The examples of businesses ‘going digital’ and stressing their commitment to meet these changing consumer habits are plentiful. The major banks have created online platforms and mobile apps to help customers while at the same time looking to cut back on branch numbers.
They are constantly looking at changing customer habits and new technology and responding quickly. Lloyds Banking Group, for example, said recently it will offer its customers access to mobile payments system Apple Pay from this autumn.
Stephen Noakes, managing director retail customer products, Lloyds Banking Group says: “The way consumers fulfil their banking needs is changing in the UK, as our customers want to bank and transact on the go. Offering Apple Pay utilises the latest technology to respond to this ever increasing demand.”
High street chain Argos launched a digital transformation programme in 2012 aiming to trim its store numbers, introduce digital catalogues and use its outlets as product pick-up points for online orders.
Bikes and car parts chain Halfords has a ‘Click with the Digital Future’ plan which has involved revamping its website, including a mobile-enabled version, live chat and online number-plate ordering. More than 90 per cent of its online sales are picked up in store with plans to make Halfords stores available for customers to pick up parcels ordered from other retailers. The hope is to attract new kinds of customers to its stores. An in-house digital studio has helped it stock its You Tube site with product reviews.
But firms are not just catering for customers needs. Engineering consultancy Atkins is working with telecom groups to use anonymised data from mobiles to track peoples’ movements and help it better design road networks.
Peter Veash, chief executive of digital communications group The BIO Agency says: “We are seeing digital growth in every sector. From banking to B2B companies are putting digital at their heart. Customers are choosing new businesses which are disrupting traditional firms such as lastminute.com challenging the airline sector and PayPal challenging banking.”
It is forced firms to respond by “putting the customer at the heart of what they do”. Veash continues: “Before businesses put their own products at the heart but now they are asking what customers want from our business. They have become much more customer-centric.”
The BIO Agency covers the whole digital spectrum including helping clients develop and improve their E-commerce offerings, digital marketing and digital retail. “We will help them make the shift; how to talk to customers in an online world and how their business models fit,” Veash says. “We’ve worked with Hibu helping it make its first online sale, worked out the digital future for Lloyds and with retailers such as Halfords in how to bring digital into its customer journey.”
Increasingly that means blending online and in-store digital experiences including digital touchpoints. “If I am online and I find a product that I am interested in then when I go into the store to find out more I don’t want to have to start the whole conversation again,” Veash says. “I want to take off from where I left off on my mobile. It is about tailoring service to the customer’s needs and connecting their experience in store. The resistance to digital has gone, businesses have to get ready for this.”
In tomorrow’s instalment of the series we take a look at how to get your digital services off the ground…