This year has all the hallmark of being a truly prolific year for online merchants with research from Statista estimating that for the first time, US holiday retail sales will surpass $1 trillion, a 5.8% increase on last year’s festive period, and eMarketer predicting that total UK Christmas sales will reach £98.06 billion. But the bad news is that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows: what used to satisfy customers a few years ago is now no longer enough.
The unavoidable rise of the smartphone over the past few years has completely reshaped the way we use the internet and has had a profound effect on the way we shop. Consumers embracing mobile shopping also want the convenience of not having to be at home when the goods are delivered, meaning retailers really need to focus their efforts on providing as many delivery and collection options as possible.
In the last few years, we have seen ASOS launch same day delivery while Amazon, among others, deliver through secure drop boxes where customers can collect items at more convenient locations, transforming the online shopping experience. And this year, we have seen more and more ecommerce websites focusing on their delivery processes as the most important way to ensure customer retention.
Bricks and Clicks
Click-and-collect can mean big business for retailers, and, drawing customers into stores via click-and-collect is a great way of boosting brand loyalty thanks to good in-store customer service. Shoppers who have purchased online will often also make further purchases once in-store when they see offers and new items on display.
Last year, department store John Lewis saw two thirds of click-and-collect orders picked up by consumers doing their grocery shop at Waitrose stores. And it appears that click-and-collect is more convenient than having the agonising experience of waiting in all day for a courier, especially as, despite the fact that there are now numerous delivery options, not all retailers offer delivery windows. This trend could well cause a few headaches for multi-channel retailers who are unprepared this year.
No longer restricted to the local high street, consumers are empowered by a world of unlimited choice accessible anytime and anywhere. This means that retailers need to be more innovative than ever before to stimulate sales and preserve margin in this tough economic climate. Put simply; they need to start thinking like shoppers.
There could be several reasons why customers prefer to visit your shop than buy online. Some might not be comfortable purchasing a product without seeing it first; others may feel that can get the item quicker if they can collect it themselves. Adding geocoding is a great way to stay on top of multi-channel propositions and keep up with the demands of the modern consumer. It makes good business sense for sites to offer as many ways for customers to buy as possible, so that they can choose whichever channel is most convenient to them. Brands that can integrate sales channels for consumer research and purchasing will undoubtedly achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.
In the end, it may be your service, not the product itself that prescribes whether or not you retain your customers. And with online sales set to increase this Christmas, it’s never been more important to ensure their ecommerce sites are well placed to serve these needs.