Economic indicators, independent reports and government statistics all point to the fact that Christmas is getting bigger and better than the one before when it comes to ecommerce. And this year has all the hallmark of being a truly prolific year for online merchants with research from Forrester estimating that global ecommerce will be worth a staggering £334 billion (US$536 billion).But the bad news is that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows: what use to satisfy customers a couple of years ago is now no longer enough.
The unavoidable rise of the smartphone over the past few years has completely reshaped the way we use the internet and has had a profound effect on the way we shop. Consumers embracing mobile shopping also want the convenience of not having to be at home when the goods are delivered. In fact, our own research found almost half of American shoppers find the option to collect from store as important to their overall experience.
This year, we have seen more and more ecommerce websites focusing on their delivery processes as the most important way to ensure customer retention. This year, ASOS launched same day delivery while Amazon, among others, delivers through secure drop boxes where customers can collect items at more convenient locations.
Bricks and Clicks
It appears that click-and-collect is more convenient than having the agonizing experience of waiting in all day for a courier, especially when they don’t all offer delivery windows. This trend could well cause a few headaches for multi-channel retailers who are unprepared this year. No longer restricted to the local high street, consumers are empowered by a world of unlimited choice accessible anytime and anywhere. This means that retailers need to be more innovative than ever before to stimulate sales and preserve margin in this tough economic climate. Put simply; they need to start thinking like shoppers.
There could be several reasons why customers prefer to visit your shop than buy online. Some might not be comfortable purchasing a product without seeing it first; others may feel that can get the item quicker if they can collect it themselves. Adding a store finder is a great way to stay on top of multichannel propositions and keep up with the demands of the modern consumer. It makes good business sense for sites to offer as many ways for customers to buy as possible, so that they can choose whichever channel is most convenient to them. Brands that can integrate sales channels for consumer research and purchasing will undoubtedly achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.
In the end, it may be your service, not the product itself that prescribes whether or not you retain your customers. And with online sales set to increase this Christmas, it’s never been more important to ensure their ecommerce sites are well placed to serve these needs.