The Importance of Customer Experience this Holiday Season

Conor McGrath
Conor McGrath
Managing Director, Head of UK & Nordic Clients at parcelLab

“More deliberate purchasing” requires an urgent step change in retail customer experience to avoid a cancelled Christmas, says Conor McGrath, Managing Director, Head of UK & Nordic Clients at parcelLab

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown much of what we thought we knew about consumers’ shopping habits into somewhat of a whirlwind. The high street is still suffering from the fallout of a three-month hiatus and now the hospitality industry has experienced a further blow in the past week following the Prime Minister’s announcement to implement a 10pm curfew for closing time. With fears of a second lockdown hanging in the balance, the big question on retailers’ lips is: “Does this mean Christmas is cancelled?”

The UK has now officially been declared in a recession for the first time in 11 years, and with the end of the furlough scheme set to bring a further wave of job losses across many industries by the end of October, the short- and long-term effects of the virus are likely to continue for at least another six months.

With an air of uncertainty still prevailing across the world of retail, the new shopping habits retailers reacted and adapted to during lockdown, thanks to a boom in online trade, will now require another rethink as shoppers are set to ‘wake up and shake up’ their spending habits, tighten their purse strings and become much more frugal with their purchases.

This shake up is paving the way for “more deliberate purchasing” amongst UK consumers, a phrase which ASOS coined in a recent announcement owing to a “sustained and significant” decline in returns during lockdown and beyond. This shift towards “more deliberate purchasing” is one that is set to continue amongst consumers as we navigate through further uncertainty and enter the peak season.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers will stop spending altogether. With customers now becoming much more discerning when it comes to making purchases, the importance of a great customer experience is perhaps more important than ever. Retailers are rethinking their marketing to focus on getting customers on their site rather than in their stores and this means that brands need to create a digital experience that contends with the instant gratification that consumers are used to when buying in-store.

This means making sure your post-purchase e-commerce offering is up to scratch. It’s never been more important to keep your customers informed yet many retailers don’t have control over what emails their delivery partners are sending, the volume or quality of the communication. Brands need to be sending proactive, customer-focused emails to keep customers engaged and excited to receive their product – especially if it’s something they have specifically or, to link back to the earlier phrase, ‘deliberately’ chosen to purchase.

In this uncertain environment, engaging with your customers through such an important communications channel enables you to connect with your customers on a personal level. By utilizing this valuable marketing opportunity to share relevant information and content, this will ensure that the post-sales experience they receive from the brand or retailer directly leaves them with a positive impression.

There’s no doubt that during this peak season, brands will be in unfamiliar waters. But let’s not let Christmas 2020 go down in history for all the wrong reasons.

Investing in your post-sales experience will ensure that all customers receive regular, relevant updates on the whereabouts of their orders. It will not only set you apart from the competition but help to build loyalty, gain valuable feedback and drive repeat purchases, not just now but well into the future. And given the position the global pandemic has left us in, we all know that retaining existing customers is perhaps more crucial than ever before.

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