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The 2010 Retail Holiday Season: Will Shoppers’ Changing Preferences Expose Service Gaps? (Part 3)

 

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we provided insight on 2010 purchasing trends and spending predictions – hoping to shed light on the projects retail service organizations need to prioritize in 2011. We suggested that readers assess their self-service and find out how they stack-up among competitors by taking the free Multi-Channel Customer Service Delivery Interactive Benchmark Assessment (expires on 12.09.10).

Before we delve into mobile trends, here’s a quick look at some of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday numbers:

  • According to analyst firm comScore, Cyber Monday reached $1.028 billion in online spending, up 16 percent versus year ago, representing the heaviest online spending day in history and the first to surpass the billion-dollar threshold.
  • According to the National Retail Federation, Black Friday shoppers spent an average of $365.34, up from last year's average of $343.31. Total spending is estimated at $45 billion, up from $41.2 billion last year. NRF reports that by 4 a.m. nearly one-fourth (24.0%) of Black Friday shoppers were already at the stores.
  • Retail Decisions reports that Black Friday will be the busiest online shopping day in the US, up 52% to $4.7 billion
  • This week, comScore reported that for the holiday season-to-date, $13.55 billion has been spent online, marking a 13-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.

Although e-commerce has dominated much of the discussion on behavioral trends this year, retailers are undoubtedly paying close attention the m-commerce story to determine what they need to accomplish with this channel before the 2011 peak season.  

Deloitte’s 25th annual survey of consumer spending intentions and trends finds that among all survey respondents, nearly one out of five plan to use their mobile phones at some point during the holiday shopping process to:

  • Compare prices (56%)
  • Find store locations (54%)
  • Look for product information (46%)
  • Shop (42%)
  • Access online reviews (39%)

According to IDC Retail Insights, mobile shopping "warriors" (hyper-connected individuals) and mobile shopping "warrior wannabes" (moderately connected individuals) will account for 28 percent or $127 billion of the $447 billion predicted to be spent during the 2010 holiday season. More than one third of smartphone-carrying consumers are ready to use their mobile devices in ways that transform how they shop.

IDC finds that consumers using multiple channels sequentially as they move from Web to store will give way to concurrent omnichannel behaviors as consumers bring their comfortable use of m-commerce with them into the store. The firm mentions that m-commerce competence now greatly influences consumer perceptions about the retail brand.

And the Yahoo! and Nielsen Mobile Framework Study reports that:

  • 9 out of 10 mobile users access the mobile Web in a store and demonstrate behaviors that are already far ahead of the mobile ecosystem.
  • About half of all mobile Web activity in a store is related to shopping.
  • Only 16% of consumers use their phones for shopping research, but 57% of mobile internet users express interest in doing so in the coming year.

Nielsen says that by 2011 smartphones will outnumber feature phones in the U.S.

Commenting on its recent study, NRF president and CEO Matt Shay sums up the importance of the mobile channel: "Consumers want to be able to connect with their favorite retailers in a way they never have been able to before—instantaneously. The emergence of m-commerce has created a paradigm shift that has the retail industry very excited." 

Prioritizing the mobile channel in 2011

Integrating the mobile channel into an effective multi-channel service delivery framework becomes a critical priority when looking at 2010 retail trends and projections for adoption in 2011. Gartner makes the planning assumption that by 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most-common Web access device worldwide. By 2015, context will be as influential to mobile consumer services and relationships as search engines are to the Web.

For retailers, smartphone applications open the door to new touch points, self-service enhancements, increased up-sell opportunities and greater satisfaction. With the right smartphone platform, they can leverage applications for customer self-service, location-based services, account management, quick access to “live” assistance, and one-to-one marketing.

With 80 percent of consumers monitoring price wars this season, and millions of customers looking for answers via mobile phones, having the capability to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time is paramount.

In part 4, the final installment of this series, we will look at the relevance of social media in 2010…and beyond.

Until then, we’d like your insight on the price warfare trend – does it enable you to truly strengthen customer relationships, or does it just heighten expectations for increasingly larger discounts?

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