The holiday season is the single most crucial time of year for retailers. From Black Friday, all the way up to Christmas, sales skyrocket as consumers rush to make savings on gifts for friends, family, or themselves. Black Friday 2021 was one of the biggest yet. In the US alone, it saw 88 million online shoppers and 66.5 million in-store shoppers. Making the most of this huge surge in demand is a herculean task. Discover how omni-channel retail enables you to deliver customer experiences that meet the high standards of consumers this Black Friday and throughout the 2022 seasonal period.
What to expect from Black Friday 2022
As inflation grows, many households look to tighten the purse strings. Despite this, the total online spend for the holiday season is estimated to exceed $209 billion, with $2.6 billion being spent between the hours of 7pm-11pm on Black Friday alone.
What trends can be drawn about 2022’s holiday season, then?
Increased social media shopping: Digital channels are growing more important. In 2021, 56% of customers used social media to discover Black Friday deals, with 50% making purchases on their smartphone, and 27% opting for hybrid online/in-store shopping experiences.
Continued global supply chain issues: Items going out-of-stock, particularly for electronics retailers. In 2021, 40% of electronics were out-of-stock, and out-of-stock messages were up by 50% overall.
Lower consumer turnout: Adobe’s Holiday Shopping Forecast predicts a weaker YoY sales growth of only 2.5%, compared to 8.6% in 2021.
The November-December holidays are an unmissable opportunity for retailers. With omni-channel retail experiences becoming the new normal, what can Black Friday retailers do to prepare?
What is omni-channel retail?
Omni-channel retail experiences cross the boundaries of the physical and the digital, are conducted over multiple channels, and leverage customer data to create personalized experiences. In other words, the omni-channel shopping experience can begin online and end in-store, vice versa, or even alternate between the two. It takes the form the customer feels most comfortable with; whether digital or in-person.
Creating a memorable omni-channel retail experience requires four things:
Flexibility across channels
Intelligent automation that supports your agents
If you can perfect omni-channel retail, you can make a success of Black Friday and the rest of the holiday season. How can your business deliver these four crucial elements of the omni-channel retail experience, and what are the benefits of doing so?
Scaling for the holiday season
The first, and most essential step in preparing for Black Friday is ensuring that your contact center is scalable. When demand spikes during the holiday season, you can’t afford to let even a single call drop. If your CX infrastructure still hinges on an on-prem solution, you may struggle to add the capacity necessary to meet demand. A cloud-based contact center, which enables your agents to work flexibly, is essential here. This contact center should have exceptional availability, to ensure that you are available to your customers at all times throughout the holiday season.
Mastering omni-channel customer journeys
The second step is to master the art of the omni-channel shopping journey. Whether your customers want to buy online and pick up in-store, or browse in person before placing an order online, you need to be ready to accommodate that. The customer journey should be seamless across platforms.
In the frenzied atmosphere of the holiday season, when customers face time pressure to secure the best deals before they sell out, providing instant contact in the event of a problem is essential. Social media, SMS, web chat, or voice calls; customers will expect to be able to contact your business over any of these. You have to empower your agents to respond instantly, and to handle interactions that move over multiple channels.
Making the most of customer data
The third step is to put customer data at the core of every interaction. Customer data should be stored centrally and collected from every channel, allowing the customer to pick up where they left off. Any employee that interacts with the customer should have instant access to this data. This will enable staff to deliver personalized greetings, helpful recommendations, and to know instantly whether they have previously reported a problem. A comforting, memorable experience during the holiday season can turn a customer from a bargain hunter into a loyal customer for life.
The final step is automation. Black Friday and the seasonal period are defined by pressure. Delivering outstanding CX when your agents are (sometimes literally) overwhelmed might seem impossible, but there are ways around this issue. An AI-backed Machine Agent can automate certain simple inquiries, allowing your human agents to deal only with the most complex.
An accessible knowledge base, structured by intelligent decision trees, allow your customers to self-serve throughout the year. An online chatbot equipped with Natural Language Processing (NLP) can comprehend unstructured speech, and provide customers with instant answers. When equipped with customer data, speedy, automated resolutions become even easier. Pressure on your staff is lifted, without compromising on exceptional CX.
Deliver seamless omni-channel retail experiences this Black Friday with Content Guru and storm®
If you’re keen to build a scalable contact center to power outstanding omni-channel retail experiences this Black Friday, Content Guru stands ready to help. Providers of the world’s leading high-volume cloud contact center with the storm® platform, there is no better choice for building scalability this holiday season.
With storm® CONTACT™, you can bring every contact channel together into a single seamless CX solution. Your agents can access the fluid omni-channel functionality of storm within Content Guru’s browser-based interface storm DTA®.
To put customer data at the heart of your contact center, you need a solution that integrates seamlessly with any existing database. Content Guru’s Customer Data Platform, storm CKS®, combines the benefits of data aggregation, customer journey mapping, customer relationship management and knowledge management. storm CKS is an invaluable addition to any CX solution, enabling organizations to harness their existing data and transform it into actionable insights about their business. With brain®, Content Guru’s AI toolkit, you can set up Machine Agents™ to automate simple tasks, freeing your human staff to focus on higher value activities.
storm offers all this, and much more. Successful omni-channel retail also requires a powerful Workforce Management solution, and secure payments that give your customers confidence. For a deeper dive into the world of omni-channel retail, download Content Guru’s complete whitepaper below.