Bluegrass Digital managing director Nick Durrant. Photo: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG – Accept it or not but there's a new business model called "always on, always available", a strategic shift if you want to enter the global marketplace. It's definitely not business as usual, the shift to the cloud is more dramatic than ever.

To compete on the global stage, today's businesses have to be open around the clock 365 days a year. Internet has accelerated the pace of change, customers want to buy what they want, when they want, regardless of location.

In order to remain competitive, businesses need to modernise their ordering systems by taking the processes online. Retailers must optimise and streamline their supply chain and decrease the lag between order and delivery. They must also build convenience into their offering by providing remote services.

The new globalised market now also offers customers increased choice of suppliers and this means businesses have to fight harder than ever to capture a piece of the market. This is a highly competitive market, modern omnichannel retailers are now even deploying 'click-and-collect' type services, allowing shoppers to order online and collect at their nearest store.

So it is critical for businesses to offer visitors the right content at the right time based on individual behaviours and preferences. This is where data becomes important, trigger messages based on customer behaviour on the website like product interest.

Retailers need to compile visitor data according to profiles, journeys, personas or segments. Also, they must use behavioural data and personal details in their marketing campaigns.

Personalisation is therefore a key differentiator for online businesses, it gives them that slight edge. It also helps to build customised offers for clients using previous purchase history, an essential requirement for successful digital marketing.

Customer intelligence products provide retailers with insights about their customers and their preferences to create personalised offers. Tailored deals can be delivered to the customer in real time on the website.

Modern eCommerce websites use visitor behaviour to autonomously create and optimise individual content and product views for every visitor, every time. Personalisation helps achieve a superior customer experience and increased visitor engagement.

A visitor intelligence product like Episerver Insight empowers companies to both collect and visualise anything from personal details and preferences to transaction history, attributes and classifications, and the multichannel customer journey.

It creates actionable insights with powerful behavioural intelligence and clickstream tracking. It’s easy to compile data on your visitors if you have the right tools in place. But how many companies are actually using that data to effectively increase engagement with customers.

Retailers and service providers cannot continue with business as usual, they need to become 'always on, always available' or they will quickly lose market share. Changing customer demands and new economic models require all businesses to be always accessible and instantly reachable.

Nick Durrant is managing director Bluegrass Digital. The views expressed here are his own.

BUSINESS REPORT