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Why the Holiday Rush Doesn’t End in December for Devoted ECommerce Brands

Devoted eCommerce Brands Understand Gifts

A Two-Part Race for Vital Customer Satisfaction

The holidays have always been a critical time of year for businesses online and offline alike.  Nearly every industry experiences a major spike in interest and sales around the holidays.  However, there’s more to the holiday challenge for devoted eCommerce brands than handling the deluge of website traffic, orders, and fulfillment hurdles.  With thousands of orders come hundreds of exchanges, inquiries, and inevitable order imperfections.  For devoted eCommerce brands, though, these post-holiday challenges can actually prove to be as much of an opportunity as a hassle.

One of the most significant challenges for businesses online is making real connections with their customers that bridge the distance that web browsers and digital screens create.  Traditionally, rapport with customers was achieved with excellent in-store service; attentive, educated, and polite staff were the backbone of strategies to win customers’ repeat business.  While having skilled staff is still very important online, many transactions online are handled without any direct communication between a store’s staff and the customer, so it’s the “when” of service that has changed most drastically.  Customers are most likely to have contact with eCommerce store staff when there is an issue with their experience or order.

It’s an unfortunate fact of online business that communication most frequently occurs when there is a hitch, but, thankfully, not all hitches indicate mistakes on the part of businesses, especially around the holidays.  Increased purchases of gifts mean that many gift givers and gift recipients will be making exchanges, whether to resolve duplicate items, color and size preferences, or device compatibility issues (depending on your respective industry.)  These post-holiday interactions are a door to proving yourself to your customers in a genuine way.

Devoted ECommerce Brands Play the Long Game

According to research done by the National Retail Federation, 48% of American consumers will return to stores during the first week of January.  While the statistics for online stores are harder to determine, with a 48% turnout to brick-and-mortar stores, its a very safe bet that there will be similar, if not higher, return and first-time visits to online stores.  With those sort of statistics in mind, it is clear that eCommerce companies can’t afford to ignore the post-holiday rush.  Devoted eCommerce brands, though, should do more than just handle this second surge of customer attention.

It’s all well-and-good to build a comprehensive strategy for handling the holiday rush, but success in eCommerce means looking further than the immediate challenges.  Companies who develop a strategy for the very different challenges present in the week after the end of the holiday season are going to come out with a big advantage that plays to the long-term.  To illustrate some examples of how a strategy could build long-term sales and valuable customer relationships, here are a few examples of likely situations:

Gift Card Customers

Gift Cards Are Vital for Devoted eCommerce Brands

Customers who purchased a gift card in your store are unlikely to show up again during the post-holiday weeks (unless they’re buying something unrelated to the holidays.)  However, the recipient of the gift card is very likely to show up, and there is a good chance that these customers are going to be first-time visitors to your store.  Gift card customers are especially valuable to eCommerce stores because they are likely to spend considerably more on their first visit.  According to Giftcards.com, customers with gift cards often spend 20% more when they shop with a gift card, both because they want to use all of the gift card’s value, but also because they perceive they are getting more for less even when they overspend the value on the card.

Catering to these customers is a simple process of being ready to welcome them and effectively answer their questions.  Keep in mind that some gift card customers will be totally new to eCommerce as a whole, so the more welcoming you can be, the better.  Have your customer service solutions particularly robust in the weeks after the holidays to handle extra valuable customer questions!

Customers with Minor Exchanges

Customers returning to your store with minor exchanges, like the need to get a different size of shirt or a different color smartphone charger, are likely to be looking for two things: speed and accuracy.  To win these customers hearts, the more smoothly you can get them the right item, the more they’ll remember you.  If you’ve ever bought a gift for someone online, only to discover the sizing was different than you predicted, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with lengthy exchange processes.  Additionally, no one likes to wait longer than they have to for their holiday gifts!  In most cases, gift recipients who are doing an exchange really want to use their gift, and the faster you can get it into their hands, the bigger an impression that will make on them to return later for other purchases.

These types of minor exchanges are where Amazon has won so much reputation.  Returns and exchanges on Amazon products are often as simple as click, print, and mail.  No lengthy questionnaires or long calls to customer service.

Customers with Product and Fulfillment Issues

No company is perfect nor is any product.  At some point, a product or shipping issue will arise, and it’s how devoted eCommerce brands handle these that can make or break many customer relationships.  In almost all cases, it’s best to err on the side of the customer.  If it’s a small product, it’s probably more valuable for you to simply send an immediate replacement.  A customer’s return business and satisfaction are going to mean a lot, especially when tied to the holidays.  Holidays stick in our memories, and, when the holidays come back around next year, a customer is likely to remember the experiences they had with every company they ordered from.  Make it count.

Keeping an eye on the big picture around the holidays is so important for both established and aspiring brands, but building a strategy that leaves customer’s with good memories isn’t always straightforward, even for devoted eCommerce brands.  1Digital is ready to help you close out the holidays in style by working with you to build effective strategies — and the technology to implement them.  Contact 1Digital today: info@1digitalagency.com!

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