As the number of available digital marketing platforms multiplies, selecting the most appropriate software to address challenges has become a complex conundrum for the executives charged with selecting one.

Here, Greg Ng, vice president of digital engagement at PointSource — a digital agency that specializes in everything from audience engagement to personalization — distinguishes five steps to discerning the best match.

1. Reviewing Available Platforms: In order to accurately evaluate pain points, retailers need to identify the ideal customer journey. If you haven’t mapped out how you want the customer to behave and interact with the brand, you shouldn’t even be having the conversation about technology yet.

Many retailers are guilty of spending a lot of money on the technology side of the business in pursuit of the next shiny thing without considering how it will affect the brand side. This is a dangerous use of financial and time resources. By mapping out the ideal customer journey, retailers can evaluate the holistic impact of their investment, making sure that the technology aligns with the business goals and supports a seamless user experience.

2. Optimizing Consumer Data:

Qualitative feedback across customer touch points is extremely helpful in an increasingly omnichannel commerce environment. One in five retailers report that their organization does not do enough in-person research to understand its audience. While qualitative feedback may seem time-consuming or expensive, and can be a challenge with the quarter-to-quarter nature of the retail industry, this feedback is worth the effort.

One way to source qualitative feedback at the customer service and product level is through test groups, product reviews and customer surveys. This type of research is typically much more objective and can be a direct line into the customer’s thinking, helping retailers discover opportunities for growth and areas of weakness.

3. Opportunity, Influence, Relevance:

Opportunity: Many organizations fall into a trap of making tech decisions solely based on the feature it enables with very little context to how it fits into the vision of the customer experience. Chief marketing officers should fully map the ideal customer experience first and then overlay their existing experience on top. This will clearly reveal the gaps in delivering that ideal experience and those opportunities can be realized.

Influence: Once those opportunities are uncovered, cmo’s should evaluate technologies and prioritize implementation based on how it will contribute to their goals. If implementing the technology is not influential in achieving their goals, it should get de-prioritized.

Relevance: From traditional commerce to mobile, location-based to machine-learning personalization, each new touch point needs to be relevant for that particular interaction. Consumers expect a user experience that is seamless, yet contextualized. New technologies may be the thing everyone talks about, but it may not be relevant to your consumers.

4. Enforcing change management: For change management to happen, the c-suite has to buy-in. Our clients have the most success when the chief executive officer sets the vision and helps push the company toward it, establishing a top-down approach to innovation. This helps create an environment where every person can contribute ideas. Each idea is then evaluated to ensure that it aligns with the company’s vision, supports the ideal customer journey and will support the overall goals.

5. Tech isn’t a fix-all: Technology isn’t a fix-all because trying to achieve a quick fix with a digital solution is only going to compound the problem later. Tech is reliant on fit, which means it requires deeper research. It’s dangerous for brands to spend a lot of money without first exploring the solution enough to determine if it fits into the company’s goals and vision. It’s vital that companies go through the process of identifying and prioritizing their needs in order to avoid making the wrong investment. Slow down to evaluate the company’s pain points before opting for a quick fix.

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