Connecting with Customers in a Competitive Marketplace: Spotlight on Australia
The declining performance of department stores and the growth in eCommerce have seen retailers realise exactly how critical customer engagement across multiple channels really is. With 32% of Australian consumers now spending as much online, as they do in store – according to the Connecting with Customers Report commissioned by LivePerson – retailers are starting to realise just how important a multi-channel customer strategy is to survival.
In fact, findings from Frost & Sullivan’s recent Online Shopping Market 2013 report for Australia predicts that online spending will reach AU$18 billion by the end of this year. The report also found that roughly 30% of Australian Internet users aged between 15 and 65 have bought physical goods through their smartphones in the last 12 months. Based on these findings it is hard to ignore that fact that investment in multi-channel strategies will allow retailers to enhance their cross-platform offerings and provide consumers with the benefits of an increasingly integrated and online shopping experience.
Don’t be fooled however - it’s not all easy sailing. The Connecting with the Customers report also revealed Australian shoppers are less likely to be satisfied with the customer service they receive online compared to in-store, with 73% of respondents indicating they are satisfied with customer service when shopping in store, and 64% are satisfied with online customer service. Retailers need to maximise the opportunities created by ‘channel blur’ - where there is often inconsistency in the level of service provided to customers across different channels. Retailers need to meet changes in consumer behaviour across different platforms. For example, whilst the mobile platform can often be seen as an add-on, this mind set needs to change given the exponential increase in the number of transactions being processed through this channel. Ultimately, all channels – regardless of platform and audience – need to provide the same look, feel and experience across each.
Customers are also becoming more demanding when it comes to seeking assistance when shopping online - but who can blame them? Retailers need to ensure that a multi-channel strategy isn’t implemented at the detriment of customer service. Adding new channels means new ways for engagement, so resources – both in terms of technology and people – need to be reflective of this. At the moment we are seeing a gap between customer service delivered in-store compared to that online. If you don’t understand what your customers are looking for online, and don’t offer help at the right time through a personalised approach, your customers are less likely to spend time on your site and may even abandon a purchase altogether. In fact, 53% of Australian online consumers will abandon a purchase if help isn’t received within the right time frame, according to the Connecting with the Customers report.
Customer engagement is known to increase customer spend and loyalty, and is paramount in the quest to reduce abandonment rates and enhance website ‘stickiness’. Ultimately, the purchasing decision is down to the customer but, as a retailer, being able to offer intelligent support and guidance in real-time where and how it’s required, such as through a live chat solution, will help create a better and more personalised experience for the customer. In turn, this will close the gap between service delivered online and in-store, ensuring the customer will return to your site, which will prove to be a serious competitive advantage for businesses.