Home delivery is shaping up to be the sticky widget in retailers' toolboxes this holiday season—and one that could affect customer loyalty for a long time to come—as half of all consumers won't give merchants a second chance following a disappointing online experience.
Shoppers are looking for convenience this holiday season, and if they don't find it on a merchant's site, expect them to go elsewhere: 33 percent of shoppers said they would head to a competitor that offers a more convenient or streamlined shopping experience. This is true not only during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also throughout the year, according to a recent survey by JD Software.
Several new features offered this season could create problems for retailers if not executed well. Particularly precarious is the buy online and pick up in-store option. One in four shoppers have already used this service and appreciated the convenience, and nearly half of all shoppers plan to try BOPIS this season, according to the National Retail Federation.
But roughly 40 percent of those shoppers experienced an employee-related BOPIS issue with damaging results. Whether a store associate couldn't locate an item or a system error was encountered, shoppers will be unlikely to try that retailer or its services again. Retailers struggling to match the back-end capabilities to front-end expectations could suffer negative consequences long past the holidays.
The potential for error and alienation is even greater when it comes to paying for the convenience that shoppers demand. Free shipping and returns are now expected. More than 50 percent of shoppers consider the ease of returning to be "very important" when deciding from which retailer to buy.
"The biggest challenge for retailers today is finding the balance between keeping customers content while maintaining profitability to meet their needs in an increasingly omnichannel world," said Wayne Usie, senior VP of retail at JDA. "It's no longer sustainable for businesses to sacrifice profit margins in an effort to deliver customer satisfaction and meet demands.
"Instead, businesses need to take on a more holistic view of their logistics and fulfillment strategy to make better informed decisions that will not only provide a consistent omnichannel experience to customers, but more importantly, turn a profit."
Late delivery is cited as the most common issue related to a poor experience in the last 12 months (45 percent). Among this group, 48 percent no longer trust the offending retailer during a peak time, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Fulfilling promised deliveries has been a challenge for retailers during the past two holiday seasons, and many are just testing the waters with BOPIS during a peak time.
-See this JDA Software 2015 Consumer Survey
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