It seems that every year, the preparations for Christmas start earlier and earlier. As the famously anticipated John Lewis Christmas advert was released this morning it has become apparent that Christmas festivities have already set in.
Research from Hall & Partners shows that early bird shoppers spend £325 on average more, versus £269 for last minute shoppers. numero therefore believes that now is the time to prepare for those organised shoppers and offer the customer experience and service they expect during this busy season. Understanding your customers’ needs in advance can help to plan for a successful and busier festive season than previous years.
Although many consumers will still make the traditional shopping trip to the high street, 77 percent of the total spend over Christmas 2013 came from online purchases. Online shopping has become an essential part of preparing for Christmas with 56 percent of shoppers saying it is now the only way they would consider to shop. The increase in online shopping is due to the heightened expectations of consumers. Online shopping offers a convenient and 24 hour service, which means they can shop from their laptops at home or even during their morning commute via your smartphone.
numero believe the key factors to succeeding at Christmas are increasing delivery and returns options and ramping up your customer support.
With 72 percent of customers stating that the Post Office was their preferred method for deliveries and returns, they have already scaled up their service to deliver on their customer promise. The Royal Mail have opened eight dedicated sorting centres across the UK, recruited 21,000 extra staff and are planning to keep their Customer Service Points open later in the evenings and on Sundays.
Even though Christmas seems to advertised earlier than before, Christmas shopping demand is in fact peaking later with 63 percent of online shoppers starting their shopping only 2-4 weeks before Christmas. Men in particular seem to leave it later, with a last minute dash around the web only a week before. Therefore it has become increasingly important to have the right delivery options available to meet your customers’ needs and demands. In fact, free delivery is one of the biggest factors driving shoppers to use an etailer at Christmas.
70 percent of online shoppers said they’d be unlikely to shop with an etailer again if they had a difficult experience with delivery and returns services and 46 percent of customers reported that the reason for basket abandonment was because of a delivery factor. Customers now demand clear, guaranteed options with click-and-collect becoming a popular choice, so that they can be confident their gifts will arrive on time. New research has suggested that the value of goods bought online and picked up at collection points will hit £3 billion over the festive season, a 40 per cent jump on last year.
Amazon’s UK operations Director John Tagawa said: “Last year, on the busiest day in the run up to Christmas, our customers ordered 4.1m items – that’s about 47 items ordered per second.” Amazon have already started this year’s preparation by hiring an additional 13,000 temporary workers to help process orders in eight warehouses around the UK.
numero believe that as Christmas approaches, now is the time to prepare so that businesses can offer the best customer service and experience for consumers, increasing brand loyalty.