Make the holiday shopping season merry with great retail CX
The holiday season is upon us, and consumers are ready to spend. Here's what retailers need to consider to create better CX during the busiest time of the year.
Last updated November 28, 2022
It’s the most wonderful time of the year—the holiday season is finally here. After the chaos and uncertainty of the past few years, with supply chain woes, staffing shortages, and inflationary pressures, there is some good news for the retail industry. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that holiday sales will be healthy this year.
What’s more, many of those sales will come from ecommerce. NRF expects that ecommerce will boom. Last year’s holiday sales totaled $238.9 billion, and this year is forecast to be $267.6 billion. This extraordinary growth in digital channels is linked to the consumer trend of shopping online to buy holiday gifts during the pandemic. This year, ecommerce will still be important, and consumers are also expected to head back into brick-and-mortar stores to do their shopping. This blended consumer experience will continue throughout the holiday season and into the new year, and it brings big opportunities for retailers to create excellent customer experiences across channels.
If it feels like the holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier every year, that’s because it does. Merchants are discounting with seasonal sales to capture consumer demand as early as they can. Why? People are spreading out their holiday shopping to keep credit card bills steady as inflation drives up prices. NRF anticipates retailers will hire between 450,000 and 600,000 seasonal workers to keep up with the flurry of extended holiday shopping. That’s down from 669,800 seasonal hires in 2021, although NRF says some of the hiring may have been drawn into October as retailers try to keep up with earlier shopping demand.
The implication is clear: Retailers must do more with less to make the holidays bright in 2022. Here are three things retailers need to consider right now to create better CX during the busiest time of the year.
Manage ticket volume spikes with the power of AI
The more people shop online, the more people will reach out to customer service with questions about returns and exchanges, size charts, shipping delays and updates, and the like. When AI is implemented in retail customer service, shoppers can often get quick answers to simple questions like “Where is my order?” on the channel of their choice. You can deflect common requests with a conversational bot 24/7 and free up agents’ time, so they can focus on high-value customer interactions. Customers get quicker answers, and agents can devote more time to helping customers.
Pro tip: Dive into your data to see real-time purchase trends and take the guesswork out of the holiday shopping season. Using Zendesk, you can tailor offers, provide discounts, and personalize recommendations for your customers at the right time to capture the magic (and the sale).
Tap into shopatainment
Part art, part game show, part ecommerce, shopatainment is the latest trend hitting the retail industry. Connecting with consumers through video on platforms like TikTok can be a powerful way to amplify your brand and make sales. It can also be an easy way for companies to show their human side and capture those “awwwwww” moments that drive affinity. Starbucks goes beyond traditional marketing and promotions on its TikTok feed to showcase baristas going above and beyond for customers in a truly heartwarming way.
Pro tip: People love to buy from brands that align with their values. For the first time, purpose-driven consumers topped value-driven consumers—meaning more people are shopping with brands because of their ideologies. When you put a human face to your brand, talk about environmental impact, and speak up for social issues on social media, you’ll capture attention (and brand loyalty) from otherwise fickle shoppers.
Use messaging to deliver better customer service experiences
We know that shoppers want to connect with companies on the channels they already use to talk with friends and family, and that means messaging apps. Messaging is a convenient channel for customers and agents, and people who buy online are more likely to seek out help via digital channels.
Pro tip: With the rising popularity of social messaging channels—like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram—as service channels, companies are opening the conversational floodgates. Customers want interactions with brands to feel authentic, and messaging is a great way to deliver at scale. You can integrate chatbots into your messaging apps to deliver automated but still personalized experiences that set your business apart from the competition.