The Golden Quarter presents brands and retailers with multiple opportunities to engage with shoppers and ultimately boost sales. However, the true winners of this peak shopping season aren’t those that only see sales spike on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Instead, it’s those that use the quarter to turn their festive shopping flings with customers into long-term relationships. In a highly competitive retail environment, brands and retailers should be thinking long-term, not short-term wins, and using key shopping days as a foundation to building a base of “core repeaters” – or brand loyal customers – who consistently come back for more.
Checkpoints in the Golden Quarter like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming a race to the bottom, with price the main point of competition. But in today’s world of “price-matching”, discounts no longer have the pulling power that they once might have had. Brands and retailers need to differentiate through the experience they offer to consumers.
This experience doesn’t end when the consumer hits buy – it extends beyond the buy button to delivery, and, thanks to a returns culture, back again. The experience that customers receive post purchase should be timely, convenient and reflect the brand, at all stages of their journey.
With studies showing that retailers have the chance to generate 24% of their annual e-commerce business during this holiday peak season, it’s clear just how critical it is for retailers to turn one off holiday sales into long-term relationships.
So what are the ingredients that make up a perfect post-sale experience?
Communication is key
There’s no doubt that during the ‘Golden Quarter’ – the busiest shopping time of the year – consumers speedy delivery expectations of online orders are not always met. The demands placed on carriers is huge, and reflect on the retailer. However, there’s a simple solution to keeping customers sweet and encouraging them to come back to buy again, even if there is a delivery delay.
Our research shows the power of communication is key: 81% of UK shoppers agree that receiving proactive updates on the progress of an online order – without having to request an update – is a critical factor in their decision to repeat purchase. A further 80% agreed that they want proactive updates about delivery schedules. Through this we can see that, to retain and boost loyalty, it’s essential brands and retailers communicate consistently with their customers, – even if it is to tell them about a delay.
Research from Springboard revealed a 46% increase for online transactions this Black Friday as more and more decide to stray away from the hectic high street and shop at their convenience. Black Friday proved to be a hit for online retailers but the research from Springboard also revealed footfall at shops was down 7% from 2017, high streets saw a 6.4% decline and shopping centre visitor numbers dropped 9.1%.
If it’s convenience they want, then convenience should be what they get! You only have to look at the popularity of retailers with a subscription business model – such as Dollar Shave Club or BirchBox – to see that convenience is a key driver for consumers today.
By pre-empting customer queries like ‘Where is my order?’ brands and retailers can improve convenience of the post-purchase shopping experience. Sending timely messages throughout the picking, packing and delivery process, is a great way for brands and retailers to be on the front foot with customers – they will also save themselves the time and expense of handling these queries in the meantime.
Choose your channels
Push delivery updates are convenient ways to communicate with customers about their order – but our research has told us that the channel counts when it comes to building brand-loyal customers. We found that 60% of UK consumers are more likely to return to a brand or retailer to make another purchase when they’re able to choose the channel of communication (e.g. email, SMS, bot, voice etc) the brand or retailer can contact them on.
Equally, 60% of consumers value brands and retailers which continue to communicate directly with them even after they’ve bought something, and don’t send them to third-party websites for delivery tracking updates.
From Golden Quarter – to happily ever after
To make the most of the Golden Quarter, brands and retailers must take the opportunity to build long-term brand loyalty with thoughtful, convenient and authentic messages from basket to delivery, and beyond. By adopting the right technology, brands and retailers can rest assured that customers’ post-purchase needs are being met in a timely fashion, this Golden Quarter and beyond. On average, returning customers spend 67% more than new customers.
This shows the importance of looking at the holiday as an opportunity to build meaningful, deep-rooted relationships with current and new customers. Post-purchase experiences count for consumers – they need to count for brands and retailers too. Only then will brands and retailers maximise the opportunity that this time of year offers.
By Anthony Gavin, Regional Director EMEA, Narvar.