We all know the stress of seasonal shopping can make the holidays anything but merry for consumers.
However, there are a few key customer experience features retailers can offer to help make this time of year bearable, if not downright happy, for beleaguered shoppers. The holiday customer experience should be:
There has been a lot of news lately about retailers expanding their app functionality for the holidays, and this is a smart and customer-friendly strategy. Consumers are increasingly traversing the Internet using not just mobile devices, but mobile apps, as their primary means of navigation.
Thus, retailer apps need to do more than offer store locations and product descriptions. Using an app, holiday shoppers should be able to find and purchase products down to specific SKU, and then arrange for whatever type of pickup or shipment they desire (see below). Apps should also let customers track and redeem loyalty points and discount offers, as well as make customer service inquiries.
Nobody really likes using awkward mobile versions of e-commerce sites, especially during the busy holiday period. Make sure your app is robust enough that they don’t have to.
Nothing is worse than knowing exactly what you want to buy for that special someone, and then not being able to get it. Products need to be as accessible as possible for customers, across all channels.
Retailers need to offer “endless aisle” features that let stores fulfill out-of-stock items from other stores and warehouses, as well as various pickup and shipping options for online orders. They should also think about other ways to make products more accessible to customers.
Don’t just let customers pick up online orders at stores, also offer curbside pickup so they don’t have to leave their car. Use beacons to help shoppers quickly find desired items in the store, as well as helpful suggestions (with targeted discounts) for complementary goods. Same-day delivery and click-and-collect services also help connect customers with the items they want as easily as possible.
The holidays are supposed to be fun, and by employing a little gamification retailers can amuse harried shoppers looking for diversion, while also encouraging sales and traffic. For example, Office Depot’s “Elf Yourself” offering, which lets consumers make funny videos of themselves and their friends dancing as elves, has been seen by almost 500 million people globally in the past decade.
Elf Yourself does not directly sell anything, but links to the Office Depot e-commerce site and is a great way to keep Office Depot top of mind while shoppers get a chuckle. Retailers could also devise gamified holiday promotions, such as scavenger hunts where customers tweet photos of objects hidden in stores or contests that award discounts or loyalty points, that more directly encourage visiting stores and/or shopping.
Are you granting customers their holiday customer experience wishes? If not, with cloud deployments and hosted solutions, there is still time to ensure your shoppers have a holiday season that leaves both them and you happy.