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eCommerce customer support expecting a holiday sales surge in 2020 (+stats)

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

As COVID-19 accelerates trends in eCommerce customer support, businesses can win loyalty during unprecedented traffic in Q4.

eCommerce has been quietly biting off a greater share of the retail market every quarter for years. But with COVID-19 redefining every aspect of our lives, this slow and steady rate of growth has suddenly multiplied many times over, with the adoption of digital, online ordering and delivery became widespread practically overnight. Combine this with a holiday season where shoppers are staying home, and eCommerce customer support is looking at its busiest quarter on record.

What do the upcoming months mean for support departments? It all depends on how prepared you are to handle your wave of new online shoppers. Those hoping to get through the holiday spike by merely forging ahead with the same customer support tactics as 2019 – outsourcing support agents and paying for overtime – may find themselves drowning in a whole new class of customer demands. But agile eCommerce customer support departments that are ready for this flood of new shoppers aren’t just looking at a lucrative Q4, but a pivotal year for the future of their business. Read this report to learn where eComm is heading, the strategies needed to win new online markets, and tools to help you do it.

eComm-unication is key

Every year, the US Census Bureau reliably shows eCommerce gaining an average of 1% of the total retail market. While the pandemic disrupted consumer purchasing patterns on a global scale, basic eCommerce customer support was already in place. Now, many of these occasional eCommerce shoppers are also purchasing groceries, medical supplies, beauty goods, and home entertainment products online. In the past quarter alone, eCommerce market share shot up by a staggering 4.3% putting it at a record 16.1% of all retail purchases.

This spike in online shopping is already leading to a flood of new eCommerce customer support issues. As ‘channel-agnostic’ consumers try new patterns and products, they look for credible guidance and to aid with purchasing decisions. Many are conducting their own research, while others are asking new questions, such as ‘Will there be shipping delays this Christmas?’ or ‘Is receiving packages in the mail hygienic?’

Last year online research increased by 4.5% in October, but with consumer patterns disrupted the number of search queries is already on the rise. As we enter retail’s Golden Quarter, forecasts show no signs of the tide slowing. A recent survey commissioned by Google shows that 74% of shoppers already plan to do more shopping online this holiday season.

eCommerce customer support can help new shoppers eliminate the guesswork by using self-service to tame the tidal wave of incoming questions. Setting up a digital ‘knowledge base’ is the first line of protection in a storm of customer questions. It enables eCommerce customer support departments to resolve the majority of customer questions by proactively providing immediate answers on their site. With a quick search, customers are able to get easy answers, and address their issues with informative articles, FAQ’s, and how-to videos. Knowledge management lets your online shoppers continue the buyer journey with confidence, while reducing the load on support agents to answer these basic questions. As an eCommerce customer support leader, this kind of measurable content also allows you to track its performance and flag up urgent issues in need of attention. Best of all, it’s eCommerce customer support that’s available at any hour of the day – a service that no other channel can match.

eCommerce customer support on all channels

With 75% of consumers trying new shopping behaviors and 36% trying new products, the flight from brick and mortar stores means that shoppers are open to buying from whoever makes it easiest for them. Recent findings by McKinsey show that this year’s disruption of consumer patterns has led to unprecedented levels of customer disloyalty – meaning that as shoppers try new channels they’re also open to trying new products based on availability, price, and convenience.

35% of US shoppers new to e-commerce plan to continue making grocery purchases online after COVID-19 restrictions are over. – BCG

Availability and price are the two factors in attracting new business, but retaining these online shoppers is about making the experience as convenient as possible. eCommerce customer support departments on a journey to reduce customer effort can set up their shoppers to return to their site because they create convenience. Embedding a chat widget on your online shop provides instant yet personal support right from your website. This makes it easy for customers to find the answers they need with a scaled-down version of your help center that can be placed literally anywhere. Choose which channels to add to each widget based on your needs – Email, live chat, callback or help center – so customers can contact you in their preferred channel without leaving your site.

Customer experience will win customer loyalty

Forbes research shows that 56% of customers chose where to shop during last year’s holiday season based on previous years' experiences. COVID is shaking up consumer behavior in 2020 and support departments that don't make the eCommerce holiday shopping experience as smooth as possible may have fewer return buyers in 2021. The steps that online businesses take now to build positive customer experiences will be remembered for years after the pandemic.

One common way to prepare for the holiday surge is to hire a new batch of temporary support agents for the fourth quarter. But sending out a fleet of half-trained reps to interact with your customers is likely to increase frustration and damage customer experience, resulting in churn. Onboarding new agents can be done quickly and effectively with an internal knowledge base. This ensures your new hires are aligned on eCommerce customer support policies and protocols, and up to speed from day one.

Imagine a new shopper comes to your online store, but can’t find what they’re looking for. They’ve done a quick search on the widget you installed, and a live chat pops up. The agent – her first day on the job – sees the request, along with the three articles most commonly associated with this type of query. With AI-powered results at her fingertips, she has easy access to accurate knowledge, which keeps her support consistent while reducing frustration for your new shopper.

Taking the next step with eCommerce customer support software

While spending patterns are changing, many of the longer-term directions in consumer behavior are still up in the air, giving companies an opportunity to help redefine the next normal. eCommerce customer support can seize the short-term opportunity to win valuable new business during this COVID-19 demand surge - but real brand stickiness will depend on shoppers’ satisfaction with their experience.

Wix Answers is providing the all needed capabilities for eCommerce customer support departments to navigate and succeed in this new environment.

To see how you can win new markets with customer-centric, agent-friendly eCommerce customer support software, unlock your free 14-day trial today.


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