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Capture more holiday sales with self-service

22nd Nov 2016
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There’s a whole lot of cheer coming your way this winter, as eCommerce holiday sales are set to rise over 13% from last years’ numbers. But when you’re going head to head with giants such as holiday favorites Amazon and eBay, your retail experience needs to be more fine-tuned than ever to meet your customers growing needs.

Take speed for example. A delay of as little as one second on your website can cause a 16% drop in customer satisfaction as well as a 7% fall in conversions. As retailers, the holiday season is essential for gaining both sales and happy customers, but it is also the busiest time of year.

How can you reconcile these two facts and scale your business to meet demand?

One great answer is upping your retail experience with digital self-service. Unlike hiring more staff, or extending their hours, digital self-service options allow you to scale seamlessly to meet the rise in demand. Support bots are becoming increasingly common to help businesses get their message out to customers and handle queries on their websites without the added expense of more staff over the holiday season. Customers can receive targeted, contextually relevant support and guidance in much the same way as smartphone users might turn to Siri, or Cortana. This focus on speed and availability not only encourages conversions, but also repeat visitors.

Another popular example for improving the quality of your customer interactions is incorporating a centralized knowledgebase into your business. Not only does this empower agents by giving them a wealth of information at their fingertips, but it also allows for personalization as well as better reporting and analytics.

 Over half of customers are now happy to share their preferences so that they receive better personalized recommendations on products and services. If you’re not collating and benefiting from this kind of data already, you’re missing a trick, and your competition is thanking you for it.

As the majority of shopping now happens from mobile devices, you want this kind of knowledge and support to be entirely omnichannel. Customers might start browsing on a desktop computer, continuing their search by smartphone on the move, followed by sending a question via messenger or social media. As a business, you have to meet the expectation that the support and guidance your customers receive is up to date and accurate across all those channels. 

While these answers might meet the thirst for speed on your website, customer impatience isn’t limited to pre-purchase. 73% of online shoppers use shipping as the deciding factor in their purchasing decisions. Last year alone, between UPS and Fedex, almost a billion packages were scheduled to be delivered from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

At first glance, the stats are impressive with each of these delivery giants boasting an on-time delivery rate of over 90%. But that 10% failure rate equals a whole lot of children waking up disappointed on Xmas morning. The popularity of services like Amazon Prime where your order is delivered not just with free shipping, but in a fraction of the time, has shown how little customers enjoy waiting for the mailman, whether it’s Black Friday deals or an impulse purchase year-round.

Think outside the box to improve these stats, such as providing Click and Collect services where possible, which have already changed the way one in five customers shop. This can take some of the burden off shipping and delivery this time of year. Interacting with your customers on a deeper level and thinking creatively can also help here. If a purchase is not time-sensitive, perhaps offer your customer reduced or free shipping in return for a slower delivery time, which is guaranteed.

The ultimate retail experience for your customers is fast, accurate, available, and best of all-within your grasp. Whether it’s beating delivery expectations, providing omni-channel efficiency, or seamlessly meeting the rise in demand this time of year, these are the tricks of the trade to get your slice of the projected $95 billion pie this holiday season.

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