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Use the Customer Journey to Assess Your Brand’s “Digital Transformation Maturity”

connected store

As digital commerce grows and gains significance within the customer experience, research in the apparel market shows that 70% of all sales will be digital by 2025. With that much at stake, a retailers’ maturity along the digital transformation scale—and potential to transform operations and strengthen buyer engagement—will be essential to capturing market share in the months and years ahead.

A helpful way to assess a retailer’s digital maturity is to look at the customer journey in four stages. Evaluating the customer experience this way can inform the digital maturity benchmark and help identify areas for business improvement.

Research & Discovery

It all begins with the customer’s need for a product—even though they may not be aware of their need for, or of the benefits of, that product. Digital solutions at the research and discovery phase play an increasingly important role in educating consumers and inspiring buying behavior through targeted, compelling information. Consider these opportunities:

  • Can we simplify or accelerate product research and discovery for the customer (through recommendation engines or knowledgeable employees)?

  • Are we helping the customer understand product value by sharing information such as product overviews, demonstrations, expert reviews, or tips?

  • Can we facilitate the buying decision by providing visibility into inventory counts, customer ratings, pricing, or related services?

  • What tools might help customers learn and engage more? Can we deploy sizing tools, wish lists, digital associates or virtual renderings?

  • Does customer search data help to identify underlying needs or wants?

  • Can we make the discovery phase more engaging through virtual tours or special events?

  • Does relevant third-party content exist that might interest the customer?

  • How else might we encourage engagement, such as running contests or online polls?


Customers have endless buying options—from purchasing in the store, online, in mobile apps, or via social media channels, to ordering through TVs, by phone, or even from inside their cars. When it comes to assessing digital maturity and its relation to the ordering or buying process, consider these questions:

  • How can we minimize friction during ordering or buying? Can we use pre-filled forms, digital receipts, or one-click shopping?

  • What ordering capabilities do customers want from us? Do they need payment installment plans, subscription services, back-in-stock notifications, or delivery updates?

  • Can we increase customer confidence when they place orders, by improving cybersecurity or sending confirmation notices?

  • In addition to cash and credit, what other payment methods do our customers want and expect (PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and others)?


Often, the primary focus of the customer journey is during the early phases of the experience. Yet to earn new brand ambassadors, just as much attention should be given to what happens after the purchase is complete. Analyze how well technology supports your fulfillment efforts and goals in ways like these:

  • Are we able to easily enter incoming products from manufacturers and brands to the inventory or warehouse management system to support efficient fulfillment?

  • Do our customers expect or require contactless pick-up, same day delivery or curbside options?

  • Can we increase customer satisfaction? For example, do we have the infrastructure, like accurate real-time inventory and automated processes, to make fast shipping possible?

  • Can customers return goods across all channels, such as purchasing items in the store and returning them online or through the mobile app?

Customer Service

Every interaction with a customer is as an opportunity to either strengthen or diminish their brand perceptions. Rather than avoiding difficult or complex customer service situations, industry leaders seek ways to solve problems and transform them into positive experiences. To do this, consider digital’s role in delivering customer service with these questions:

  • How can we provide service and support proactively, such as deploying customer chat bots early in an online or mobile session?

  • Can we use video to improve instructional content or provide guidance with installation, operations, or troubleshooting?

  • Do we have a way to monitor, flag and respond to social media posts automatically, especially if they involve complaints?

  • How may we “surprise and delight” customers during an exchange?

  • What tools do our customers want to use to seek service? Do they prefer live chat, speaking on the phone, texting or an in-person or on-site visit?

  • Do we have metrics or data to help measure how well we’re doing with customer service and response times?

For the customer-centric retailer who asks the right questions, the four stages of the customer journey offer an ideal framework for assessing digital maturity. Ask yourself these questions to find out where your brand stands in its digital transformation, and help identify opportunities to boost engagement, sales and brand loyalty.


Will you be at NRF?

Join Hughes and Incisiv at the Big Ideas session and get a sneak peek into a new retail benchmarking report based on Incisiv’s analysis of the digital presence of leading apparel and footwear retailers in the US and Europe.

Monday, January 17, 2022 | 12:30 - 1:15 PM EST | Stage 1, Level 1



About the Author:

With a background in both engineering and human/organizational studies, Tim Tang has degrees on both sides of his brain. With over 20 years of professional experience in developing enterprise solutions, Tang is keenly interested in the intersection of technology and humanity. As a director at Hughes, Tang studies various enterprise markets (e.g. Restaurant, Retail, and Banking/Finance) to anticipate trends that will enable enterprise customers to fully unlock the business value of technology. Click here for more content from Tim.