Originally published January 26, 2018, updated January 9 2020
The yearly onslaught of Christmas and Boxing Day is over (for now) and we’re well into the new year!
Winning during the festive season is critical in the eCommerce world. There’s a lot of opportunities coming up and we want to help you leverage all of them, especially making good use of your post sales experience.
Are you rubbing your hands together in anticipation?
The ever-so-popular Valentine’s Day is coming up on February 14. Valentine’s Day is a day where couples shower each other with gifts to show their appreciation for their partner. In 2019, a new record was set: $20.7 billion on gifts.
However, if your target markets include Asia, you should sit up and pay attention as there are a few other major festivals coming up for you to keep sales high during the festive season:
Chinese New Year
Celebrated in mainland China, Southeast Asia and in Chinese communities in other parts of the world, it is the time to spend time with extended family and friends – travelling, visiting, eating and shopping.
With more than 1.4 billion Chinese globally, this festival is a prime opportunity for retailers both online and offline.
Tet (Lunar New Year in Vietnam)
Tet Nguyen Dan or Tet, also known as the Vietnamese Lunar New Year is the biggest festival in Vietnam. It will be happening on the 25th of January, 2020 as well. It was reported that Vietnam spent $2 billion for the new year, their highest expenditure in the past 3 years.
During Tet, houses are cleaned, fresh food and new clothes are bought. Debts are paid off to have a fresh start to the upcoming year.
Festive periods bring increased sales
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese market during Chinese New Year is abuzz with activity.
In China alone, they spent $149 billion on restaurants, and $73.8 billion on travelling in 2019. There is no doubt that this is the biggest spending holiday for the Chinese. With ecommerce expanding, the Chinese spent 60% more money on online shopping.
Vietnam is no exception.
The ecommerce industry is increasing in Vietnam and they are seeing an increase with the demand of online shopping. 90% of the stores in Vietnam are looking to use online stores to reach out to their customers. Vietnam is also expecting their online sales to hit $10 billion this new year.
Festive opportunities are a prime opportunity for ecommerce merchants to rack in some sales. People are willing to spend more money shopping and looking for retailers who can meet their needs.
How do you, as an e-commerce merchant capitalise on this huge flow of traffic and potential sales?
Answer: Communicate, communicate, communicate
Once an order is placed, your customer has entrusted you with the responsibility to fulfil your side of the bargain. Communicating with your customers is important to driving customer loyalty and building a great relationship.
Customers are keen to find information regarding their orders. Regular, proactive delivery updates are especially crucial to reassure them that their order is on the way.
Especially in the festive season, carriers can struggle with increased delivery load and you may not be able to fulfil orders according to schedule.
While such situations are undesirable, the more tightly they are managed, the less the potential fallout with your customers. Here’s what you can do.
#1: Incorporate Post Purchase Emails
The buck doesn’t stop after the customer confirms the order and puts in their credit card details.
Post purchase emails sees about 80% open rate on delivery status updates. Use these opportunities to upsell other products based on the relevance of their recent purchases with your brand.
Research from customer experience firm Medallia states: “Customers who had the best past experience spend nearly 140% more compared to customers who had the poorest past experience”. Post purchase emails help facilitate positive brand sentiment for your brand and helps keep them informed of their purchase.
When 93% of shoppers expect to receive proactive shipment and delivery updates, this is critical to get right. The most immediate email shoppers expect to receive upon converting to a customer is the order confirmation or purchase receipt. Customers need to know that their order went through, when it will ship, how to track that shipment and what to expect next.
They should also know what to do if they encounter any issues in the meantime.
For example, look at this order confirmation email from Gymshark:
Another email you need to have is the shipping confirmation email
Use these emails to update customers on their order and help them to build trust with your brand.
Consider also including a second email check in after the order has delivered to ensure the order arrived in good condition. Gather feedback and learn about their purchasing experience with your brand. Let your customers know that you value your relationship with them, Customers want to know that you care for them. Convey this by constantly communicating with your customers after checkout.
#2: Consistent company branding on every customer touch-point
When we think about branding, we often think of the obvious opportunities to convert website visitors into leads and customers such as:
- Print collateral
- Social media channels
- Customer presentations and marketing materials
Yes, all these are important and should be a crucial part to think about when thinking about your company’s branding.
One area that many e-commerce merchants do not consider is the post-sales customer experience and the time period between closing the sale and receiving their order.
For instance, how strong is your company’s branding experience on your tracking pages? Usually, customers will visit the logistics carrier’s page to track their order. And yes, this is enough to get by.
However, consider this:
Customers will visit a tracking page multiple times to track their parcels.
Through their frequent visits, they will know more about the carrier – the carrier’s information, branding, and links are all over the carrier’s page.
Wouldn’t you want them to learn more and continue interacting with YOUR company instead?
This is why we provide Branded Tracking Pages for our clients.
Instead of sending your customers away to a generic, faceless carrier page, you’re sending them to a feature-rich page that not only tells them where their parcel is, but one complete with your company logo, links to social media pages or to sign up to your email newsletter, return policy or frequently asked questions.
With one amendment to your customer’s experience, you can make your business regardless of the size or industry look super-amazing and stand out from the pack.
One of our clients, OliveAnkara uses our Branded Tracking Pages to supercharge their post-sale customer experience.
Make sure your tracking page is decorated with appropriate seasonal graphics to create the correct mood and atmosphere.
For example, red symbolises good fortune and joy in Chinese and Vietnamese customs. Research on the different cultural nuances for the two festivals and understand the cultural sensibilities before designing web and marketing materials for Chinese New Year and / or Tet.
#3: Have a comprehensive and clear returns policy
Order returns are not good news.
Not only do you lose money on the initial shipping and order processing, you also lose money from the sale. Businesses are predicted to potentially lose $550 billion by 2020 through return deliveries.
At least 30% of products bought online are returned against 9% bought in brick-and-mortar stores. Furthermore, returns increase by nearly 15% during festive seasons. (Source: Business2Community)
However, this is part and parcel of running an eCommerce business.
Could your return policy be causing you to lose out on higher value customers? 90% of shoppers expect free returns while 62% of shoppers will mostly shop with your store again if offered free returns or exchanges.
How flexible, clear and helpful you are about your return policy can make the difference between retaining or losing a customer.
92% of shoppers say they would buy something again if they are happy with the store’s return policy.
So how do you provide an excellent returns policy?
According to BigCommerce, the best returns policy consists of:
- Don’t hide your policy
- Never (ever, ever, ever) copy and paste
- Use plain English
- Avoid the scary stuff
- Outline what they can expect from you
- Set expectations for your customer
- Educate your staff
- Be prepared to eat the cost of your mistakes
Festive seasons are ripe with opportunity for e-commerce merchants
Your potential customers are in a mood to buy.
They demand for the best possible customer experience. Beyond optimising the obvious customer touch-points like the checkout experience and front-facing elements of your e-commerce store, don’t forget about what happens after you close the sale to keep your festive sales high.
This is where we have built a comprehensive suite of tracking and monitoring capabilities to help you WOW your customers with prompt and speedy delivery notifications and branded tracking pages to showcase your brand identity.
Joshua is the Marketing Manager at Parcel Perform. He loves technology and a good book. Outside of e-commerce and Parcel Perform, you can find him in the kitchen, gym or yoga studio.