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If retailers could ask for one gift this year, it would be for certainty. Unfortunately, the 2020 holiday season is likely to be as unpredictable as everything else has been this year.
With COVID-19 still in full swing, the pandemic is sure to change the way people go about their holiday shopping. The good news is that retailers already have months of experience selling in this new environment. The bad news? No one fully knows what the “new” holiday season will look like, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and how they can best serve customer needs to maximize revenue opportunities.
Three key trends that should drive your 2020 holiday plans
E-commerce is the new normal
While in-store sales won’t go away, retailers will likely see record e-commerce sales this holiday season. Online holiday sales are expected to increase 25%-35% for 2020, compared to 13.6% growth last year. Shoppers will avoid malls, preferring to do all their shopping online and having products shipped to their houses or dropped at the curbside. Because of this, retailer contact centers will need to quickly scale their operations to handle a massive influx of customer questions about orders, product availability, returns, and other customer service issues that would usually be handled in-store.
All your channels, all together
The challenges of selling during a pandemic have laid bare the risks of siloed sales, marketing, and service channels. When one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, it can lead to a poor customer experience that causes shoppers to go elsewhere. Retailers need to improve their ability to access and share real-time customer data to enable omnichannel fulfillment. And because 41% of shoppers say they don’t plan to shop any earlier for holiday gifts this year, retailers will have to do more with very little time. Retail contact centers should be connected to data sources like e-commerce, supply chains, shipping companies, in-store operations, and more so that staff can provide a holistic, frustration-free experience when customers reach out for help.
Making the holidays personal
2020 might finally be the demise of the “one-size-fits-all” approach to customer service. A survey shows that 82% of shoppers expect retailers to accommodate their personal preferences and expectations, with 70% highly likely to purchase exclusively from brands that show they understand them. However, with stricter in-store traffic and social distancing guidelines, getting “up close and personal” with customers this holiday season is a no-go. (Or at the very least, will look very different.) Retail contact centers will need to pick up the slack by offering greater service personalization, using personal, behavioral, and other contextual data, to provide customers a unique, one-to-one experience when they call or text for information.
If you want to get on shoppers’ nice lists this holiday season, it’s time to double-down on your contact center. To learn more, download the eBook 5 Predictions That Will Reimagine the Retail Contact Center Forever. You’ll learn more about the trends impacting the holiday season and beyond, and how your contact center can help you deliver a winning customer experience in a post-COVID world.