The 2016 Holiday Shopping season ended with much buzz a couple of weeks ago and now retailers and analysts are slowly coming out with exact figures pertaining to sales and related activities that happened over the nearly 2 month long extravaganza. Overall the situation looks very pleasing for retailers as consumers gave them exactly what they desired – lavish spending. The National Retail Federation released overall sales figures for November to December period and it stood at $658.3 billion which is 4 per cent higher than what it was in 2015.
Either because of the freezing weather or the holiday traffic jams, malls and physical retail stores did not quite see the excitement witnessed by online retailers. The 2016 holiday season saw $91 billion in online sales between November 1st and December 31st up from $82.5 billion the same period in 2015. 57 out of the 61 days of the season witnessed over $1 billion of single day sales. Cyber Monday became the highest grossing sales day ever for online retail in US history when it clocked $3.45 billion in single day online sales. 86 per cent of the revenue generated during the Holiday season came between the 1st of November and 20th of December.
On a year on year basis, 2016 witnessed a 12 percent rise in the number of online transactions conducted during the holiday season when compared to 2015. 21.3 % of all holiday spending was transacted online and is a huge increase when compared to 2015’s figure of 15.4 %.
Over 50% of web visits to online retailers came from smart devices like smartphones and Tablet PC’s. Together they generated $28.43 Billion dollars in revenue which is 23% more when compared to 2015. Tablet PC’s were able to drive in $9.2 billion in sales and 9 percent of overall online store visits while smartphones drove in $19.3 billion worth sales and 41 percent of store visits. Desktop PC’s accounted for $63.1 billion which was also 12% higher when compared to 2015 figures. However the share of overall sales is tipped in favour of Desktops as they garnered a 69 percent share of the overall sales.
Amazon was the undisputed leader in the ecommerce holiday sales records this time as well. Over the period, Amazon had 38 percent of the entire ecommerce market under its belt and no other retailer even came close to matching them.
2016 was an exciting year of growth for ecommerce just like it has been in the past couple of years. Consumer spends were favourably in line with expectations for much of the year and broke expectations with the onset of the Holiday season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday together accounted for close to $7 billion in sales revenue. Let’s keep the stats aside as you might have already been accustomed to quite a few by now. There is no doubt in the fact that 2017 will witness even bigger sales events and online sales will eat away a good majority of physical store sales all across the globe. On this note, the biggest challenge facing ecommerce companies is to prepare their website for sales in 2017. In terms of traffic management, shopping frequencies, user sessions, etc. 2017 is poised to be of far greater magnitude than 2016.
We have gathered info about some of the best practices you can adopt for your ecommerce website to stay competent in the boom and ensure your consumers are happy every time they visit your online store. Here are our top picks:
Robust technology platform
If your ecommerce site is running on legacy systems, then you need to definitely draw up an action plan to get it replaced with a scalable and robust modern day ecommerce platform. Hiring in an expert ecommerce consulting company to rephrase your entire technology architecture without altering your business models is the best option if you are unable to make the digital transformation in-house. An industry standard ecommerce platform will ensure that all your marketing and business logic would flawlessly be implemented to provide the best shopping experience for your visitors.
In one of our previous blog posts, we had detailed down on essentials of a great ecommerce checkout process. Cart abandonment rate is one parameter that you should focus to decrease and gradually eliminate from your business model. 2016 saw several ecommerce websites report that in cases 90% of their shoppers left their site on the checkout stage simply because it wasn’t optimized to provide them a hassle free purchase. The solution would be to design multiple checkout workflows and conduct A/B Testing and other proven quality analysis to determine the best checkout process for your ecommerce store.
If you think you have enough personalization based on user preferences, we have bad news for you. Consumer choices change in a matter of seconds. The more data an ecommerce system is able to collect and analyse, more is the personalization options they can offer to consumers. This is to be treated as a continuous process that always evolves based on feedbacks. Personalizing consumer interactions with easier navigation, better targeted promotions and smart marketing will greatly influence purchase decisions.
Managing feedback content
Today almost all ecommerce sites offer customers a choice to leave reviews and comments on their purchases. But most of the sites do not attempt to engage customers further after they have submitted their reviews and ratings. With smart marketing tools, your marketers can gain deep insights into how consumers are generating positive or negative sentiments for their purchases and helps them engage in better conversations which ultimately leads to new sales requests.
