A lot has been written about the huge gains in digital services brought about by the lockdowns necessitated by COVID-19. These advances bring with them certain pressures. Chief among them is a renewed need to do more for less.
At least since the financial crisis of the late 2000s, most businesses have had some sort of more for less agenda. Business leaders have sought efficiency gains through better targeting their marketing spend, automating processes and reducing their cost base.
The big shift to digital seen in the past year will put further pressure on reducing cost. It comes in two forms. The first will be finding the savings to fund the cost of building out and continually improving the infrastructure needed to maintain that shift to online sales. Many companies will have scaled their digital systems through a combination of ingenuity and sticky tape. They now need to properly build those systems and make them secure and reliable. They need to do so quickly. It will not be cheap.
The second bit of pressure will come in the form of simplification. Customers do not necessarily love buying things online. They do, however, value convenience. Some insurance companies ask tons of questions, some retailers charge for returns, and some banks require you to go to the branch before you can transact online. These companies know they need to catch up to competitors who offer simpler purchase journeys. It is an absolute priority. Customers know it’s possible to order a takeaway in just a couple of clicks. They can check out from Amazon in just a click.
Simplicity is the battleground on which ecommerce will be won. Companies will need to invest to deliver the convenience needed to win in their markets. And again, this investment will need to be funded somehow. Some of that will have to come from savings. We’ve already seen this with the likes of John Lewis closing stores and Thorntons moving to online-only.
So, as budget holder, if you’ve scratched around for savings and efficiencies for the last decade be prepared to carry that search forward through the next one.