It’s that time of the year again. The season of giving. And now more than any year in our lifetimes, we have reasons to be thankful and express our love and appreciation for our friends and families — even if the daily challenges posed by life in 2020 may not make us feel that way in the moment.
Of course, like most everything else in the COVID-19-altered landscape of 2020, Holiday shopping has drastically shifted to an either exclusively or primarily online format. According to Business Insider data, U.S. consumers will spend $190.47 billion on Holiday e-commerce purchases — up nearly 36% and accounting for an incremental $50 billion in sales when compared to 2019.
That’s obviously great news for e-tailers and brands. But it also poses a whole additional set of challenges. More than ever before in the history of e-commerce, the 2020 Holiday season is a time for e-tailers and brands to contemplate how to be as consumer-centric as possible — and then go out and deliver on these consumer-friendly tactics. Of particular importance in getting things right? Maximizing your customers’ post-purchase experience.
Here are some tips and tactics to help you this Holiday season.
Building out a robust, effective and efficient e-commerce infrastructure and engine is vital to any Holiday season, especially this one. One thing you’ll want to make sure to attend to is cart abandonment notifications. Online shopping cart abandonment is all too common, and occurs for a wide variety of reasons. And even if a customer did purchase from you online, chances are they left a “sleigh of gifts” or two…stranded out in the cold. Enabling cart abandonment “push notifications” will remind them of the gifts and goodies they left behind — and established data shows they can double or even triple the click-through-rates of targeted emails.
There’s nothing quite like truly personalized gift giving. After all, that’s a major part of the entire appeal of Christmas and Santa Claus. He knows where you live, what you’ve been doing, and if he approves of you…he’s bound to leave you with a colorfully wrapped package topped with a beautiful bow and personalized name tag.
The same customized, curated approach can and should apply to your customers’ overall online shopping experience — and it shouldn’t stop after a purchase has been made. By analyzing behavioral and contextual customer data and pairing it with business-centric data, e-tailers and brands can play Santa Claus by delivering relevant products that inspire customers — and keep them coming back for more, even well past the Holiday shopping season. Established data analysis shows that basing product recommendations on consumer data such as geo-location typically leads to a sizable increase in conversion rates — and a decrease in cart abandonment.
E-tailers can also use insights from previous browsing history of consumers to feature relevant content to their online shoppers — ideally “nudging” them to revisit that perfect gift…or discover something closely related to it.
We all know about those hard-working, industrious elves. The ones affectionately known as “Santa’s Little Helpers.” Old St. Nick couldn’t do what he does each and every Holiday season, all around the world, if not for this kind of support team. Similarly, if you want to really deliver for your consumers, it’s best to hire your own version of an Elf Army. Or at least consider adding an additional employee or two to enhance your standard customer service and support operation.
You can do this by making sure your e-commerce platform provides 24/7, around-the-clock customer support — even if something as future-feeling as a ChatBot can’t really compete with something as timeless and magical as an Elf. During the Holiday shopping season, and for a good while after, you should have dedicated support for phone, email and social media channels. You should also do your very best to respond to any and all inquiries, questions, concerns and complaints as quickly as possible — ideally within 24 to 48 hours from receiving them from a customer. Treating them right can go a long way towards ensuring they shop with you next Holiday season…and maybe even well beyond.
Which brings us to everyone’s not-so-favorite part of the modern-day online shopping and e-tail experience: chargebacks. Chargebacks happen, and they happen for a wide range of reasons, pretty much any day, week, month or season of the year. But around the Holidays, chargebacks become seemingly as commonplace and overwhelming as Bing Crosby songs, Christmas trees, Holly wreaths and “A Christmas Story” showings on TV. Even worse, data shows that during the COVID-19 era (also known as 2020: The Most Challenging Year Ever), chargebacks are happening more often and intensely than ever before — and a great number of them also happen to be “illegitimate” or “fraudulent”. This is a term now known as “consumer abuse”, and it’s up to all of us to figure out how to deal with it moving forward.
Of course, what’s Christmas without people returning gifts, anyway? It’s always happened, well before a single item was ever purchased online. It will always continue to happen, too. What’s more, since Holiday online shopping kicked off earlier than ever this year with Amazon Prime Day (actually two days now) way back in mid-October, e-tailers and brands should expect a December surge in chargebacks like never before (remember, they typically show up between 30 and 60 days after an online purchase).
So, in short: Be prepared. The chargebacks (and online fraudsters) are coming…to town. Just like Santa Claus.
Well…not really. But if you were to be able to execute this approach (and maybe even deck your drones out like Santa’s sleigh)...we’re guessing that would be pretty cool for all involved. Not to mention garner you some serious publicity!
In all seriousness, we all know that when it comes to your customers, their happiness is nothing to take lightly. Especially during the always-hectic Holiday season. And especially during this particular pandemic-affected Holiday.
All of us here at Relay want to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy Holiday. And we want to remind you that if you ever need help optimizing and streamlining your post-purchase experience to deliver for your valued customers, we’re just a click or a call away.