Delivery is the area where the customer actually comes in contact with his purchase for the first time. As such there is a tremendous opportunity for ecommerce companies to improve brand loyalty at this stage. Making the fastest delivery alone isn’t enough to gain confidence from shoppers but providing a wholesome delivery/pick-up experience is the key to winning hearts. Allowing consumers to select favourable delivery time slots, offering them choices to change delivery addresses after despatch, etc. are just some of the ways you can help consumers feel happy about the overall delivery experience.
So there you have it folks, our top 5 picks in best practices to help your ecommerce site win big in the New Year. Stay tuned to our blogs for more such exciting tips.
Consumer Experience or CX is now the new norm of business growth. Be it offline or online business, the experience offered by a brand or a store at all their points of sale decides the future of their business model. And for creating the best CX, you need tons of data to analyze. Forbes has pointed out in a recent study that in nearly 3 out of 10 organizations, data driven CX has taken customer satisfaction to new heights thanks to well informed decisions. Forbes arrived at the results after surveying over 350 executives across the globe engaged in different levels of organizations in multiple industry domains.
There is no scarcity for data today as consumers generate data in truckloads every minute. Here is an interesting snapshot of what happens in an internet minute or 60 seconds of internet time:
2.4 million search queries on Google, $200K plus sales on Amazon and other such facts from the above infographic sheds light into the huge pile of data that organizations can drill into to derive insights about consumer behavior, their shopping preferences, frequencies, average spends, etc. to name a few. Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016 just went by and their analysis sheds light into tons of consumer data as well.
The consumer has willingly released such volumes of data into the internet and they know that you as a brand can easily access the data. So they would expect a good amount of personalization in the experiences they come across. As an organization, you should be able to capitalize on this data and utilize it to meet customer expectations at all touch points. Any delay would help competitors to pounce on your market share and attract buyers with better shopping experiences.
Data Driven CX is not something that is managed and accounted for by the CMO or his team at an organization. It is a collective effort. Marketers struggle with outdated or unorganized data streams where customer data flows in randomly from different systems such as Website, Email, CRM, Social media, etc. On top of these, there are platform and device information silos like visits from desktops and mobile devices out of which mobile devices have further classifications in terms of OS, screen size, etc.
The biggest challenge that many organizations face in implementing a data driven CX strategy is the lack of integration between teams. A smooth CX requires data systems, technology infrastructure and smart people who can complement each other and deliver a single and consistent experience. Ideally businesses need to keep track of whose doing what and the ultimate goal of an integrated consumer experience. There is no point in blaming each other within an organization for a failed consumer experience as the consumer is least bothered about what happens inside your office.
For businesses, it is time to transform their customer experience to stay relevant in the highly competitive market. Seeking expert advisory to transform digital touch points is the best option available for business today to enable a data driven CX ecosystem. With over 2 decades of unparalleled service in the digital transformation space, McFadyen Solutions is rightly positioned to help your business to deliver its full potential. Drop us a message and we will be glad to assist you.
Its true that returns are expensive, as they tax the retailer’s resources and lead to lower profit margins in the short term. However, retailers need to understand the importance of efficient returns-handling in building customer trust and enhancing lifetime values. They should know that when a customer isnt happy with a product and returns it, they have to act quickly and efficiently to process the return. Efficient returns play a key role in managing the inventory efficiently – balancing forecasts and return rates within the inventory levels serves well to prevent overstocks and backorders – ensuring that the customer will come back for more. Here are some tips to streamline your ‘Return’ policy.
- Communicate with customers about the return processing through information on pages, on receipts, or within a packaged delivery product.
- Keep the process and terms simple. Placing a code on return labels expedites return process when multiple systems are involved.
- Identify reasons for returns. Data collected should be used to calculate costs of returns which in turn aids the action plans.
- Return processes should be quick as customers would be low on patience. They are more likely to shop with the same retail merchant again if the return process is convenient.
- Cross channel returns enable flexibility and variety on the shopper’s part, giving more reasons for the customer to purchase another product from the same retailer.
- Smart returns – for e.g. Innovations like bar-coded labels, which can be sent online – also would help to make the customers more comfortable and assured of the return confirmation.
- The merchant or manufacturer or a third party fulfillment service provider can be sources to handle customer returns, thereby increasing the number of options for the customer to easily return the product