The one constant in the digital world is change.

Take the roll-out of Google Glass and 4G for instance.  What effect will only these two products and services have on how we behave online?  We can take an informed guess but it’s a good bet that most of us will fail to see the next big thing that will create the new generation of tech millionaires.

Digital technology disrupts companies, industries and even geopolitical power structures that don’t embrace change (think Twitter and the Arab Spring). The empty retail spaces and charity shops on your local high street are all signs of its impact. In fact, ecommerce is altering the very social fabric of our towns and cities as consumers’ buying behaviour evolves.

It’s a simple fact that people will follow the path of least resistance.  Amazon quickly recognised that and has grown to become a retailing superpower by being utterly focused on removing any reason not to purchase.  Their offerings such as Prime free delivery service and its one-click purchase make finding what you want and parting with your hard-earned cash effortless.

Other progressive retailers are applying this philosophy across all their channels, making it simple for their customers to buy from them wherever (and whenever) they are. However the irony of digital technology is that as quickly as it makes things more convenient, so it increases complexity.  Life for most of us is getting more complicated.

Keeping it Simple

The companies that will win in digital are those than can reduce complexity and make our hectic lives just that little bit easier. This means thinking about digital in a very different way.  Its role is spreading through all aspects of organisations.  Everything from service offering, product design, sales and marketing and customer service need to be considered when developing a digital strategy.

This is changing the profile of marketing departments and marketers themselves.  They are becoming more analytical as they look to understand the metrics of which online marketing channels are providing the most sales. The idea of having a marketing department separate and distinct from the digital and ecommerce team is living on borrowed time.

Manufacturers that historically relied on other retail partners for their distribution are seeing their routes to market disintegrate.  In response they are rapidly learning to become retailers and marketers themselves and are embracing a direct-to-consumer online strategy. Organisations are using digital technology to blend these different functions so that each customer engagement point is a chance to win loyalty, interact and ultimately sell.

Paradoxically, technology is not the point in all this, as great digital design should be invisible. Users aren’t interested in channels or screens and the lines are now blurring between mobile and desktop.

Your technical platform should act purely as an enabler that delivers what the user wants in a way that creates engaging and memorable brand experiences they hopefully feel inclined to share. Your numerous competitors are just a click away and your consumers’ expectations have been relentlessly raised to the point where USP’s around service are being commoditised.

Brand Experience

To differentiate yourself online you need to create a brand experience that delivers value in a way that helps your customers and resolves their problems.  The first step is understanding what their problems are and to do that, you really need a dialogue and to be listening through social media. For every one miner who struck it rich in the gold rush there were 50 people who made good money selling shovels and picks.  The same can be said of the digital world where there are many great tools that allow you keep up with change.

And keeping pace is perhaps the biggest challenge there is.  That’s why we are completely focused on our expertise as a digital agency.  It’s only by being specialised that we stand a fighting chance of staying ahead of the curve.

As Charles Darwin said, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”