Fang Cheng is the CEO of Linc Global, a customer experience automation platform delivering automated experiences at scale.
With no end to the coronavirus pandemic insight, the annual flu season about to kick off and even major players such as Walmart and Target opting to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day, it’s shaping up to be a holiday season unlike any other for retailers.
Brands can’t depend on the traditional massive influx of foot traffic to bolster their bottom lines. That doesn’t mean deal hunters won’t be online in full force looking to score Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains. Retailers need to be ready to scale their businesses for a different kind of holiday shopping season.
Embrace An E-Commerce-First Mentality
More than ever, your e-commerce infrastructure should be bulletproof, and online orders should be the centerpiece of your holiday sales strategy. Embracing an e-commerce-first mentality begins with mapping the typical customer journey across all the various touch points your customers are exposed to when interacting with your brand. Then, you can align the behaviors you expect at these touch points – searching new products on your website, clicking on a digital ad, initiating a return, etc. – with the ways in which your e-commerce strategy and technology can better enable them. This may look like surfacing products based on past browsing, providing personalized landing pages or automating the return process to create a seamless path to purchase for your shoppers.
Make Returns Hassle-Free
Retailers should expect a higher volume of returns than usual this holiday season as shoppers make purchases online that they would previously have bought in person, but without the benefit of trying on items or a hands-on examination of the product. Your return process needs to be as seamless as possible for the customer.
One way to do that is to ensure constant communication, from return authorization to when the return arrives at the warehouse. You can allow your customers to initiate their returns on your website and collect all of the return data within a streamlined return workflow. You can also provide a printable return label at the end of the process and give an expected processing time. Give customers options on tracking their return via email or text – leveraging the shipper’s own delivery tracking infrastructure as needed – and offer a notification when the return has been received and when the refund has been processed. This closes the loop with the customer and provides peace of mind.
Consider Implementing On-Site Chat
Beyond being a revenue generator and competitive differentiator, live chat is a key piece in successfully scaling to meet customer demand this holiday season. Shoppers are exploring every avenue to reduce the risk of an incorrect purchase. They want answers to their questions upfront and they are less willing to take a chance on a bargain – especially deals on impulse buys – than they were before the pandemic. Web chat driven by AI can allow for engagement before buying and