Go Digital-First, Or Not

The emerging consumer demands have nudged companies to focus on exercising a digital-first approach. But is digital-only the absolute future?
Published September 15, 2021
Last updated November 14, 2021

The term digital-first has been thrown around so often after the Covid-19 pandemic that it almost reached the status of 2020 trademark. And, there is a good reason for it — companies had to perform rapid digital transformations spanning from internal operations, marketing, selling to product delivery.

But, even though ecommerce has been a rising trend with consumers, we still need to entertain the fact that the digital-first approach may not be the absolute reality once we come on the other side of Covid-19 restrictions.

From country to country, we can see different circumstances and approaches to addressing them. Furthermore, consumer behaviour also varies according to each particular market and geographic position. 

The question remains — how can companies tend to the current circumstances but stay flexible for the future? Read on to find out.

Holistic approach to digital-first mindset

While going digital-first makes sense for various industries, some companies have gone down the digital innovation route with an exclusive focus on — digital. However, the utility of digitalisation is not about optimising old processes and executing them the same way as we did before.

The real value of digitalisation is in its ability to support value-driven methods with a strategic and sustainable approach. Optimising the purchase journey in a holistic and customer-centric way is about serving the customer with connection and convenience in mind.

customer centric

Digitalisation can support the ultimate goal of identifying and anticipating where, when, and how customers like to make a purchase. Consequently, it’s not about digital; it’s about the customer. At the end of the day, we can’t guarantee that every market will prefer the digital-first model forever.


Factors to consider before going all digital



Even though many analysts will pose theories about the Covid-19 impact on the consumer behaviour and economy, we can’t ignore that these are only theories that depend on mostly unpredictable variables.


One of the variables includes the ability to ease precautionary measures after the successful vaccination rollout. But, there is no guarantee on how soon this will happen or its impact on future consumer behaviour.

Behavioural psychology

Various consumer behavioural patterns have been shifted during the pandemic as the result of new circumstances.

Suppose we conclude based on history, after a crisis, consumers typically become more price sensitive. While some consumers will go back to their old spending habits after a certain time, some will also keep them.

The benefit of creating a more holistic overview of consumer behaviour and different variables shaping that behaviour can help brands appeal directly to consumers’ emotions and their desire to connect


During uncertain times, consumers tend to get nostalgic, making them care less for the money they are spending. This phenomenon has been helpful in marketing for quite some time now.

A study tracking the effects of Covid-19 on entertainment choices unveiled that more than half of consumers seeking comfort in familiar content from the past.

One of the great examples of the power of consumers’ nostalgia is the story of Nokia’s revamp of its classic 3310 phone model. The device sparked an absolute ‘blast from the past’ across a generation of early cellphone users. As a result, those who nostalgically remembered the simpler times purchased the phone just for fun.

In-person connection

Although brands had to optimise their processes to tend to the digital rapidly, consumers still appreciate various aspects of in-store experiences.

store service

Some of the benefits consumers get from in-store experiences include a higher level of personalisation, feeling the product, getting quick customer service, and returning products easily. 

Brands that offer in-store experiences have seen the benefits of this business model as well. Studies reveal higher spending when customers visit the store versus when they shop online 71% of all shoppers spent $50 or more when shopping in-store. 

Release the digital-first form, but keep the essence

The Digital-first approach is only relevant as long as it can adapt to each market and consumer behaviour. For this reason, the ability to cater to a variety of consumer segments will be the differentiating factor as we advance. Technology can be instrumental in serving this goal, but it shouldn’t be the ultimate goal.

Companies that want to provide a great customer experience will have to design new customer journeys with flexibility in mind, as they might need to adapt or even revert in the future.

Discover your new place in the world

Your brand’s purpose will always stay the same—serve the ever-evolving customers’ wants and needs.

For this reason, going back to the drawing board is helpful to reinvent the value you bring to the customer. Is it still relevant? Will it be relevant in the future? 

If not, consider listening to customers’ needs to reimagine your market positioning first and then apply digitalisation where necessary.

Final thoughts

As change is the only constant, leaders must keep it front of mind. 

The ability to envision the future down the line is a great skill, but building a responsive and agile business is what’s going to bring you the big win.

Want to talk specifics?

Click on the button below to book a FREE discovery call!
We are an omnichannel strategy consulting firm and would love to see you succeed in your omnichannel marketing initiatives.

Related posts

Subscribe to Behavioural Response

Stay in the know with Customer Journey Optimisation, Martech, Omnichannel Marketing, and Demand & Lead Generation

Some of the cool kids we helped being more successful

Want to know more about how we can help with your Martech and Strategic Omnichannel Initiatives?

What can we help you find? I’m looking for