“Invest in the digital skills within your own company”
by Julia Pott (exclusively for EuroCIS.mag)
Digitization is progressing inexorably but presents a challenge for some companies. However, you don’t have to be an expert to create a step-by-step roadmap for your company’s digital transformation to stay competitive.
As Managing Director Retail at Google Germany, Dr. Jannika Bock is responsible for collaborating with retailers and helping them with their digital strategies. We asked her how retailers can implement digital transformation and to share her tips for retailers.
Ms. Bock, you are in direct interaction with retailers. What is the status quo of Germany’s brick-and-mortar retail sector as it pertains to digital transformation?
Five years ago, the retail industry started being confronted with digital offers and omnichannel services. Back then, companies frequently asked themselves whether they should embrace these options.
Today we are at the point where the only question is: “How do we make it happen?”
The acceleration of digitization as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely forced the issue. Over the past two years, many retailers have been working with urgency to expand their digital presence. Whether it’s small retailers who have one store somewhere in the city, large companies with a multitude of retail outlets or pure players: They have all advanced their digital strategies and are now – hopefully post-pandemic – building a solid footing in this setting.
What are the keys to digital transformation in the retail industry? How can retailers master this task successfully?
The first step is for retailers to ensure online visibility. All your brick-and-mortar services – information about your store, locations, contact information and store hours – must be accessible in the digital realm.
And vice versa: brick-and-mortar retailers must integrate the online store as well. If I visit a shop and cannot find a desired product, I need to be made aware that I can purchase the item from your online store instead.
The second step requires building a seamless offline-to-online customer experience. This means that as a consumer, I can check product availability before visiting the store. Or that I can order my favorite item online and then pick it up at the store and have the option of returning online orders in-store. There are a multitude of other conceivable services.
The third step pertains to communication: Every retail touchpoint must be fluid and seamless for customers across all channels. As a repeat customer, I don’t want to feel like I have to communicate my preferences and repeat purchases every time I make contact. Retailers should know and understand the interests and habits of their customers.
In my view, these are the three main areas of digital transformation and three steps to reaching omnichannel excellence. Most retailers – even the best in the business – still have room for improvement.
Where can retailers get help to manage a digital transformation successfully?
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we teamed up with the German Retail Association (HDE) and launched the “ZukunftHandel” initiative to empower retailers of all sizes to digitize their business processes and create digital opportunities. All parties involved received great feedback for this.
There are tools to help expedite digitization efforts such as completing your business profile on Google and making opening hours and contact information visible online. Users can also find support with online marketing or search engine optimization.
My tip for retailers: Invest in the skills of your workforce and build digital skills within your own company. In collaboration with HDE, IHKs (CCIs) and others, we offer the amazing Google Digital Workshop (German: Google Zukunftswerkstatt): Users will find a multitude of free training courses that teach concepts such as online marketing, data protection, cybersecurity, and other digital skills.