It was a gamble that would pay off, with the company achieving a £5bn valuation on Wall Street in March 2021.

Speaking about the valuation, Mr Chesterton discussed how the used car market would forever be in a state of flux – because consumers are constantly ‘discovering better ways to transact.’ 

The recent pandemic is a case in point. Before COVID-19, buyers preferred to buy used cars the old-fashioned way by visiting a local dealership. That way, they could seek advice from an expert and physically experience the vehicle of interest first.

The pandemic normalised buying behaviour to the extent consumer mindset reversed, with many stating they’d be happy to buy a used car online. If this trend continues, Cazoo – which is still in the red – will be on track to start making profit in 2024. 

Meanwhile, competitors in the used car arena who failed to embrace digital transformation could be encumbered with higher fixed costs and a lack of online presence.

2. Home Depot overhauls its online shopping experiences 

Already highly successful in 2017, Home Depot saw an opportunity to expand its digital strategy offering. It did this by taking its shopping experience multi-channel – improving its reach and creating a joined-up experience for its customers.

This digital transformation was phased over a three-year period and involved enlisting the expertise of over 1,000 IT specialists – a strategy that paid dividends.

Home Depot can now:

  • track trends and maintain better inventory
  • use customer data more effectively
  • access more back-end distribution channels

Starting with the why, slowly building momentum, and getting cultural buy-in led to Home Bargain increasing its revenue by an astounding $17 billion – proving that digital transformation works if properly planned and implemented.

3. Audi uses in-store digital experiences to drive sales

When we think of the term ‘digital transformation’ our minds tend to gravitate toward the Internet of Things. But such strategies can also be deployed in-store and to great effect.

Back in 2014, Audi was facing a dilemma: showrooms located in city centres lacked the space needed to showcase the car retailer’s ever-increasing range of vehicles. This translated into missed opportunities and lost revenue – a problem the car giant set out to rectify.

Back in 2012 it introduced Audi City: a series of showrooms featuring ‘powerwalls’ (giant interactive screens) that allowed customers to configure their car in full size, even if it wasn’t available to view in-store.

By solving this common space-related issue, Audi’s digital transformation strategy drove up sales in its London offices by 60% and reduced the need to hold high stock volumes on site.

Digital transformation isn’t easy

The success stories shared so far make digital transformation sound easy. Yet many established businesses and organisations (who should know better) fall down in the execution. For example, the BBC had to write off £98.3 million in unused assets when its planned Digital Media Initiative (DMI) failed in 2008 due to insufficient technical capacity and poor project management.

Your next step

With a provable track record of helping big brands achieve digital success, we’re perfectly positioned to help you achieve your ambitions. Take a look at some of our recent case studies and get in touch to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Andrew Machin
Andrew Machin

With over 15 years’ experience in web design and digital marketing Andrew has helped many brands, both in the UK and US, create exceptional digital experiences, from websites to in-store retail experiences, such as John Lewis, Jet2, Virgin Holidays and Interflora.

Through the success of such projects Andrew has received accolades that include high-profile awards that span innovation, strategy, design and results such as the Dadi Grand Prix Award and the Digital Impact Award for Innovation.

This experience has led to Andrew judging digital design awards, been featured in .net magazine, lecturing at Leeds university and speak at seminars and conferences across the UK.

Follow Andrew @The_Machin

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