A recent survey report shows how online retailers can replace personalized in-store experiences with a great online shopping experience. With e-commerce now representing 14.5% of total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2018 with 15% yoy growth, all signs are pointing towards a future where sales are made online and malls are revamped into distribution centers and warehouses. While shopping online has its advantages, it also has disadvantages, like the loss of interacting with a sales person. To make up for these disadvantages, online retailers are strategizing on how to improve upon the online shopping experience, including customer service. This article will review the consumer survey, Customer Expectations and Experiences with Online Shopping, published by Bold360.

Digital Customer Service

One of the main advantages to online retail is the convenience of shopping when you want, where you want. This advantage should also extend to customer service as consumers prefer digital channels for interacting with support (as opposed to calling a customer support phone number). Consumers appreciate 24/7 response times and the ability to get support without human interaction. The survey reported that rarely do consumers receive exceptional customer support and that there is room for improvement. One such improvement could be the use of chat bots and other AI that offer proactive outreach and self-service tools (read more on Technology Trends & Implications for Retailers).

Preferred Engagement Channel

The majority of consumers surveyed – 85% – stated that they prefer a digital channel for engaging with customer service (the remainder 15% said they prefer using the phone). According to the chart, those who prefer digital communication overwhelmingly prefer Live Chat at 42%, with Email at a distant 23%.

Multiple Contacts a Month

Consumers do use these digital channels after making an online purchase. The survey reports that 58% of frequent online shoppers contact brands they recently purchased from up to six times per month.

Digital is Perceived as Faster

The reason why consumers prefer digital communication is speed: over half of all respondents believe they could resolve an issue faster through digital communication as compared to speaking to a live person over the phone. While consumers prefer Live Chat, if they thought another mode would be quicker, they would use it. That would include any self-service tools: more than 8 out of 10 respondents reported that if self-service were available, they’d prefer to use those tools instead of contacting an agent.

Dealing with Returns

A common reason why a consumer would want to contact customer service is to inquire about returns. Having a smooth, efficient, and no-hassle returns policy is crucial in today’s competitive online retail marketplace. With e-commerce currently experiencing a 30% return rate (read more on intentional returns and e-commerce) and shipping, warehousing, and processing costs all skyrocketing, retailers need more than just digital communications: they also need a modern liquidation process to sell off returned and overstocked items that can no longer be sold as new.

B-Stock provides retailers a private, online marketplace to auction off returned and overstock merchandise, on an ongoing basis, to a large network of business buyers from across the country. By selling via their own B2B liquidation marketplace to a larger buyer group, retailers can increase recovery rates and keep warehouses from hitting capacity.

Please take a moment to review our case studies and our suite of private marketplaces that we operate for nine of the top 10 U.S. retailers, including hundreds more in the U.S. and internationally across Europe.

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