The possibilities offered by the digital world increase the requirements of everyone trying to compete in the markets. Customers are quickly becoming accustomed to immediately having anything at any time. They want to have the same shopping options on their phones that they have on their desktops including good search and research tools, fast responses to questions and issues on all possible channels, modern payment methods and customized advertising that offers added value. They also expect a convenient shopping experience without hassle and rewards for their loyalty to a company. In this regard, customer-centric market leaders such as Amazon, Zalando and even Google and Apple have raised the bar to new heights.
Companies can only keep pace with the digitalization of society by digitalizing their own processes. This means a dramatic change for many established companies and their IT departments. The have to literally enter into a new world of designing, working together, producing and communicating. To achieve this, internal business processes have to be optimized so that the different technical platforms such as shop, payment, CRM, etc. not only ensure perfect interaction between the company’s analysis, reporting, and data management processes, but also support each other. For example, the ERP system needs to communicate with the shopping software, so that current information about inventories are available in real time. This is the only way to provide customers with the information that a product is no longer available prior to purchase in the online store.
Digitalization also means handling huge amounts of data in an intelligent and targeted way. The real challenge consists of knowing one’s own customers well enough to achieve true loyalty. To do this, the company needs to know what the customer is looking for, how they prefer to buy (locally or on the web), in which life phase they are currently in and what makes them remain loyal to the company. This customer loyalty is ultimately the precondition for growth and yet it is increasingly difficult to attain, because customers have an increasingly transparent view of the market, competition and prices. Strengths and weaknesses can be quickly compared based on product reviews in the social web or online shops, and this information is more important than anything else when it comes to purchasing decisions. This applies to all industries including B2B.
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