How Retailers can use Digital Product Strategy to Improve CX and Fuel Growth

With the decline in high street spending and increased online competition from ecommerce stores, companies in the retail space need to be effectively innovating to keep up. One way for brick-and-mortar stores to stay ahead of the competition is to expand into digital product.

Since the pandemic, seven in 10 consumers have used mobile devices and apps for shopping, and it’s not just millennials and Gen Z; Gen X and baby boomers are 68% and 56% more likely, respectively, to use their mobile device to make purchases than they were a few years ago.

Over the last decade, retail brands like H&M, Zara and Urban Outfitters have anticipated this trend and launched apps to keep up with the ecommerce boom — a smart move considering it’s predicted that m-commerce (or mobile commerce) will account for 40.4% of ecommerce sales in 2024.

However, building an app isn’t a quick-fix solution. Only 40% of mobile browsing converts to a sale, and Klarna recently found that 35% of consumers feel overwhelmed by the number of shopping apps available, with 25% saying they would delete more than half of the shopping apps they use.


The real opportunity lies in using your digital product strategy as a way of improving the customer experience (CX) and finding new growth opportunities.

Use Existing Data and Research to Find New Revenue Streams

Launching a new revenue stream can be costly, risky and time-consuming. Our recent research showed that less than 10% of innovation leads to a product launch, so it’s unsurprising that a lot of businesses end up deprioritizing innovation.

But if you already have a digital product in market, you’re already collecting the first-party data that will tell you what your customers are searching for. No need to spend months commissioning research: you can easily find where potential new revenue streams might lie.

This is nothing new to retailers, which have long used big data to push new inventory and create more efficient supply chains. Take E.l.f. Cosmetics, which is using data to create personalized customer experiences, optimize their marketing and inform their product development — helping them stay ahead of the Gen Z curve.

Retail companies should look to the opportunities of real-time customer data when considering their digital product strategy.

Learn About Your Customer to Improve CX

Building a digital product — and the real-time data it provides — gives retailers the opportunity to create better customer experiences through personalization and new AI tools.

In such a saturated market, creating memorable experiences that make your company stand out is key. An app gives retailers an opportunity to learn even more about their consumers. Look at Asos, arguably an industry leader in online retail personalization. Asos uses an AI-based recommendation tool to improve the customer experience and retail efficiency and to drive growth. Customers are able to navigate its 100,000-item strong catalog via personal recommendations on the “For You” tab.

Skin Rocks took a similar approach. The overwhelming variables associated with finding the right skincare are made manageable with a filter functionality that helps users better direct their enquiries and save their preferences for future searches.

With less footfall in stores, AI personalization in digital products gives companies a new way to improve their customer experience.

Rethink Loyalty with Digital Experiences

Another way for brick-and-mortar businesses to improve their digital experiences is through loyalty, but businesses need to be smart when approaching this. The old points-based loyalty schemes are out: lest we forget, Asos shut down its own points program in 2018.

Retailers should look to innovation in the hospitality industry when considering launching a loyalty scheme. Take Ennismore, which recently launched its new loyalty platform “Dis-loyalty.” Tapping into the post-COVID consumer desire for adventure, Dis-loyalty helps consumers have new experiences by offering rewards for trying a hotel, restaurant or bar for the first time. With the launch of their new digital product, Ennismore has been able to deepen customer engagement.

Digital Product is More Than Just an App

While building an app is a smart way to unlock a new revenue stream as a brick-and-mortar business, the real value lies in unlocking new ways of working by helping legacy businesses focus on the behaviors and culture that will ensure they continue to successfully innovate.

If retail companies can build a digital product and establish effective product processes along the way, they will undergo a transformation and gain a competitive advantage.

CJ Daniel-Nield is the Founder of Planes, a digital product studio in London launching product businesses for startups, scale-ups and large organizations. Daniel-Nield started Planes with a simple belief: every successful business starts with an experiment. Since then, Planes has partnered with organizations including Skin Rocks to launch their “App of the Day” industry-first skincare app by Caroline Hirons. Alongside his role at Planes, Daniel-Nield is an advisor for startups and an occasional angel investor.

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