5 Tips for the SME Retailer This Christmas

Silvia Planella/ October 20, 2014/ blog

Let’s face it, even in October retailers have one eye on Christmas, despite the Halloween buzz. Experts agree that Christmas is starting earlier and earlier every year. “As recently as 2009, we didn’t even launch our Black Friday site until early November. In 2013, we’d miss half the season if we did that,” [Brad Wilson, CEO and founder of BradsDeals.com].

It has been described as the “holiday creep” and it’s real. As SME’s gear up for this ever expanding season they must gain as many competitive advantages as possible over the large MNC’s (multinational companies) that flex their muscles at this time of year. Christmas is not all about expensive ad campaigns or slashing prices to bring in trade. If you put your time and efforts into a few simple practices you can compete for customers and (as some forget) actually relax this Christmas.

Here are 5 tips to aid your efforts:

Match your offers with customers’ expectations

There is no point offering great ‘buy one get one free’ deals if your customers are more interested in shipping costs. It’s a trap that can be easily avoided if you pay attention to your customers. London-based software company OrderDynamics discovered the mismatch in service and expectation. [The report “Customer Relationships: The rules of attraction,” is available online.]

As seen from the chart above delivery is a big thing for customers nowadays. If you can display ‘Same day delivery’ on your website you get a competitive advantage. Also, it seems that companies need to have better interaction between their website and stock. Today your website needs to be up to date consistently; it helps keep your customers’ expectations at a manageable level which avoids confusion and irritation.

Omni-channel

It’s a real buzz word right now. More than two-thirds of shoppers are considered Omni-channel consumers. Modern day buyers are now researching and purchasing over a wide array of channels. 43% of all spending will be online, up from 42% last year [Source: USA today].

One channel you can utilise to ‘one up’ your competitors is live-chat. 90% of consumers will always check a website before e-mailing or calling a company (Source: Synthetix, 2014) and having an instant messaging service on your website will guarantee a reduction in shopping cart abandonment. Online customer service (live chat) improves the chance of a purchase by 40%-60%! [Source: www.velaro.com]. If you outsource this live chat facility to a call centre you can relax in the knowledge that even when you’re asleep your customer’s queries are being answered within seconds.

Provide After-sales Support

The sale is done another satisfied customer, now on to the next one… It’s not that simple. A customer’s lifecycle is as long as the support they receive and you must support them appropriately with regards to refunds, deliveries, exchanges, etc. Treat customers well post sale and you have a loyal customer, fail to do this and the bad reviews will flow. 90% Of Customers Say Buying Decisions Are Influenced By Online Reviews [survey conducted by Dimensional Research]. A call centre can relieve the stress on your in-house team by housing your customer support needs not only post-sale but pre-sale information lines also. By outsourcing to a call centre this Christmas you can avail of overflow cover if you’re expecting an influx of enquiries (45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. [Source: Forrester]).

Keeping Customers after Christmas

Unless you are a Christmas-centric retailer it must be a goal to keep a percentage of your customers’ post-Christmas. It is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer [Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs]. Try getting their email address when they are purchasing to advise them on future sales and/or services. It links back to post-sales support, by supporting and communicating with your customer via email after the sale you can build a great long lasting relationship and therefore repeat business. Email support, however, needs to be quick, within one hour is expected. If this is a struggle you can avail of the email services in a call centre who have dedicated teams for such things and it reduces training/hiring costs.

Plan Ahead

This may seem obvious but it’s not how much you plan it’s how efficient your planning is. Find a trustworthy BPO company such as a call centre to team up with this Christmas. You will find that it will let you concentrate on the day to day running of the business and help the overall process run smoother.

Now is the time where you can gain a real competitive advantage for your business. By creating a relationship with a call centre your business will be able to handle what comes this Christmas and beyond. Above all, it will allow you to compete on more platforms for customers and give you more time to enjoy the holidays.

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