Retailers – Dreaming of a ‘Black-Friday Christmas’?
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday over, are you feeling ‘Christmassy’ yet?
With Christmas a mere week away (take a deep breath), retailers should be smiling with new figures showing an increase in footfall of 3.3% in comparison to last year’s Black Friday. According to Springboard shopping centres had the best footfall uplift and they believe the reason to be the fact that Black Friday fell on payday.
There’s no denying that Black Friday is BIG business, however is this trend ultimately good for both consumers and retailers? Having barely shut the front door to Trick-or-Treaters the festive frenzy drags on for weeks. During the pre-festive season, the ‘Golden Quarter’ has become a bargain hunter’s dream. However, many retailers believe Black Friday could be collective suicide for the industry. In the past few years shoppers have seen no need to go shopping if they might get things cheaper the following week. Why would they when they are being trained to expect big discounts over Black Friday?
When retailers promote and prolong the discount holiday shopping season, driving down prices to remain competitive and attract footfall, it’s no wonder that by the time Boxing Day dawns, after so much discounting, shoppers show ‘discount fatigue’ with January sales figures lukewarm.
Not to sound like a Bah-humbug (I actually love Christmas), but there is a darker side to the ‘Golden Quarter’ for businesses and consumers amongst all the tinsel and festive cheer. With customer experience a key differentiator, mega-discounting runs the risk of shattering carefully cultivated customer journeys with a ‘price is everything’ attitude. For example, consumers my want to browse in-store, order online, have their order delivered and or pick is up from a convenient collection point. They might want to return item/s to the store, and when they do, pick up an alternative item, ordered via a mobile app. At each step they expect retailers to know who they are and what their recent interactions with the brand have been.
Businesses that flourish during the festive period understand that customer experience can change the attitude of customers towards their favourite brands, so it’s of utmost importance to deliver the same levels of customer service during peak shopping season to that of quieter periods. However, some retailers are still caught off-guard, unprepared for the escalation of customer interactions during this busy period and last-minute shoppers still expecting exceptional service.
For instance, many businesses will be employing extra staff in the lead up to Christmas as part of their customer service strategy, however many newbies will not have the same knowledge about products, refund or exchange procedures, like permanent staff. A clear multi-channel strategy is required to maintain high levels of customer experience. Deploying AI-powered online customer service software to ensure right, consistent answers are delivered to customers regardless of channel, and to assist temporary and permanent contact centre staff, could be the competitive advantage to provide the high levels of customer support needed.
Having produced an amazing and successful Christmas ad campaign might to wonders for PR, simple missteps can cause shoppers to stray to a competitor such as websites buckling under an unprecedented influx of traffic on Black Friday. When this happens, customers will be quick to exploit the benefits of online shopping – not having to brave the weather, crowds or queues – by spending money at a competitor, from the comfort of their own sofas, in two clicks.
It’s clear that the consumer is in control, enabled through technology to remain constantly connected and more empowered than ever before. Multi-dimensional consumer behaviour is driving the changing the retail landscape at an unparalleled rate and though the channels they’re using to shop with are changing, their expectations are not.
Continuously nurturing relationships with your customers is crucial to growing your business, especially during peak times. The questions is: Will 2020 be the start of a beautiful customer experience journey for your business?