Six Digital Disrupters & What We Can Learn From Them

Remember in grade school studying the industrial revolution, and how that changed the world? Learning about when Gutenberg invented the printing press and that it enabled faster distribution of information? That one device triggered an entire social shift.

Today we are still early in an age of a transformation that stands to be even greater in magnitude than the industrial revolution.  The Digital Revolution.  The emergence of the internet generated an initial shift significantly increasing the speed of information. Then the launch of the iPhone in 2007 put the power of the internet in all of our palms anywhere, any time. It’s a landmark increase in the access to instant information, commerce, and now connection to our cars, homes, and eventually every aspect of our lives.  Right now, every sector of business is a part of this transition and fundamentally everything we do will be more digital as part of this transition.

In the transition, there are businesses that will have vision and lead pioneering disruptions of industries creating highly successful digital models.  There are others that will adapt and thrive.  And there are businesses that will stagnate and eventually become obsolete.

Here are some early movers that have successfully re-envisioned the customer experience in their industry.  Whether you’re looking to upend the digital customer experience in your industry or simply evolve and raise the bar, here are some things that they’ve done and some takeaways that can help you with your journey in this transition.

Uber

Uber came into an industry that had been doing the same thing the same way for a hundred years. They rethought the experience from the lens of a contemporary connected consumer. Additionally, they provided everyday people the opportunity to work when and where they want. Everything Digital.  Very simple.

Takeaway:

  • Grossly simplify the customer experience and make them digital to differentiate you from your competition.  It will make your customer experience feel progressive and your competitors customer experience feel like dinosaurs.

 

Tesla

Tesla came into an industry that had been doing the same thing the same way for a hundred years. They rethought the experience from a contemporary connected consumer’s perspective. Rather than follow industry norms, Tesla took away the hassles of dealing with a car salesman and made the buying / customizing process digital. Furthermore, they made their product 10x more digital than the competition. The company has a clear, defined cause to lead the transition to everyone driving EV’s for a better planet. Their product design goes beyond functional to cool and beautiful. Powered by their digital-first approach, they went direct to the consumer, cutting out the middleman / dealership model. No sales staff hassles, eco-friendly, and cool, beautiful product designs coupled with the digital-first approach propelled Tesla to success.

Takeaway:

  • Go direct to consumer
  • Build an optimal end-to-end digital customer experience
  • Digitally enable your product
  • Make it cool!

 

Amazon

With their early success of selling books, Amazon effectively scaled to one of the largest and most influential online marketplaces, the preeminent online retail giant. They simplified the ordering process for customers with stored payment information, prime shipping, behavior based product recommendations, and more. They invested for a long time in infrastructure. Amazon leads the digital landscape in personalization. Rather than looking at customer segments, they focus on a building a 1:1 relationship with customers, tailoring the customer’s experience to be personalized the that individual. Now Amazon is building an ecosystem to offer more complimentary services (digital books, music, tv shows, and more) with the personalized simplicity we have grown to know and love from them.

Takeaway:
  • Personalize
  • Simplify
  • Build the infrastructure for optimal customer experience
  • Once you’ve laid the foundation, build an ecosystem of products that connect and give more value for being a customer with your brand.  One stop shop.   

 

Warby Parker

Warby Parker entered an industry that had been doing the same thing the same way for far too long. Frustrated with the cost of prescription eyewear, Warby Parker embarked upon their mission to deliver attractive, high quality eyewear at affordable prices. They rejected the status quo of one company controlling the supply of designer eyewear that kept prices artificially high and sold through retailers with their own markups. Warby Parker went digital to deal directly with the consumers, passing along the savings by cutting out the middleman retailers. Their at home try-on process is unprecedented in the industry - They ship you several glasses so you can try them on and then you return the frames you don’t want.   Additionally, they are a B Corp with community and environmental responsibility at their core. They take care of their workers and help those in need by donating matching funds for every pair of glasses sold.

Takeaway:
  • All online
  • Try on at home and return
  • Go directly to the consumer
  • Make the product cool
  • Affordable
  • Socially responsible 

 

Casper 

Casper mattresses flipped over the mattress industry when they broke onto the scene. Deciding that $2000 was far too much for a mattress, Casper sought to overhaul an industry dominated by decades-old legacy brands. These brands have an overwhelming number of sub-brands and lines that are regionally divided and only available through a showroom. Casper simplified the whole buying process by keeping it all online and developing a product that meets the sleep needs of nearly everyone. Free delivery and returns with a 100 day trial period lets the consumer put the product through its paces without risk. Not only are the mattresses less expensive without the middleman, they are also constructed of less expensive material that is just as durable, passing along even more savings to the consumer. Additionally, the foam mattress system is less cumbersome to maneuver and springs back to proper form after bending and rolling.

Takeaway:
  • Simplify
  • All online
  • Go direct to the consumer
  • Affordable
  • Free shipping and returns
  • One product that works for everyone
  • Cut out the middleman and hassles of sales staff watching you lay on mattresses

 

Patagonia

We are calling out Patagonia here, not because of how they’ve reenvisioned the customer transaction experience, but instead how they’ve reenvisioned brand storytelling for the digital era. Today people use digital to engage, learn, and fall in love with the brands they love. Patagonia built out a deep set of digital content and are constantly adding to their digital footprint with stories that captivate and engage their audience. Captivating stories of athletes and ambassadors featuring captivating imagery, give-back initiatives, and positive social actions thrive on the digital platform, making their customers feel a part of something bigger.

Takeaway:
  • Create inspiring content
  • Look for ways to incorporate give-back marketing
  • Consistently create new, fresh stories
  • Stay true and consistent to your core values, over time it defines your brand in the eyes of your customers

In your journey to navigate the digital revolution, you’ll have to find the strategies that are right for your brand, products, services, and market segment.  Good luck.  Be daring, be brave!

 

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