How to Reinvent Your Digital Business
The following is a guest commentary from Michael Ni, CMO and SVP of products at Avangate
Most service providers and businesses think that it’s easy to sell online. You build a website, add a payment processor and now you’re officially a “digital business,” enabling you to make millions from online consumers.
To become a true digital business, you need to consider whether your current online business model allows you to adjust to new buyer preferences and purchasing habits.
As many businesses look to readjust and strategize for the New Year, they should consider the role that a full digital commerce strategy plays in their business. Here are three tips for entrepreneurs, startups and even traditional businesses looking to go digital in 2015. And even if you’re thinking “but I’m already digital,” these three pieces of advice will offer you ways to reinvent your business model and support the expectations of sophisticated online buyers:
1. Readjust Your Digital Lens: Monetary Value is Shifting to Services
To fully grasp what today’s digital business model should look like, you first need to understand where you can create the most value for your customer – and where this value is originating. The idea of the “traditional product” is evolving – products are now an excuse to sell online services, even as online services are fast productizing. Services are also being increasingly packaged and sold. Consider this: Uber first started with its traditional Uber and black car features, and then easily added Uber X to make it easy to order and trust. Uber’s valuation reflects its ability to package new services atop its platform.
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2. Turn on the Charm: Customers Crave Engagement
The ability to quickly adjust to new customer preferences and meet their demands starts with personalized, consistent engagement (Uber is another good example of this). Essentially, in order to derive new revenue streams and retain your customers, you need to play on their terms. Customers want options to experiment, try-before-they-buy, and have the ability to add on new features and services at any time, such as 30-day free trials on Netflix and paying more for access to more channels on Hulu Plus versus the standard Hulu account.
3. Embrace Business/Buyer Symbiosis: The Secret is a Long-Term Relationship
Today’s hyper-informed online buyers are in more control than ever before. They find out about an online business or service from various channel partners, affiliates, social media, mobile searches (or any combination of the above), and they arrive by any number of these sources. There are countless new channels where people can interact with a company’s content and, ultimately, make purchases. However, a purchase is now more than just a one-time transaction. Businesses need to earn the right to monetize the relationship with their customers and prospective buyers. This starts by ensuring a customer has options to grow with your business and that they are in control of their purchasing decisions, subscription preferences, payment options, etc. You can no longer rely on just payment processors to support the entire customer journey. Now, you need to engage, track and communicate with customers throughout every stage of the purchasing journey – from initial purchase to growth and retention.
To effectively reinvent your digital business and take advantage of the vast online population, you need to be able to get to market quickly, adjust your business model on the fly and offer customers options to experiment and test, both locally and internationally. Adopting an integrated commerce strategy in 2015 will help you to rethink your digital business and truly understand your customers – enabling you to see who’s buying from you, when and where a buyer interacts with what information, and how to best prompt a purchase. Proactively influencing customers before, during and after the initial purchasing cycle is a key differentiator of successful, high-growth companies.