Uber-Channel Shifts: Lessons Learned from the 2015 Holiday Season – Part 1


The following is a guest blog written by Sara Wright, Marketing Director, at Dialog Direct.

The winter Customer Response Summit may have concluded, but the excitement generated by the event still lives on. Of course, when Execs In The Know is involved, we can all expect great connections, thought-provoking panels and lots of laughs, but it’s what we didn’t expect in Phoenix that is generating the most chatter – the convergence of three of retail’s biggest competitors together on one stage. This one-of-a-kind panel involving customer experience executives was full of energy, content and friendly, competitive jabs, as the panelists shared their firsthand experience in retail’s hottest trends, innovations, wins and lessons learned.

Here is what we learned:

1. “Click-and-Collect” Shopping Has Many Challenges and Opportunities

Appealing to the omnichannel shopper who bounces back and forth between online and in-store shopping, “click-and-collect” orders are enjoyed by 42% of online shoppers, according to Forrester Research. While the concept of buying online and picking up in-store seems easy, both retailers and consumers are experiencing both the joys and the pains that go along with this new initiative – especially during the 2015 holiday season.

The introduction of buying online and picking up in-store is very complex operationally, with one major retailer expressing challenges specifically around accuracy of available stock, customers buying the reserved item in-store before it is picked, and order queuing. While challenges are observed and expected, this new fulfillment model brings many exciting revenue growth opportunities. For one, this model brings online shoppers into the stores which, according to a survey by Deloitte, omnichannel shoppers were poised to spend about 75 percent more than store-only shoppers this season on gifts, entertaining and other purchases.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to retailers? The ability to tackle their warehouse out-of-stock issues by using their stores as another fulfillment source. During the 2015 holiday season it was noted that 30% of the items that were purchased online were out of stock at the warehouses, but because of the new ship from store model, brands are now able to save all of those sales. Dubbed “smarter inventory,” retailers can now pull from stores that have higher inventory of a specific product, reducing static shelf life to maximize profits, as well as pull from the store closest to the shipping address to lower shipping costs and decrease ship time. This format greatly benefits those last-minute holiday shoppers, now giving them additional online shopping days while still receiving their packages on time.

As a retailer, be prepared for the pitfalls of not meeting customer expectations when it comes to click-and-collect, or with any new innovation, by adequately staffing your call center, or outsourcing a piece of your contact center for an increase in call volume. A customer service recovery strategy, following data-backed guidelines to deter customer rage, may also be helpful.

2. Geo-Tracking Enhances the In-Store Experience

While dot-com sites have long had the benefit of placing cookies and other tracking tools on computers to track online consumer behavior, 2015 brought a similar benefit to the brick-and-mortar operations. Thanks to cell phones, Wi-Fi and retailer apps, retailers can now personalize the in-store experience by tracking the customer location, as well as real-time store behaviors. One of the retail panelists at the Summit spoke about their use of this new technology, to enhance the customer experience with their booming grocery pickup service. The store can actually receive a ping from your cell phone, alerting them that you are in the parking lot. This then let’s the employee know that it is time to meet you outside to load up the groceries!

Another large retailer represented at the Summit uses mobile tracking to track customer behavior. If a purchase is not made in their store, they can send you a non-purchase survey and then track the competitor stores that you go to instead. The mobile app also tells the brand that you are in the store, so if you are ordering an item via your phone while in-store, the shipping charges will be automatically waived.

Geo-tracking can bring many opportunities for retailers to personalize the customer experience, giving the opportunity to deliver just-in-time ads and coupons, as well as gain a better understanding of how customers move throughout the store, providing helpful insight for store design and product display. Another option for a personalized customer experience is to work with a campaign management partner to strategically use your data, to deliver personalized and relevant digital and traditional communications that drive measurable results in real-time.

Join us next week for part two in this series, to discover three more lessons learned from the 2015 Holiday Season!

Want even more content?

Join a free webinar on “How to Craft a Strong Customer Service Recovery Program on May 19th. Register Here.

Interested in what was learned at the Customer Response Summit in Seattle during September 2015? Check out www.dialog-direct.com/media-room/article/crsummit-2015-6-things-we-learned/