Build Your Business Like a Digital Platform to Accelerate Loyalty
Previously known as the “Internet Big Five,” Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are now known as the “Big Five” tech companies, or simply, the “Big Five.” And, with their revenues and market caps growing to previously incomprehensible levels, the words “monopoly” and “oligopoly” are being brandished about more and more. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with this nomenclature, it would be difficult to argue that these companies have become market leaders because they are masters at generating engagement and leveraging loyalty to establish dominance. And, they have harnessed the power of technology to rapidly increase competitive agility and create winner-take-most markets.
Now, Amazon is continuing its march into the physical store with the Whole Foods acquisition, confirming virtually every industry expert’s view that only multi-channel retailers will survive, and that brick-and-mortar-only businesses need to jump on board this bandwagon, or get out of its way (and, if the strategy is simply to get out of the way, the inevitable breathing in of its dust is about to commence).
To become, or remain, leaders, retail outlets and restaurant operators will need to expand their focus to integrate the physical and digital customer experience:
- Customer: Become hyper customer-focused to create a loyalty profile that will entice an experience-driven consumer who is hyper-connected, collaborative, social, and health conscious.
- Culture: Unite behind business objectives that prioritize delighting customers who are members of the loyalty profile, including hiring roles that lead customer experience.
- Execution: Extrapolate the business objectives into defined use cases to quickly improve and measure operational efficiency, reduce costs, accelerate time-to-market, and enhance the customer experience. Iterate rapidly with measured experimentation rather than risk perfection delay.
This is where the brick-and-mortar sector can steal a page from the Big Five playbook to establish a solid position in the emerging omni-channel marketplace. The first step is to embrace innovation and build out the businesses like digital platforms, using big data and customer analytics to enhance and unify the customer/guest experience across brand interactions: mobile, online, and physical.
As the platform matures, it produces the network effect in which adoption and growth benefit both consumer and provider. The more people that use the platform, the more attractive it becomes to join it. (Facebook, SnapChat, etc.) For retailers and restaurateurs, favorable reviews are one engine of the network effect.
Continued development of the platform to increase engagement and loyalty via customer analytics creates the flywheel effect, where an understanding of customer preference begets more engagement, which begets more personalization, such as localization and proximity-based recommendations, which converts to more nearby hard purchases.
Many companies struggle to justify ROI on tech innovation, which highlights the importance of aligning business objectives to clear use-cases that measure the impact on operational efficiency, customer experience, and time-to-market.
Software-defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs) are gaining adoption precisely because they demonstrate quick payback by greatly reducing the cost and time-to-value of secure application rollout. Even better, they can be piloted quickly on a site-by-site basis, greatly reducing capital outlays.
Are you one of the leaders building the platform to deliver consistent, integrated experiences to your customers based on customer preferences and behavioral data? Changing habits is hard but adapting your network to your customer’s existing behavior has never been easier.