thinkTribe recently hosted a Customer 1st / Digital 1st networking event in London alongside Tacit Knowledge and SAP. The event provided an opportunity for the people behind some of the country’s fastest-growing brands to talk about the power of partnership in the pursuit of digital growth and it was reassuring to hear that collaboration was a common theme among the day’s speakers.
While it’s tempting to look for a single, stand-out reason for a digital success story – a viral marketing campaign, for instance, or a relatable founder personality – the reality is often more nuanced. Adopting a customer-first approach in a modern retail eco-system will logically entail the development of a network of trusted collaborations to ensure that the path between product and customer is as smooth and obstacle-free as possible.
We’ve consistently found that when brands are engaging with customers online, the quality of the user experience is paramount. No amount of offline publicity or advertising can compensate for an underwhelming UX, and yet, as online engagement becomes more complex, it can be tricky to precisely map online performance to digital growth.
Speakers for innovative footwear brand FitFlop talked about the company’s trajectory over the last three years and how technology from SAP enabled its stratospheric digital growth. But this wasn’t a story about the tech, per se, but about a project that was driven by a collaborative mash-up of people, technology and data. Only by building close and honest relationships with internal and external partners was FitFlop empowered to achieve, and surpass, its goals.
At thinkTribe, we’ve pretty much built our business on these kinds of partnerships – an approach that was validated when a client on a recent retail project referred to us as ‘the best partner we have’; not ‘best supplier’ or best ‘tech provider’, but best partner. We’ll take that accolade any day of the week!
Obviously, any eCommerce business relies on the technology under the bonnet but a close and trusted partnership between the people who manage it – and are responsible for optimising performance – means that critical interventions, such as last-minute capacity testing, can be implemented quickly and efficiently.
Tacit speaker Jonathan Newman shrewdly commented that it’s when the vendor sees themselves as a supplier, rather than a partner, that problems begin – an observation underscored by a story that was shared during networking at the event. A retailer had added a third-party widget to their site to improve conversions but the predicted uplift in was hampered by sporadic low loading of the widget, which – had we not spotted it – would have led to disappointing results. Had the partnership between widget supplier and client been more developed, the performance issue may never have arisen.
As end-user shopping and activity data is increasingly being shared between retailers, brands and tech platforms (within GDPR guidelines, of course), so the risk of glitches capable of impacting the UX, including sluggish response times, broken buttons and incomplete searches, rises. But with increased collaboration between brands, retailers and tech providers, everyone – including the customer – will reap the rewards.