As we step into the digital world, it is all about convenience and accessibility.

Customers love to do their shopping in a comfortable and flexible environment. Organisations that are ahead of time know that their customers need not to worry about closing times. The business hours have shifted from 8-5pm and business today is being done at all times and any time of the day

Companies fluent in the digital way of operations know that if you snooze you lose.

Sometimes shopping for some things may come at the spur of the moment and the customer may want to do the shopping at that exact time that the thought has crossed the mind. Interestingly, at the snap of a finger that dream purchase can be done, thanks to technology.

Time is no longer a limiting factor in the new normal. Want to do a banking transaction at 3am? No worries, with internet banking it is quite possible. Craving for pizza in the dead of the night, dial-a-delivery is there for you! Missed a lecture? It is still okay, one can join an online class.

That is life made easy.

Gone are the days when physical presence mattered more, today the power of technology has disrupted the old normal way of transacting. The ubiquity of technology is simplifying the life of a customer’s shopping journey.

With the current pandemic limiting physical human interactions, technology is ushering in a new form of interactivity. Organisations are working day-in and day -to flatten the physical interaction curve. Why expose yourself to the Covid-19 virus when you can replace the physical interactions with digital interactivity and still make money?

Total lockdowns were a wake-up call to most businesses who were not prepared for this eventuality. They quickly invested in online shops. The slow ones had sales dropping, retrenched their workers and some even closed shop.

For the clever ones, it is business as usual.

The new rules of “social distancing” and “stay at home”, means the number of customers who are likely to physically visit the organisation is also diminishing. Customers are migrating to online services. The craziness of waiting in meandering and nauseating queues is slowly becoming to an end.

It is magnificent how digital marketing have turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the ultimate customer shopping experience. Customers do not need to deal with awful attitudes anymore.

It is, however, one thing to be present on the online platforms and another thing being active on those platforms. Opening pages and posting pictures and videos of your products and services is not enough. When customers visit these pages, they want to engage with the company and not just watch pictures and videos.

If a customer decides to order a technical but complex product in the “o” dark thirty’ hour, it is their desire and expectation that they will be assisted at that particular moment. Organisations must know that it is the response time that will separate chaff from wheat. Modern customers are impatient when they register an issue with an organisation. Thus, organisations that respond quickly aid in their customer satisfaction.

Opening an official organisation page that lacks proper maintenance, does not make sense. Accessibility means someone is managing and providing relevant information at the right time always.

It is crucial for organisations to introspect and make a commitment to always be there for the impatient customer who want an answer as soon as possible. Organisations need to have 24/7 assistants who are always there to assist customers. These assistants are usually team members that are available any time of the day for the shopping convenience of its customers.

It is with sadness that in this 21st century, Zimbabwe still has companies that produce quality products and service but are not accessible on the digital map. Accessibility is key. If digital marketing is making shopping easy then our local companies should up their game and compete globally.

Registering a displeasure, offering a suggestion or even asking for tips or quotations should always receive full attention from the organistion at the shortest possible time. Customers love attention if they are to patronise an organisation. The companies that pop up when one search for a product will likely get the order.

The chat functionality is also another suitable method that has enabled easy shopping. Remember even when customers are doing their virtual shopping, they want to feel like there is a shop assistant by the side just in case they need his/her services.

The chat helps the customer to feel like they can access what they want to purchase wherever they are at any time of the day because they assist whenever a customer asks for help.

Support teams should be providing accessibility that is beyond 24/7 availability. Chats and emails should be responded to as often as possible. Considerations must also be made to physically challenged customers when it comes to accessibility.

That means the organisation’s online infrastructure must make sure that it caters for the blind, the deaf and dumb and any other customer that has physical impairments so that their shopping experience is as enjoyable as that of any other customer.

Options include clear navigations, use of text colour when dealing with people who are colour blind, the deaf can make use of video transcripts while the dumb use text to speech.

The digital world has cascaded changes and revolutionised the old mode of operating. Complex products are being easily converted into 3D for the appreciation of customers. That is the virtual reality of the new age.

The new normal has put online operations on a pedestal and it is up for the organisations to shape up or ship out. Perpetual newness is here to stay and customers are basking in its flexibility and no doubt the end is nigh for some traditional shopping practices. Organisations must brace up while customers buckle up, and start to enjoy the new digital shopping ride.

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba, is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461.