It’s easy at this time of year to get caught up in this Christmas trading period and lose sight of what’s next. With high volumes of sales, Christmas is a good time to log what works and what could work better.
Here are 12 of the pillars multichannel retailing that can make and break a good customer experience (yes, in a cheesy Christmas format).
Online shopping now takes place on multiple devices, so having a ‘persistent cart’ ensures items remain in the cart when they switch from one to the other, saving them the hassle of searching for their desired items all over again and encouraging them to complete the transaction.
Clear on-site information outlining stock availability, ideally in real-time aids in a good customer experience. The sense of urgency can even encourage a purchase. Knowing where your stock is at all times and displaying the information on site prevents disappointment and ultimately, a bad customer experience.
By analysing consumer interactions – both online and in-store – retailers have a new level of insight into shopping habits. Data has consistently shown that customers who interact with brands on multiple channels are more valuable and loyal than their single channel counterparts.
The modern customer wants a range of convenient, low cost delivery options. Once an added bonus, Click & Collect is now a key offering for multichannel retailers. It’s a win-win for retailers as customers are essentially doing the delivery work themselves! Now, retailers are even investing in collection points at petrol and train stations.
Some retailers have taken Click & Collect to the next level. Harvey Nichols introduced Click & Try earlier this year, allowing customers to try on ordered items in store with a style advisor. Waitrose has also just pioneered a new store format that includes changing facilities at collection points, for customers who have ordered fashion items from John Lewis.
Our most recent research found that 26% of the top 100 online retailers do not offer free returns. This year’s innovations in delivery methods has dictated that fulfilment is now a key differentiator and retailers who are making it easy to buy and return are best placed to compete. Those who fail to provide an easy returns experience will most certainly lose customers, especially over the Christmas trading period.
Clear pricing information early on in the online shopping journey is important for a good customer experience. Serving customers with information about payment types relevant to their territory, including a selection of currencies, shipping, tax and possible customs costs, ensures that consumers are informed early on and not hit with unplanned costs during checkout.
Providing a personalised experience is more accessible than ever. However, retailers must be aware that excessive retargeting or in-store targeting using iBeacons, for example, can be perceived as creepy and irritating. Customer data must be used cleverly to deliver relevance and value without coming across as annoying.
As we move quickly into the era of multiple devices, retailers must recognise the importance of making the purchase journey work seamlessly across screens. A mobile and tablet-optimised site is vital, particularly with the rise of mobile payments and consumers become more comfortable using their smartphone to checkout online.
All retailers are vying for loyal customers and it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate. Retailers need to address and serve customer expectations and where possible aim to communicate their brand values at all points. Offering things like free and easy returns, persistent cart and additional payment options all serve to enhance the customer experience.
As US trends creep into the UK market (Black Friday) and delivery methods get faster and faster, traffic peaks through November and December are ever-shifting. To cope with the pressures of the Christmas trading period and throughout the year, retailers need to make sure contingency plans are in place for IT, logistics and customer services.
The rise of multichannel retail has given brands the opportunity to merge the online and high street landscapes, and doing so can be hugely effective. In-store technology, like Burberry’s video screens that feature models walking in and out, audio-visual experiences and digital mirrors, provides a truly modern shopping experience. Digitalising stores in this way and providing stations for online ordering offers online convenience with the traditional in-store experience.
…and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
Merry Christmas from Ampersand.