It’s no secret that the retail industry is moving away from the traditional landscape of the past. Disruptive technologies like mobile commerce, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things continue to sweep the industry.
Many traditional retailers have struggled in light of this digital shift, but others have pivoted and come out on top. How can businesses successfully keep up with digital transformation? I’ve paid particular attention to the customer journey and evolving consumer buying habits over the years and come up with three key steps to help retail business leaders navigate the modern challenges they're facing.
1. Escape the four walls and build a trustworthy digital platform.
What consumers really want is an experience that removes risk, emphasizes efficiency, and fosters trust between the buyer and seller. The brick-and-mortar experience of the past might hit some of these points, but I believe that a 100 percent digital platform is what today's consumer are seeking. Therefore, one of the first steps toward digital transformation is to take your business online. I’ve seen this work firsthand. With humble beginnings and a crew of devoted leaders, we launched a website, began the RumbleOn platform and took it public at lightning speed.
While there may still be room for brick-and-mortar storefronts, a modern business cannot thrive on this alone. Whether a business is completely online or in support of physical stores, establishing a well-respected online presence will be key to success moving forward.
When designing your online platform, the most important factor to consider is trust. If your website or app doesn’t seem reputable, consumers will most likely not make a purchase. Additionally, 83 percent of customers will recommend a brand they trust, and 78 percent will give its new products and services a try.
Further research has shown that building a seamless user experience that incorporates complete financial security and support is of the utmost importance. Make sure your payment processes are up-to-date with the most recent software and regulations to ensure customers are protected when buying through your platform.
2. Focus on instant gratification.
Humans have a primal desire for immediacy and instant gratification. Since the introduction of the digital era, this need has only increased. For example, millennials thrive off of feedback immediately, and e-commerce is a perfect opportunity to tap into that innate desire.
One way is to offer quick shipping for customers, or a quick cash option for sellers. On the flip side, buyers typically expect to wait around 4.8 days to receive their purchase, so if you’re shipping speed doesn’t meet or exceed that standard, they’ll likely not shop on your site.
3. Establish a mobile presence.
It’s important to remember that the rise of digital transformation in the retail space was predominantly sparked by younger consumers who are more mobile savvy than previous generations.
In fact, 51 percent of millennial consumers agree they run their lives from their mobile device, and 70 percent have made an in-app purchase in the past year. Offering a user-friendly mobile app to accompany your online and in-store platform will help your business reach this unique market of customers in a cheap and efficient manner.
Dominate the Digital World
Traditional industries shouldn't fear digital transformation, but instead embrace it. The powersports industry, of which I work in directly, is in no way immune to this. The auto and bike industry is facing a digital divide, and the gap is only widening. Brands that succeed will possess business models that embrace convenience, efficiency and consumer trust.
Through the use of a trustworthy digital platform which offers instant gratification and a seamless mobile app experience, traditional retailers — like those in the powersports space — will find themselves entering new opportunities and reaching new demographics of customers.
While not all markets may survive the changes that millennials and Gen Z demand, building a digital platform that emphasizes ease and efficiency is a surefire way to weather the challenge.
Marshall Chesrown is the chairman and CEO of RumbleOn, an online motorcycle marketplace.
Related story: Total Retail's 2018 Game Changers List