News and Trends

Digital first is the new normal

April 28, 2020 By: Michael Hanson

COVID-19 has changed the game for all of us – personally and professionally. There are moments in your life that create an opportunity to either embrace radical change or simply hope, pray, and wish that things go back to normal. While we may not always like it, adversity leads to excellence. It’s a key tenant of a free enterprise economy and is a pivotal moment for business continuity and growth.

This is proven by many organizations that transformed or came to life during periods of economic strife. In 2008, we saw the likes of Uber, Instagram, Venmo, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Slack, and Square rise to meet the opportunities presented by an evolving marketplace and consumer demand. Prior to that, current day stalwarts of the Fortune 500 like FedEx, Disney, and Microsoft began their meteoric trajectories during their respective economic transitions. 

Recent data from the US Dept of Commerce depicts a significant shift in spending and consumer demand, but additional analysis uncovers that it is indicative of both an attitudinal and behavioral shift in consumer expectations and desired experiences from organizations. Indeed our research found that customers are increasingly exhibiting more goal oriented behaviors as they are turning to digital channels.

March 2020 YoY percent change in product discovery behavior

March 2020 YoY product search behavior

Customers search more and navigate less.

Groceries and essential needs are still being purchased in store but are quickly becoming digital first purchases with delivery options. Recently we saw Whole Foods transforming some of their store locations to be fulfillment centers for online orders and delivery operations. Physical stores will continue to go dark in an effort to provide same day pickup as consumers focus on digital interactions as a primary means of brand engagement. New technology like routers, monitors, and even furniture for the home office is needed and purchased from the likes of Best Buy and Office Depot, but the new normal dictates no in store shopping or browsing but rather “curbside pick up” after a consideration and selection process on websites or apps. Target blazed the trail with last year’s nationwide roll out of Target Drive Up, which hinges on a digital first shopping experience fulfilled directly into your car (totally contactless by the way). What seemed like a “nice to have” has become a “need to have.” Digital transformation efforts may sometimes have a slow burn, but COVID-19 has rapidly increased the need to continuously assess and evolve to meet expectations.  Essentially – it is go time.

Check out my own experience with Target Drive Up

Digital interactions are no longer just top of the funnel or single digit percentage additions to reported revenue. A digital first approach is the new normal. Without a superior digital experience an organization has no business continuity nor means for a growth trajectory in this new normal. 

Your digital presence and experiences now could mean same day delivery, same day contactless engagement at a store for fulfillment, making an appointment for a banker interaction at a branch, configuring a car and having a dealer reach out to schedule your test drive, etc. The new normal requires a customer defined and quantified approach to maintaining and enhancing your digital experiences to meet rapidly evolving customer expectations. We call this Continuous Product Design.  

Continuous Product Design enables organizations to:

  • Align business and technical teams around a single version of truth
  • Proactively build better digital products much  faster
  • Drive agile business continuity and digital product growth 

You can learn more by downloading this ebook or by reaching out for a free consultation on how you can best digitally address the new normal.

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