Delight Your Customers And Future-Proof Your Brand


What does a future-proof retail strategy look like? How can you implement one successfully in your organisation in the face of changing customer expectations?

Digital transformation will be absolutely crucial to the success of retail organisations over the next decade. Those that successfully integrate a first-class digital experience with the brand awareness potential offered by physical stores are set to stand out in a big way.

We recently spoke to Warren Hayashi (APAC President of payments platform Adyen) and Jheeva Subramanian (CFO, department store BHG Singapore) about the potential digital transformation offers to delight your customers, and how to foster a company culture that makes these innovations achievable. 

The sessions were part of the Digital Transformation & Leadership podcasts, which you can tune in here:

Part 1: Retail digital transformation - How to delight your buyers and future proof your brand

Part 2: Agile and resilient leadership – How to develop a brilliant culture

Alternatively, read on for a summary of the key talking points.

Customers Want More Flexibility Than Ever Before

Your customers have more say than ever in when and how they pay. Contactless is now the norm across South East Asia, and there’s growing consumer interest in QR codes and mobile payment links, alongside an ever-expanding number of digital wallet solutions.

(source: Mobile Payments World)

This is part of a wider trend brought on by the accessibility of e-commerce sites for the consumer. Previously, retailers could rely on a prime store location and the inconvenience of making a trip elsewhere to maintain a customer base. Customers can now dictate what they see, when they made their purchase and how they paid. E-commerce – and the diversity of options and payment methods that come with it – has flipped the traditional model on its head.

This means that you have to consider a customer experience that starts and ends outside of your physical stores,Warren explains. “What this means is that you now have to consider where the experience starts. It's no longer just location, location, location. It's really about what the consumer wants. The whole foundation of the location of the store has been ripped up”

Seamless Digital Experiences and the Importance of Standing Out

Thanks to the amount of competition online, customers are demanding an ever more seamless end-to-end customer journey with flexible payment options. If your customers can’t make a purchase in as few clicks or taps as possible, you’ll lose them. Your nearest competitors are fractions of seconds away, after all.

These trends have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown, but look to continue even as the world adapts to the ‘new normal’. Around 70% of Singaporean consumers are continuing to buy groceries and shop online even after stores reopen, Warren says, so offering the easiest customer journey possible offers the potential for significant rewards.

Digital Transformation Is an Omnichannel Strategy

Whilst e-Commerce is experiencing an unprecedented boom right now, driven by the Coronavirus pandemic, the most successful digital transformations go beyond creating an online shop front.

Consumers like the convenience online shopping offers, but don’t necessarily see it as a replacement for physical store locations. This was something Warren was keen to emphasize, with 2019 research from Adyen suggesting that over 50% of millennials still view stores as an essential part of their shopping experience.

Rather than simply investing in online operations, the path to true digital transformation lies in an unified commercial approach: how can you use new technologies to enhance the customer experience your physical store locations offer, and vice versa?

Selling Experiences Not Products: How Nike Uses Connected Experiences In-Store

For a real-world example, take a look at how Nike set up its flagship ‘House Of Innovation’ store locations.

Shopping is app-enabled, so customers can scan products to try or buy as they browse – and these will be waiting for them at the checkout or the fitting room when they’re ready. There’s a customisation shop, the option to order out-of-stock sizes via tablet. It’s a slick, seamless blend of online and offline customer experience.

That’s not all, however. Innovations like the in-store basketball court, and the Nike Arena where athletes and specialists talk about brand innovations and new launches, create a space designed to engage customers with the brand.

As Jheeva describes, it’s all about setting up your store locations as a kind of showroom:

“I feel physical stores are now becoming very important to acquire customers because that's where they see the brand. You got to talk about the brand. You’ve got to make them love the brand.”

Physical stores are “becoming media” for online sales, he continues. The experience you offer your customers online and offline should reflect this.

To Optimise CX, You Need the Right Tools for the Data You Gather

How you collect, process and use data will be essential in a successful digital transformation that will both delight your customers and set your brand up for future success.

The technologies you might use to enhance your customers’ in-store experience (for example, QR codes, cashless payments) generate significant amounts of data. If you have the capacity to process this, a whole host of personalisation and customer targeting options become available.

The issue at the moment is not just that there is a huge amount of data to process. The problem is that it’s siloed across different systems. If your point of sale software isn’t connected to your CRM, or your shop floor heat map data can’t be integrated with other insights, it’s difficult to use it to its full potential.

Prioritise Backend Connectivity

If you’re investing in new retail technologies, or want to implement new concepts like endless aisles, your backend infrastructure is just as important the object your customers interact with, Jheeva explains:

“The data that we collect has to be easily accessible to predict personalization. What sort of launches or products could we offer them that they would like?"

“Rather than offering customers just the same as what we offer everyone else, we can offer a much more personalized service. And to do that, you need a system back that can collect and process the data collected your front end technology.”

Lead from the Front to Future-Proof Your Company Culture

A successful digital transformation project requires adaptability, openness and a willingness on the part of leaders to listen to new ideas from all areas of the organisation.

Senior board members are instrumental in instilling an open, flexible company culture. As the most visible members of an organisation, they’re in a uniquely influential position over hiring policy, setting procedural norms and embodying the culture they would like their employees to maintain.

Agility Is Essential

Warren emphasizes the importance of both hiring quick thinkers and creating processes that enable fast decision-making. Why? Because fostering an environment where future-focused ideas can thrive is crucial for long-term success.

“We're moving in such a fast-paced environment and we need people that are agile” he says.

“We pick up the phone over sending emails. We constantly ask ourselves ‘How do we accelerate our execution?’ If we pick up the phone and ask the questions or tap someone on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, what do you think?’ we can make decisions much faster without having large meetings.”

It’s all about giving your teams the permission and the confidence to make decisions without going through an unhelpful, cumbersome sign-off process each time. A truly future-proof brand is one that can keep evolving as customer expectations change, and your company culture should absolutely reflect that.

A Few Final Thoughts

Flexibility and agility will be essential ingredients in both delighting your customers and shoring up your retail brand for future developments.

  • Can you adapt to changing shopping patterns and evolving preferences to offer customers an engaging experience, whether in-store or online? 
  • Is your backend integrated enough to take advantage of the data processing and personalisation options now available? 
  • Do you have a company culture that encourages idea sharing and prioritises agile decision-making?

These are the questions you should be asking yourself if you want a successful digital transformation of your brand.

It’s also important to think of your physical stores as an intrinsically important element of your digital strategy. Whilst people might prefer to order online, experiencing a product in real life before making a purchase decision is an essential process for many consumers. Brands that can integrate an interactive in-store experience with the convenience of online ordering and home delivery are set to stand out from the crowd.

Listen to the full edition of the Digital Transformation and Leadership Podcast now

This edition is brought to you in partnership with Adyen 

Adyen is the payments platform of choice for many the world’s leading companies, providing a modern end-to-end infrastructure connecting directly to Visa, Mastercard, and consumers' globally preferred payment methods. Adyen delivers frictionless payments across online, mobile, and in-store channels. With offices across the world, Adyen serves customers including Facebook, Uber, Spotify, Cathay Pacific, Grab, Klook, Lorna Jane,, and Showpo.


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