The frenzy of post-Christmas shopping looms. Despite Christmas being a festivity for spending time with family, many now look forward to the holiday in anticipation of the sales which follow.
With the current economic climate and biting inflation, shoppers worldwide desperately seek the slashed prices and mass discounts offered in the infamous after-holiday and January sales.
Given the exponential growth of internet traffic within the e-commerce space, retailers should expect sales to skyrocket during the busy sales season.
To ensure smooth sailing and prevent tumbling into chaos, it is vital that retailers prioritize their customer experience capabilities. A focus on CX is more important now than ever, as the online shopping revolution has created a larger space for competitors.
Nearly 40% of customers now call for brands that provide good customer service, choosing this over price. During the post-holiday sales, when retailers will go head-to-head slashing prices, delivering high levels of CX will be a crucial differentiator for drawing in customers.
AI for Personalization
Technology and digital transformation within the retail space can optimize operations and streamline processes, granting increasingly enhanced customer experience capabilities.
E-commerce is appealing because it offers the practicality and convenience sought by today’s customers. Consumers are far more inclined to shop for deals online rather than venturing to their local shopping mall only to spend hours searching for that discounted coat they covet.
Yet, it is essential to maintain the personalized aspect of in-store shopping, such as recommendations. Retailers can enable personalization through the use of artificial intelligence. By implementing AI, merchants can personalize product recommendations and alert customers of special offers, mimicking the in-store experience for customers in the comfort of their homes.
Personalized content makes customers 110% more likely to purchase the items in their basket. As customers still seek these personalized and interactive experiences, retailers can utilize AI and intelligent operations to encompass the benefits of in-person shopping.
AI capabilities also streamline back-office services, accelerating processes that would otherwise be time-consuming or susceptible to human error. Many retailers offer an extended returns policy over Christmas, meaning they can face a large influx of unwanted gift returns come January.
It is, therefore, essential to have an automated returns process to sift through returned items as quickly as possible and keep customers satisfied.
For example, suppose a product is cheaper at one retailer, but the customer knows it is a slow return or delivery service. In that case, they will most likely choose the retailer they believe is fast and reliable, even if it is a higher price.
Customer Loyalty Beyond the Holiday Season
Additionally, by automating back-office processes like this, CX agents will be granted more time to deal with the more complex queries, boosting the overall customer experience. The happier a customer is, the more loyal they will become. The benefits will persist beyond the holiday sales season by giving customers what they want and ensuring speed.
Retailers can further boost customer loyalty through features such as loyalty apps, which offer special discounts or rewards. Customers seek offers that will allow them to gain early access to sales or get that extra 10% off the pair of trainers they’ve had their eye on. Small virtual touchpoints like these will naturally spark loyalty and ensure customers feel valued and connected to the brand.
Many online retailers are now investing in omnichannel delivery models for their CX capabilities, which provide customers with the agility and digital immersion they expect.
Some retail businesses are opting to bring in CX experts, who have experience producing these omnichannel experiences and have been in the game a long time — way before the pandemic, which caused the abrupt shift to e-commerce. These agents can enhance retailers’ digital capabilities, marking them to stand out in the market and draw in the digital queues of customers during the sales period.
Importance of the Human Touch
Customers now expect self-service or automated processes — something quick and efficient which allows them to order their New Year’s Eve outfit or request a return for that unwanted Christmas gift with the simple click of a button. However, when it comes to something more complex, it is essential that they can speak to a human.
Some issues within retail and e-commerce inevitably need to be filtered to a human to reach the best possible outcome. Therefore, although the digital transformation is booming, it remains vital that retailers maintain a human element within their customer service capabilities.
Offering an omnichannel service is essential because it allows customers to choose which mode they wish to communicate through when in a time of need, providing autonomy and seamlessness.
This unique combination of technology and human touch creates a blended “High-Tech, High-Touch” approach. This critical pairing will allow automation to accelerate businesses into the future and make every interaction meaningful.
A balanced and personalized approach such as this is what drives customer loyalty. During the fast-paced speed of Christmas shopping, the retailers who can deliver this will be the winners.
The number of online stores opening their virtual doors is rapidly increasing. As we move into the world of digital and Christmas shopping becomes an increasingly online phenomenon, interactions need to be seamless across all channels to optimize sales. Retailers who embrace this and prioritize investing in their CX capabilities will win the remaining wallet share.