Picture Black Friday in your mind.
You aren’t alone if your first thought is an avalanche of shoppers banging down department store doors. Those 70%-off deals won’t be there forever, after all.
While those wild in-store rushes won’t end anytime soon, they look a little different in the age of omnichannel. For one, 84% of consumers expect to research products on their mobile phone before they complete their purchase. While most consumers lean towards mobile at the outset, they actually plan to do the majority of their shopping in stores.
Regardless of where shoppers complete their purchases, they expect the same shopping experience on their phones, desktops and in stores. If you don’t embrace all aspects of the omnichannel experience, you won’t succeed with today’s customers.
So are you ready for Black Friday to go full omnichannel? Here are a few tips to consider.
Software Bugs Leave Financial Bruises
Following the 2018 holiday season, Applause conducted a detailed assessment of 52 of the world’s top retailers, found in the 2019 Retail Quality Report. The Applause Community evaluated each retailer on the functionality, user experience and maturity of their omnichannel experience. Ultimately, our testers found over 3,000 bugs in production, highlighting issues such as:
- Functional errors
- Poor search relevancy
- Slow website speeds
More than half of the reported bugs were severe enough to prevent shoppers from completing their purchase. These bugs alone resulted in the potential loss of over $60M in revenue during the 2018 holiday season. You cannot afford to let these errors reach your customers. A passive approach will leave money on the table and a poor taste in shoppers’ mouths.
Avoid this scenario by testing your digital experience earlier in the SDLC, in the real-world situations that best apply to your customers. With feedback delivered from real people on their own devices, you can quickly expand your test coverage and address high-priority bugs before they impact your customers when it matters most.
Make Everything Available Online
One of the biggest limitations to in-store shopping is consumers’ uncertainty about stock availability. Consider these two statistics:
- Retailers lost an estimated $686B in 2018 due to out-of-stock items, according to the Wall Street Journal
- A whopping 67% of shoppers that leave a store without a purchase say they could not find the product they needed, per iVend Retail
Implement an endless aisle feature in your stores to get around these stock availability issues. Ensure customers can view and purchase your entire catalog of items in an easy-to-use kiosk. This prevents customer frustration that comes from out-of-stock items.
The level of success you achieve here depends on how rigorously you test this endless aisle experience before rolling it out into production. In-house product teams have their own idea of what an intuitive experience looks like, but only real shoppers can validate this. By leveraging testers that match your ideal customer profile, you can capture a fresh perspective and truly judge if an experience is intuitive. Don’t let your endless aisle result in endless problems.
Ensure Your Staff is Aligned with Online Experiences
Customers have more options than ever before. That includes buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) and buy online, return in store (BORIS). Both BOPIS and BORIS are common omnichannel methods, and customers expect to have a unified experience throughout the buying cycle.
Train in-store staff to work closely with your digital channels. An in-store associate should know how to resolve customer problems efficiently – and yet, many stores are not up to the challenge. Customers commonly report that staff take too long or lack the experience to process omnichannel returns.
Take a two-pronged approach to solve this issue. First, add mandatory training sessions for in-store staff to ensure they know how to use the technology. Second, consider the intuitiveness of your internal applications and processes. Is this an easy tool to use for a sales rep with limited background in business technology?
The last thing you want is for employees to struggle during the most important day of the year. Enlist the help of vetted testers to carry out real pickups and returns so you can evaluate employee readiness in real time. The feedback you receive from your actual customers will be invaluable to make the necessary adjustments in time for the rush.
Black Friday rushes won’t end anytime soon, but the shopping experience will continue to evolve. Don’t be the Grinch that ruins holiday shopping for the masses. Prepare accordingly and your customers will be singing your praises.