Posted: Friday 18th December 2020 in Performance Marketing.

Hands up if you have heard of a British retailer embarking on a ‘Digital Transformation’? Hands up who can actually explain what a ‘Digital Transformation’ is? I’m in the same boat – confused! 

After some basic desk research, I’ve got this far; digital transformation involves being in the industry press. A lot (no doubt reassuring for shareholders). Hiring a bunch of people with ‘Digital’ or ‘Transformation’ in their title (even better if they have both ‘Digital’ and ‘Transformation’, this is especially telling). And of course, shutting stores. You can’t have a ‘Digital Transformation’ without the necessary by-product of store closures… sorry stores (and all the people who work in them!), it doesn’t seem possible to ‘Transform’ while you’re open.

It was a good start, but I needed to take my research one step further and went to the best of the best on the topic of ‘Digital Transformation’. Gartner, Deloitte and Sales Force are Digital Transformers on a Global scale. I’m not going to cut and paste their definitions word for word (I do want you to keep reading after all!) but needless to say there was more than just a hint of jargon including phrases such as ‘cloud computing’, ‘digital enterprises’ and ‘technologies’. We can all pretend we are an IT wizard for the day.

As a part time blogger, I appreciate I’m going a bit overboard on this – if you’ve read this far you’re likely going to agree the topic is confusing, murky and potentially expensive (especially if you look at the day rates of some subject matter experts offering to ‘help’). But it doesn’t have to be.

At Summit we pride ourselves on making the complex simple and transparent – so I asked a few Summiteers who have transformed retailers and have scars to prove it: “in your experience how would you explain digital transformation to a child?”. The answer that came back was incredibly simple:

Do the stuff that customers love, online.


Are you sure?

And the stores… they can stay?

If it’s that simple, why does no one just say that? (Whispering to my colleagues – “are we not going to sound a bit thick compared to our industry competitors?”)

Who does it well?

The more I thought about it, the more I thought they were right. But could they prove it? Could they put together a best in class set of examples from across Summit’s clients as well as the whole of retail, proving Digital Transformation is ‘doing the stuff your customers love, online’? Could we convince the world of this opinion?

So I unveil the Summit Media best in class Digital Transformations. Retailers ‘doing the stuff your customers love, online’!

The ‘Know Your Customer Award’ – Aldi UK: Bringing the magic of the middle aisle (Specials Buys) online. It’s not curated like other eCommerce sites; it’s curated like the middle aisle of the shop. Knowing customers don’t always know what they want and are unlikely to search elsewhere, Aldi have perfectly replicated their in-store model.

The ‘Covid Ain’t Going to Stop Us’ Award – Selfridges: Famed for their Christmas window displays, Selfridges are leading the way with online inspiration and content that feels just like you’re walking down Oxford Street

The ‘My Customers Are Different’ Award – Pandora: And they’re right. Their customers expect one-on-one service and to be able to trial a range of options. Virtual try-on and live advice eliminates the need to go in-store and they are the first retailer we’ve seen to use AR in a way that encourages scale and replicates the in-store experience

The ‘Trust Is Everything’ Award – Clarks: Famed after more than a hundred years of fitting kids shoes in person, Clarkes pivoted online, combining sales of their famous foot measurer with the best ‘how-to’ guide on the market, ensuring customers still buy their brand with confidence

The ‘Trail Blazer’ Award – Argos: One of the first high street brands in the UK to understand the change in customer behaviour. Argos scaled down their notorious paper catalogues over a number of years and seamlessly scaled up their pay per click advertising to an eCommerce solution so 70% of their business was already online when the Pandemic hit

The ‘Home Is Where the Heart is’ Award – Joules: Began selling wellies in rural market communities before recreating the ‘countryside living’ lifestyle appeal online with the ‘Friends of Joules’ community platform. They may not trade in the market anymore but they can certainly bring like-minded communities together.

The ‘Recycle Clothes Not Customers’ Award – H&M: Moving from paper loyalty rewards in return for recycling old clothes to a full online loyalty platform rewarding both shopping behaviour and environmental behaviour

So, there you have it – the Summit ‘Digital Transformation’ Awards. The retailers that do the stuff that customers love, online better than anyone else.

The formula for success

If there is one final thing to note on this topic, it’s the secret formula for success. Quite easy really – track, measure, research and survey your customers to understand what drives their behaviour.

See if you can answer our five simple ‘Digital Transformation’ questions to find out if you’re ready and prepared to take on the next stage of your digital transformation…

  1. What triggers the customer mission and brand choice?
  2. What marketing channels and content are driving purchase intent?
  3. What experiences are most important to customers in your market?
  4. What is the value of each touchpoint to the sale and customer life cycle?
  5. What are the loyalty drivers for customers in your market?

If you can answer these questions, you’ll have a good idea what to do next.

You now know the Summit perspective on ‘Digital Transformation’, and you know where we are if you need our help!