Ready for Shopping Season? Check these 6 Must-Haves for Retailers

To help retail and e-commerce companies prepare for the busiest shopping season of the year, we've compiled a checklist to get them ready

October 23 2018

With more and more customers using their mobile phones to browse shopping season deals, retail and e-commerce companies need to future-proof buyer journeys. These are 6 must-haves to help you improve customer engagement and make the most of the season:  

  1. Internal Notifications 
  2. Omnichannel 
  3. Time-Sensitive Messaging 
  4. Streamlined Mobile Checkout 
  5. Customer Care Messaging 
  6. Reporting and Analytics 

1. Internal Notifications: Quickly Resolve Service Issues 

The first big shopping test of the season came in July with Amazon Prime Day. With 100 million sales in 36 hours, the stress on Amazon’s servers was immense. This wasn’t without its challenges, however... 

According to documents released to CNBC, Amazon immediately started seeing glitches on their main page due to internal auto-scaling issues. This prompted them to quickly switch to a simpler front page in order to reduce pressure on servers. 

Within an hour of having to switch off incoming international traffic to the USA most issues were resolved, and Prime Day was saved. For the most part. Some estimates say that the 63-minute outage may have ended up costing Amazon just under $100 million in dropped sales

There are a couple of lessons retailers can learn. The first is to make sure your servers can handle increased traffic volumes. The second lesson is to make sure you have an alerts system, ideally in the cloud, to immediately notify your engineers of any potential issues.  

Considering 95% of texts are read within 3 minutes, SMS alerts to the teams in charge of making sure your service runs smoothly are a shopping season must-have. 

2. Omnichannel: Engage Customers Over the Channels They Use 

You currently have one or several digital channels you are using to communicate directly with your customers. But how well do these channels work together? An omnichannel approach combines your multiple digital channels into a single customer engagement channel, which improves direct communication with your customers – a must have for retail and e-commerce companies. In fact, 87% of retailers find omnichannel critical to their success

This is the era of the smartphone, and with nearly 75% of consumers shopping on more than one channel, you need to be prepared to engage them over as many of these channels as you can.  

Twenty-six percent of retailers do not have an omnichannel integration strategy. According to Harvard Business Review, this is basically leaving money on the table. Targeting customers with omnichannel marketing results in a 10% increase in customer spending.  

3. Time-sensitive messaging: Fast Authentication for Faster Conversions 

Many of the customers who visit your site over the shopping holiday may not have an account with you. In the race to get the best deals before everyone else, you want this to be a quick process for your customers.  

At least 53% of Millennials will be browsing deals this shopping season on their mobile, and then later buy on desktop. Wouldn’t it be better if you could get the conversion while they’re on their phones? Authenticating their accounts via SMS without abandoning the checkout process results in faster conversions while also improving the customer experience. 

Don’t forget that security gives shoppers and businesses peace of mind. Two-factor authentication over SMS is a fast way to keep customer accounts safe. It combines two factors: something only your customers know with something only they have – their password and their mobile phone – for secure checkout on mobile and desktop. 

4. Streamline Checkout for Mobile Shoppers: Instant Conversions on Mobile 

A recent survey shows that 28% of shoppers abandon their purchases during checkout, citing “too long or complicated checkout processes”. Couple this with the fact that at least 53% of millennials will be browsing deals over their mobiles this shopping holiday season, and it’s clear you need to consider how streamlined your mobile checkout is. 

In order to improve customer experience and drive revenue, there are ways you can boost security and user experience at the same time.  

5. Customer Care Messaging: Customer Happiness Still Matters (A Lot) 

As a retailer, you’re aware of the importance of customer care. After all, you know it costs less to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. By adopting an omnichannel approach, you’re on course to retaining 89% of your customers

And it gets even better for companies who engage customers across all channels with personalized messaging. These retailers see a 30% increase in life-time values. Part of the reason for this increase is that companies with omnichannel strategies notice 23% higher rates of customer satisfaction. 

On the other hand, 82% of customers have taken their business elsewhere thanks to a poor customer experience. Customer care works both ways – if you aren’t careful around the shopping season, you risk losing the customers you’ve tried so hard to convert throughout the year.

6. Real-Time Reporting and Analytics: Optimize Campaigns as they Happen 

You know the importance of having real-time reporting and analytics. Understanding customer behavior lets you know which channels are generating the highest ROI and which are underperforming.   

Without real-time information with easy to navigate and customizable dashboards, you are missing out on sales growth from 8-25%.  

Tracking the success of your campaigns allows you to create personalized offers over the best performing channels for quickest engagement and conversion, while providing you the best ROI. 

Don't lose revenue to the competition. Get ready for the shopping season on time!

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