Speed, cost, and seasonal increase in volume are the biggest holiday shopping season pain points for retailers.
This according to a new survey by Simplr, which looked at the pulse of small-medium sized e-commerce retailers handling customer service inquiries to determine how businesses were getting ready for the holiday shopping season. The survey also identified opportunities and challenges facing online retailers.
Many of today’s retailers are small businesses who have a brick and mortar and online presence. Addressing the customer service needs for both segments is equally important, but handling customers who may be on the other side of the world requires different tool sets.
In an emailed press release, Eng Tan, CEO of Simplr, said the survey wanted to understand how businesses approached the holidays, especially the growing contingency of businesses online.
Tan adds, “Our goal with this survey was to obtain data around the pain points and opportunities that small-medium sized businesses are seeing, particularly around areas that customer support touches, that can be leveraged to better understand the challenges they are seeing and how services like Simplr or others in the ecosystem can step in to help.”
More Online Holiday Season Retail Pain Points
When you are able to identify the pain points of your business, you can remove them. This will make your company more efficient, especially during the upcoming busy holiday shopping season.
The survey reveals the holiday season can start in October or November, with 35% stating it is the former and 37% the latter. The fluctuation can be responsible for having too much inventory or missing on sale opportunities because it is too low.
This is pointed out by another survey question regarding when the holiday shopping season ends for businesses. Forty-eight percent said in December, while an almost equal number or 47% said January.
Simplr says it is important to ramp up for the holiday season as early as possible because staying competitive means being ready.
When it comes to the most time-consuming actions for an online business 62% said it was fulfilling orders, followed by 48% who said processing online orders. Another 37% said it was processing returns and 38% stating it was customer chat support addressing online orders.
According to Simplr it is important to address these support related tasks because they are a big opportunity for online retailers to build their brands.
How are businesses engage with their customers when it comes to customer service? The primary method of inbound customer service requests and issues was addressed by email and phone for 92 and 83 percent of the respondents respectively.
However, a growing number of businesses or 43% are using chat or a combination of either email or call and chat.
Of those companies who use chat, 80% said it was being carried out on the company website. Being able to handle chat conversation on a company site gives businesses the ability to respond to requests immediately.
For small businesses with a limited workforce, this is an affordable option for delivering live customer support in order to stay competitive.
So why are Speed (51%), cost (48%) and seasonal increase in volume (45%) the biggest holiday shopping season pain points for retailers? For small retailers, Simplr says the great opportunities the season offers is a burden on small support teams.
This requires hiring part-time seasonal workers, which adds more cost. But having more people may not always deliver because it takes that much longer for the new hires to jump right into taking support tickets, which can impact customer experience.
Simplr provides US-based customer service which can be scaled up or down depending on the volume to address the needs of e-commerce startups and other businesses.
In addition to the survey, Simplr has developed a guide for getting ready for the holiday shopping season with planning, best practices and more. You can access The E-Commerce Entrepreneur’s Guide to Crushing the 2018 Holidays, here.