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The Art of the Possible: Digital Masters

Evolution of USA Retail is the leading private label supplier of batteries (beating Duracell) and 3rd largest supplier of baby wipes (almost catching up with Huggies and Pampers).  Mary Meeker, Internet Report 2017

E-commerce is growing at 15% YoY.  We are right now in the middle of one of the biggest, most profound digital disintermediation in business especially retail.  What makes it challenging to execute is that there is no “one size fits all strategy.” if anyone claims they have the answers, they are probably exaggerating.

Every company in the world is going through some form of digital transformation.

Seismic shifts are putting customers in control. As a result, there are many variants of digital:

  • Digital add-ons to existing analog business
  • Pure-play digital – Digital First
  • Seamless consumer experience across web, mobile, physical channels
  • Subscription stores with deeply personalized digital relationships
  • Mass-customization of content and products
  • Augmented Reality Experiences to complement retail experiences (e.g., Lowes)

CONVENIENCE and VALUE matter most to customers.  Digital is all about enabling corporations to leverage the power of new technologies to create new sources of value. However, most organizations are still grappling with digital basics or addressing technical debt that has accumulated.  But some leading edge firms (or digital masters) have figured out how to adapt to the fast arriving digital future.

So, who are these digital leaders and what are they doing to attract and retain customer attention?

  • In content… National Geographic is considered a digital pioneer.  Others like New York Times, Financial Times, Time are innovating with metered paywall technology across many of their properties. Their objective is to drive anonymous visitors to become registered users and convert into brand product purchasers.
  • In retail…, Walmart, Target, Apple and Starbucks  are often cited as digital masters, due to the significant investments they are seen to have already made both financially and in dedicated resources.
  • In pharmacy… Walgreens is a digital master across different properties –,,, (Cosmeceuticals), VisionDirect (Optical).
  • In CPG manufacturing…. P&G, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever and are often cited as digital center of excellence leaders,  allocating only shared resources to social marketing and e-commerce.
  • In industrial… firms like GE, Caterpillar, John Deere are also considered digital leaders.  They are leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) to create novel experiences.

But, how are some other companies approaching digital customer experience and engagement? This is a very critical strategic issue as the average consumer spends more time on technology than sleep or eat. How firms grab this consumer attention will be key for future growth.

Retail Digital

Source: Wal-mart Labs

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