COVID-19 has made e-commerce the new normal. As consumers switched to online shopping, companies were racing to establish their digital presence to stay “known.” Mobile applications, websites, and social media are the most prevalent tools that companies use to connect their brand with customers on a daily basis.
However, brands’ digital presence has unknowingly become many companies’ Achilles’ Heel in the competitive e-commerce era. Many companies continued to bleed cash no matter how much data (they think) they have.
Why Digital Presence Doesn’t Equal Profits
Companies don’t know how to effectively collect and use data when they try to build and maintain customer relationships across different digital platforms, mainly mobile applications, websites, and social media posts.
As a first-time buyer of expensive electronic products, I faced a lot of pressure to make the right purchase. Before I decided to purchase a Nintendo Switch at Walmart, I had consulted some previous online buyers on Amazon, GameStop, and BestBuy. I found the Nintendo Switch overpriced at Amazon when comparing my experience with GameStop and BestBuy.
Historically, I have always gone grocery shopping at Walmart in person to pick and choose the right items, so I felt more confident to pay Walmart a visit.
My decision was based on two main needs:
- Fair pricing: getting the right price.
- Reliability and security: getting the right product at the right time.
After analyzing my options, Walmart could have secured my purchase for the game console. Yet, I ended up buying the Nintendo Switch on Amazon just a day after I visited Walmart.
Why Did I Come Back to Amazon?
I visited Walmart to reduce my anxiety and insecurity with online shopping. Rather than helping me with my shopping needs, Walmart store assistants simply told me to look up Nintendo Switch on their mobile app because they didn’t have the product in-store.
I questioned myself, “Walmart has a mobile app, so I should not go to their store to seek assistance?”
Had the store assistant at least helped me install and walk through how to use the app, Walmart would have had my purchase in their database.
Having no interest in downloading the Walmart app, I browsed Amazon again after I got home. I was already familiar with Amazon’s website and had the Switch in my recommendation list. When I discovered that the Nintendo Switch’s overpricing issue was fixed, Amazon became the fair-pricing, reliable, and secure platform for my online purchase.
My Walmart story is just one example of how companies are failing to either solve customers’ problems or learn about customers’ needs. Walmart staff’s assumption about my connection with their digital presence became their Achilles’ Heel.
There are three possible ways for in which companies can prevent their digital presence from becoming their Achilles’ Heel.
1. Letting Customers Know About Your Mobile Application
According to Statista, there were 218 billion mobile app downloads worldwide in 2020 among nearly 9 billion existing mobile apps, which may imply that there are only 25 downloads per app (assuming all apps are equally popular). Such a fact illustrates the probability that if a company starts rolling out an app in 2020, there is a high chance that customers might not even know about its existence.
Every year, Disney adds new features to their mobile app to make customers feel familiar and comfortable with using Disney’s Disneyland Mobile App. By adding new features, Disney makes its customers face less inconvenience when introducing new changes, such as when they introduced a new in-app safety guideline for their customers in the post-pandemic era.
2. Focusing on Customer Value
The Nintendo Switch Game Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) is my favorite example of adding customer value. Rather than publicizing its game, Nintendo makes the game for the customers. The game encourages players to stay active both within the game and outside of the game.
Nintendo created the ACNH official website and other social media platforms to further integrate customer experience with the game through messages by ACNH’s representative character: Isabelle. Celebrating villagers’ birthdays, organizing seasonal events, and sending gifts to online friends are just some of the many ways ACNH’s ways to boost and reward customers’ engagement.
During a time of virtual connection, I feel like I belong to a community every time I join the game.
3. Identifying How Customers Connect with Your Brand
A successful digital presence requires an understanding of how brand can connect with their customers.
Uniqlo capture customers’ interests with innovative designs and collaboration with artists and designers.
Uniqlo connects customers with different cultures, arts, and entertainment through their UT collaborations with famous icons and artists. Uniqlo gained high profits by identifying the right value proposition: uniqueness and brand story-telling.
Nike, on the other hand, builds its own digital ecosystem with a suite of apps to collect customer data and personalize the customer experience.
In The Economist’s video on the future of shopping, Nike goes beyond just collecting customer data for selling products. They use the data to build an intimate network with customers by learning about their hobbies, preferences, and personal values.
Customers, by all means, cannot get the same experience anywhere else, whether they shop online or in-person.
Don’t Let Digital Presence Be Your Achilles’ Heel, but Transform It Into A Goose Lays Golden Eggs.
However, not all companies can afford what big companies are doing.
Nevertheless, companies can take smaller steps to establish a better digital presence by:
- Doing market research: Simply talking with all customers and observing their behaviors can make a difference.
- Be cautious of the customer’s ideal self in their conversations.
- Analyze why customers do what they do, not just what they do.
According to Tricia Wang in her TEDtalk about thick data, one of the reasons for Nokia’s demise was its fixation on big data. Nokia’s story would’ve gone differently if they focused on understanding their customers’ emotional needs.
To win customers’ hearts in the Digital Age, we need to understand them emotionally.
Citing a quote from Seth Godin that every company needs to keep in mind when deploying digital presence to collect and use data: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”
At Topic Insights, we know that there’s a leader inside each and every one of us. It’s our mission to help you nurture and inspire that leader. For more actionable content like this, subscribe to our newsletter. Questions? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us today.