6 Steps to plan for successful digital adoption

Plan and prepare for digital change to ensure successful adoption.

When it comes to changing how we do things, most of us would say, “No thanks!” After all, change is rarely easy. But when it comes to business, change is often a necessity.

Perhaps there’s no better example of this than what we all faced in 2020. The pandemic forced us to change and adapt like never before. Some businesses found ways to benefit, while others were unable to weather the storm.

Businesses found that they needed to serve customers where, when, and how they wanted to be served. As in-person options were restricted or even eliminated, businesses had to change how they worked with their customers, and they frequently sought out digital options.

Looking forward, it’s apparent that ag retailers who deliver a seamless digital experience have a greater opportunity than ever before to cement customer loyalty, gain market share and grow their business. But it does take change to make this happen.

How this change is handled is what makes the difference when it comes to employee morale, customer satisfaction, and business success. A smooth and successful transition to a digital offering requires a plan and a process. Without one, roughly 70% of change initiatives fail, according to a widely cited article in the Harvard Business Review.

Your plan could have a number of steps, but we have found there are six key critical steps to include for the many retailers we’ve assisted with this process.

1. Create the vision

We all know some employees will want to do things the way they’ve always done them, so it’s important to create a sense of urgency and explain why a move to digital is necessary. Not everyone will get on board on day one but with a clear vision in place, they will make progress.

Your vision should be a clear statement on how the addition of digital tools will make things easier, save time and improve the customer experience. Put yourself in your staff’s shoes and always ask, “What’s in it for me?” If they think the change will make more work for them, they will drag their feet rather than jumping in.

2. Align your leadership team and share the vision

Once the vision is created, your leadership team must be in lockstep in how they share it and implement necessary steps to achieve it. If you have multiple business units, you need to be aligned as a collective – from finance to agronomy to grain.

Recognize your strengths and weaknesses as leaders and work together as a unified team to bring along the rest of the organization.

3. Make it a conversation

To be truly effective, your leaders must do more than just talk at their employees. Your entire team must say, “This is important” and actually be involved in the conversation.

Without that two-way discussion, you won’t truly know how employees are reacting, and you may eventually be blindsided by a situation that didn’t need to occur.

There are many ways you can involve them in the conversation early on. From surveys to in-person team meetings, soliciting their thoughts, hearing their concerns, and getting feedback are all invaluable for success.

4. Create a coalition

Many employees may not be comfortable expressing their concerns or asking questions of top leadership. Building a coalition of champions within the company who can help others will ensure continued adoption and success.

Every company has individuals who others trust to say what they really think. Find these people in your organization, ask them to be champions for the vision and incentivize them to help lead this effort. Something as small as buying lunch can go a long way toward keeping the team motivated.

5. Communicate regularly and set goals

Ongoing communication is key to moving the effort forward. Communicate throughout the process and do it in different ways to address different learning styles and preferences. This may be through an internal newsletter, emails, regularly speaking with the team, or through some other communication tactic.

Also, develop a timeline with achievable goals along the way. Assess your company and figure out how much time is necessary for each step in the process. You may need more time for certain elements during the spring or fall busy seasons, for example.

There is no magic formula for how long the transition will take, so do what’s best for your specific situation.

6. Celebrate small wins

As goals are achieved, make sure to celebrate them! Share success stories along the way to keep everyone motivated and use the carrot rather than the stick to reward progress. If your company has multiple business units, be sure to call out wins from across the company so everyone shares in the success.

As mentioned earlier, small gestures go a long way in keeping the team e