Getting Ready for Singles’ Day 2015: Dealing with Post-Singles’ Day Challenges
The sheer size of Singles’ Day introduces its own fair share of challenges that can extend well beyond the shopping holiday. From dips in sales to substandard delivery processes, brands and merchants need to be able to address these concerns early on or risk losing the momentum afforded by Singles’ Day.
2015’s Singles’ Day has come and gone, and as many doubtless expected, it has smashed all records. With $3.9 billion USD raked in in the first hour for a final tally of $14.3 billion USD and 467 million delivery orders, the event has driven home yet again the power and potential of online shopping. But for retailers, these tremendous figures come with a multitude of challenges.
The after-sales experience of your customers is just as important as their pre-sales one. This is especially true during high-traffic seasons such as Singles’ Day. But the sudden spike in sales traffic can lead to a rise in after-sales concerns that need to be addressed quickly and efficiently in order to protect the integrity of your brand. Whether it’s in fulfillment, product returns, or after-sales support, these are the aspects of retail that all contribute towards a positive customer experience.
Merchants and retailers can expect a lot of first-time buyers during Singles’ Day, but the challenge lies in making sure that those additional customers ultimately convert into return sales through a healthy, positive relationship with your brand.
Create a Positive After-Sales Experience through Streamlined Logistics
Logistics takes the lead during the post-transaction process. As soon as sales are processed, online shoppers expect their orders to arrive in a timely, hassle-free manner. A majority of after-sales issues are often due to problematic order fulfillment, late delivery, and other logistics and shipping concerns.
As the eCommerce market continues to grow, so does the importance of a streamlined logistics pipeline. China, a major eCommerce market with projected sales of more than $670 million USD by the end of 2015, is now ramping up its infrastructure to accommodate better logistics for its growing online retail market. Brands aiming to expand in the Asia Pacific region should be able to quickly scale to match the demands of the Singles’ Day rush. Last minute buyers are a common case during any shopping holiday, and brands should be able to be transparent with delivery times and schedules in order to uphold their reputation and maintain their end of the SLAs with customers.
Establish a Reliable and Clear Return and Delivery Policy
Customer disputes and purchase returns are often unavoidable in the retail space. Whether the concern is born from defective merchandise or misplaced orders, the inherent challenge lies in addressing these problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. And though returns are often frowned upon by brands, a clear and streamlined return and delivery policy presents a unique opportunity to maintain goodwill among existing customers.
A solid return and delivery policy not only strengthens customer loyalty and buyer confidence, but also encourages repeat sales under the premise that consumer interest is protected by your brand. But in order to deal with the higher than average volume of returns post-Singles’ Day, it is, once again, advisable to be transparent with your delivery times, or additional shipping fees. This helps avoid unnecessary disputes while protecting the overall customer experience.
Leverage on an Omnichannel Strategy to Provide Better Service to Your Customers
The omnichannel retail model has opened up new opportunities for brands to interact with and service customers. This also holds true when it comes to order fulfillment and after-sales support. Brands can widen their reach and accessibility by weaving their logistics pipeline across mobile, web and even physical retail. As eCommerce introduces new ways to connect with customers, it only follows that brands find new ways to extend their after-sales support to these new channels as well.
Online retailers with brick-and-mortar stores can use their physical outlets as additional touch points to settle customer disputes and product returns. This allows brands to avoid bottlenecking product returns and deliveries, while adding another venue of service for customers. As eCommerce expands, an omnichannel strategy provides an opportunity for your brand to expand, not only in terms of pre-sales but after-sales as well.
Ensure Reliable Payment Processing and Security
Chargebacks sparked by customer disputes and fraudulent activity are another common concern in the online retail space. Avoiding these falls primarily on establishing a secure and reliable payment processing and security system. Brands aiming to reduce chargebacks are advised to keep a record of transaction information which include dates, amounts and other purchase details, in order to quickly resolve chargeback issues.
As mobile payment and transactions increase in popularity, merchants and retailers are also advised to focus on upgrading their mobile security. Tokenization and various card verification protocols can go a long way towards verifying the identity of buyers and ensuring the validity of their purchases.
Security remains a foremost concern among online shoppers, and ultimately lies at the very foundation of a customer-focused company. At the end of the day, the after-sales experience is all part and parcel in putting your customers at the heart of your brand. As another busy Singles’ Day stretch comes to an end, brands must realize that customer-centricity is essential in succeeding in the fast-growing, highly competitive eCommerce market. And in building on the momentum provided by shopping holidays like Singles’ Day, brands need to be ready by addressing the various after-sales challenges, through providing a positive customer experience.
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