This post is co-authored by our Director Mobile Solutions, Matthijs Kneppers, and our Retail Software Global Product Marketing Manager, Reint Jan Holterman.
In the first part of this mobile retail series, we took a look at some stats that illustrate how much consumers love mobile, and explored some of the reasons why retailers are struggling when it comes to providing integrated mobile experiences. Most retailers would agree that a mobile strategy is vital to making retail more personal and convenient, yet fail to execute upon this strategy with full force. One of the key challenges faced by retailers is the duality of digital. According to a McKinsey article about why digital strategies fail, retail organizations are missing the fact that they “need to digitize their current business and innovate new models” at the same time.
In this article we’d like to introduce our ideas around mobile strategy definition and how to execute upon this strategy using the Vynamic™ Mobile Retail solution.
Defining your digital strategy
In the era of the consumer, retailers will need to put their consumer right in the middle, making their needs and demands the driver of everything they do. If an idea is not in the best interest of the consumer, it is probably a bad idea.
That’s why we propose to take the consumer journey – being the consumer’s chosen way to interact with the retailer – as our point of reference when defining a viable digital strategy. This approach addresses the duality dilemma noted above: as we analyze the journeys consumers are on today, we automatically incorporate the current business scenarios, and use that foundation as the starting point for identifying and implementing new digital models. Rather than trying to change your entire infrastructure, think of it as ‘spicing up’ your current consumer journeys with digital elements to improve the consumer experience. Breaking your evolution into manageable steps, starting with extending current journeys and adding relevant digital interactions where appropriate, helps you quickly gain a number of benefits.
Five benefits of extending consumer journeys with new digital elements
First of all, we can move fast. It is easier to add new digital elements – such as mobile payments or digital receipts – into an existing journey than to first invent and then implement entirely new journeys.
Secondly, we can move in an agile way. By this we mean that we can help your organization move forward in incremental steps, as you evolve toward a more connected future state. Our approach enables you to “learn while doing,” and to more easily adjust your digital innovations based on the experiences gained along the way.
Digital innovations move at the speed of light, and it can be challenging to keep up. So in addition, this agile, journey-driven approach allows retailers to adopt new market innovations as they occur. Rather than implementing a 12- or 24-month roadmap to becoming a ‘digital retailer,’ we support the ability to seamlessly weave in new developments as they appear in the market.
A fourth benefit of extending journeys with digital elements is that retailers can focus on digitizing one business process at a time. This allows retailers to rethink each of their core business processes, such as marketing, checkout, merchandise management and store optimization processes one by one, without overhauling their entire business operations.
Last but not least, by gradually extending journeys with new digital elements, you let your staff accommodate more easily to new digital innovations. Employees learn one new skill, tool or process change at a time, which is easier to scale and quicker to implement across hundreds of stores.
Enable built-in flexibility in your strategy
It’s important to note that there is no recipe, no ‘one size fits all’ digital strategy for retailers. Differences between retail formats, target markets, geographies and cultural differences will influence a digital strategy. This means that most retailers will have to introduce levers to fine-tune the overall digital strategy to local tastes, conditions and set-ups.
We like to use the analogy of Legos. With Legos, you can build almost anything out of a set of standardized bricks. It allows kids (and adults who are young at heart) to construct new concepts fast and flexibly, limited only by their imagination.
Crucially, each Lego brick fits on top of an existing brick. The holes and studs (i.e. the Lego brick’s interface) are consistent, so it is quite easy to build on an existing construction and add new elements without having to destroy everything first. In other words, it’s a process of ‘creative construction’ (as opposed to Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’).
In your digital strategy, you’re probably looking for the same flexibility and speed in developing new consumer apps, keeping pace with the market without reinventing the wheel over and over again and being able to extend your existing construction (for example, a mobile app).
Taking this approach allows retailers to gain experience and gather relevant consumer feedback on newly introduced digital elements. It also enables marketing, IT and business operations staff’s DNA to become permeated with ‘digital’ in a more intuitive, easy-to-process manner. Paving the way toward a truly digital environment can help ensure a successful evolution; after all, one cannot expect people to be real visionary heroes if they have not been fully exposed to new digital developments and initiatives themselves. Experimenting with and gradually adopting digital building blocks in a more ‘evolutionary’ manner helps foster a new digital consciousness in key staff which helps define and execute a ‘revolutionary’ mobile retail roadmap.
Executing your digital strategy
One of the biggest questions around mobile pertains to execution. Once you’ve defined your mobile strategy, you’ll need technology that lets you incrementally add on to and extend existing consumer journeys with digital elements. You’ll also want technology that brings greater flexibility and faster time-to-market while incorporating the latest market developments.
We designed Vynamic Mobile Retail to meet these evolving needs, with a cloud-based approach that allows retailers to offer an unsurpassed mobile experiences to consumers. Based on a set of standardized, reusable ‘micro apps’ (remember those Lego bricks?), retailers can quickly, flexibly introduce new mobile apps at competitive costs based on the consumer journeys they want to support.
A micro app is a user-oriented application that delivers highly targeted, task-based functionality. Think of it as a mobile building block that contains screens (UI), logic (flow) and backend integrations (API). Examples of micro apps are mobile coupons, shopping history logs, digital loyalty cards, mobile payments, biometric authentication capabilities and mobile basket scanning, to name a few. Similar to Legos, these micro apps can be easily ‘built’ on top of one another to create a new app, and can also be easily added to existing (third party) mobile consumer apps, to incrementally extend new digital functionality.
Vynamic Mobile Retail offers some powerful new opportunities for retailers:
In an extremely fast-moving, connected and digitized world, retailers need the right tooling to keep up. So ask yourself: Is your current technology ecosystem prepared to execute successfully upon your digital strategy?
We’ll help you answer that question. Let’s start a conversation today.