Last year saw extraordinary growth in digital channels as consumers turned to online shopping to meet their holiday needs during the pandemic. However, this year, according to Google and Boston Consulting Group, only 14% of U.S. shoppers say they will not shop in-store this holiday season, meaning a shift back to in-store shopping – and a more traditional holiday shopping experience. So, when and where does the shopping experience begin?
Retailers prepared earlier this year
In a survey done by NRF (National Retail Federation), 69% of retailers said they expected consumers to start their holiday shopping in October, and they were ready to meet this demand with seasonal inventory and promotions.
Additionally, according to WBR Insights’ “The 2021 Future Stores Holiday Report,” 55% of retailers say their biggest workforce management challenge this year will be matching labor schedules to in-store customer demand. As retailers ramped up for the coming extended shopping season, how have consumers experienced their initial holiday shopping?
Key CX takeaways from October’s shopping start
We analyzed over 2.3 million feedback responses from our retail customer satisfaction data during October and discovered the following insights:
Customer satisfaction at a solid level
Customers rated their overall in-store shopping experience at 90.5% satisfaction.
Weekends were below CX average
Customers rated their satisfaction during weekends lower than on weekdays, at 89.1% vs. 91.3% respectively. With higher footfall during weekends, lower satisfaction levels can impact sales numbers.
After work shopping rated lowest CX
Hourly customer satisfaction dropped below the 90.5% average, starting at 3pm and not climbing back up until 7pm.
Customer pain points uncovered
Through the Smiley Touch follow-up feedback options, customers voted their top 5 pain points from in-store shopping as:
- Wait time (32.8%)
- Product availability (23.5%)
- Customer service (17.5%)
- Pricing (16.4%)
- Staff availability (9.8%)
Unsurprisingly, when comparing our voice-of-the-customer data to a study by FullStory, similar trends in customer pain points were identified, like out-of-stock items and sizes (59%) and a scarcity of staff to help in stores (50%).
5 tips to boost sales during peak shopping season
Sales for brick-and-mortar are estimated to grow between 7-9% and sales for e-commerce are estimated to grow by 11-15% this holiday season. Knowing that a happy shopper will spend up to 40 percent more during each visit, the value of knowing how customer satisfaction fluctuates throughout the hours, days, and weeks, plus having the ability to act, cannot be ignored.
With peak holiday shopping just around the corner – starting on Black Friday and continuing throughout December – we’ve used our customer feedback data insights to offer 5 tips to help retailers maximize sales and combat customers’ pain points:
1. Open additional checkout lanes
Plan adequate work-shifts to make sure that you have staff available at checkout during peak traffic hours, especially from 3pm-7pm.
2. Stock up – also with alternatives
Ensure sufficient product stock is available and easily accessible for shoppers. Likewise, train staff to offer suitable alternatives to out-of-stock items. Giving customers options and trying to meet their needs helps maintain satisfaction when you do not have what they initially wanted.
3. Be mindful of the customer’s full journey
Customer service can cover many aspects of a customer’s journey; however, it is typically connected to such areas as staff knowledge, availability, and support, both before and after their purchase. In this sense, it’s important to be able to measure satisfaction at each of your customers’ touch points to ensure you deliver consistently positive experiences.
4. Experience > price
While price may always be a pain point for some, it is important to remember that a great customer service experience can overtake pricing – in fact, as many as 43% of consumers willing to pay more.
5. Cover the floor
Schedule a few extra staff to be present on the store floor, especially during peak footfall hours where satisfaction was shown to be below average (3-7pm) and especially on weekends.