COVID-19: How 4 industries accelerated digital transformation to meet new consumer needs

How COVID-19 has changed consumer needs and accelerated digital transformation within CPG, E-commerce, Financial Services, and B2B

By Sherry Huang

COVID-19 is accelerating digital adoption. Consumers—even the most digitally resistant or under-served—have been forced to do more business, shopping, doctor visits, and socializing online. And companies across the spectrum are creating more sophisticated digital strategies to keep up.

We recently brought together digital leaders from AB InBev, IBM, and Plaid during a panel session on this topic during CDP Week. Our panelists discussed how COVID-19 forced massive digital acceleration within their industries. They also gave an inside look at how their companies are using customer data to improve digital customer experiences.

They are not alone. In this post, we’ll share how four industries have been affected by COVID-19 and how they’re using good data to help their customers thrive.

covid 19 + digital acceleration blog post

1. Consumer Packaged Goods

More consumers and businesses are now buying packaged products like diapers, alcohol, and cleaning supplies through digital channels. To help CPG’s quickly adapt to this new selling motion, they are leveraging behavioral data to create better buying experiences. 

Jason Lambert, Global VP of Product at BEES, a proud part of the AB InBev family, described the brewing company’s digital transformation as a chance to change its very traditional process of working with 6 million small to medium businesses around the world:

 “We saw a huge opportunity to create business transformation enabled by technology. And COVID accelerated that quite a bit. Hence the creation of BEES—our B2B ecosystem—enabling digital ordering and digital relationships with our retail partners around the world.” -Jason Lambert, AB InBev

AB InBev focused on creating a complete understanding of its customers to personalize digital experiences. With bodegas and liquor stores all over the world ordering online, the BEES team wanted to be able to approach each account with product recommendations informed by previous transaction history, behavioral actions taken on the ordering platform, and various trends in the broader market. Jason and the BEES team were able to make this a reality by centralizing their user profiles on Segment and using this source of truth to power new and exciting insights.

2. E-commerce

Brands with an e-commerce strategy have also accelerated their digital roadmap to stay competitive. With major e-commerce players deeply invested in digital personalization, retailers also face huge consumer expectations all around. To stand out quickly, many retailers are turning to customer data and customer data platforms. 

Take, for instance, how GoodEggs and Instacart have been able to win over digital shoppers by connecting everything they know about the customer. GoodEggs used Segment to connect disparate data pipelines to its data warehouse and visualization tools, saving them time to uncover and activate new shopper trends. 

Instacart also uses Segment to unify its customer data and optimize the grocery purchasing experience across more than 500,000 category items from over 25,000 stores. Segment makes it easy for them to access its omnichannel data, and even run experiments to drive product decisions and marketplace growth. In turn, Instacart was able to improve its customer experiences and help users find and purchase groceries more easily.

3. Financial Services:

While banking has had a growing digital presence for years, many consumers have still relied on physical banks. COVID-19 forced even the least technologically savvy customers to use online banking for the first time. In turn, banks have a new user base of digital banking customers and have turned to data to provide seamless digital experiences. 

Plaid is a fintech leader that provides technology infrastructure for banks and digital apps and services to deliver great experiences for their customers. Jean-Denis Greze, Head of Engineering at Plaid, shared how quickly things have changed. 

“For us, the future that we were expecting a few years down the line is happening now. 69% of Americans say that fintech has been a lifeline during the crisis. And a lot of these people are people who have never used fintech before.”

New customers mean an influx of new data. To harness the power of that data, platform providers like Plaid use customer data platforms to create a competitive advantage and help users accelerate their digital roadmap. 

4. B2B:

COVID-19 has meant budget cuts and longer sales cycles for many B2B businesses. With less certainty around customer acquisition, B2Bs are putting more attention on understanding customer behavior and retaining their current customer base.

Neel Adhya, the Chief Digital Officer of IBM's Cloud and Cognitive Applications unit, is responsible for driving digital transformation across a large and complex organization. During the panel he shared that unified customer data is crucial to unlocking personalized experiences:

“At a large company like IBM, you will have marketing data, sales data, product data, support and customer success data. For us, the design of the tech stack and the role of the CDP is to bring all of that data together at the moments of truth so we can drive a superior customer experience.” -Neel Adhya, IBM

At Segment, we’ve also doubled down on listening more to our customer’s behavior and adopting new strategies to drive customer retention. We use Segment to understand the “warning signs” of potential customer churn and to identify patterns that signal a customer is ready to upgrade their Segment experience. All of these signals have become crucial as we rely less on in-person customer interactions. 

Digital acceleration will impact every industry

COVID-19 is forcing every industry to accelerate its digital strategy. Leveraging customer data is critical to meeting your customers where they are, and customer data platforms are purpose-built to enable the personalized experiences you want, regardless of your digital maturity.

To learn more about how AB InBev, IBM, and Plaid led their digital acceleration journeys, watch their panel on-demand via our CDP Week portal. To get started on your own journey, test your customer data maturity or request a demo to speak to a Segment expert. 

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