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AI is Redefining Experience in Customer Support Centres

AI is Redefining Experience in Customer Support Centres

Businesses need to understand the complexities of individual transactions and customer behavior over multiple touch points and channels, now more than ever. With AI in the fore, and technological integrations becoming increasingly popular and customer support centres or contact centres have the opportunity to stand as industry leaders and reimagine every aspect of their business.

Data mining now has the ability to look at every single customer and personalise the brand’s interaction with each of them. Harnessing the massive rise in unstructured data through AI will play a crucial role in helping reshape contact centres into customer experience centres, helping them provide insights into customer needs which would drive increased efficiency and drive profitability, greater customer satisfaction and create more valued and meaningful work.

A seamless, individual customer experience

Digital convenience is a huge motivator for consumers. Several companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon have set the bar for integrated customer experience that provides individual customer service across multiple channels. Consumers today expect to move seamlessly through the different channels seamlessly.

While the customer expectations are high, their brand/company loyalty is not as much - while customers will cross channels if they cannot complete a task on their first channel of choice, they only want to engage through the channels they want to use. This is one of the integral reasons why retail businesses must understand the intricacies of individual transactions, as well as the context of customer behavior over multiple channels.

Businesses that are cognisant of their customers’ issues, moulding their experiences and creating meaningful engagement creates value for customer and company. Leveraging AI, businesses can receive immediate feedback - systematically and quantitatively, from every interaction without creating any points of friction or customer effort at an individual customer level or aggregated to the level of your choice. It links all channels to create an individual yet seamless customer experience.

Multiple channels fuel customer contact

Customers are increasingly demanding choice and control and even expect brands and retailers to anticipate their needs without invading their privacy. While digital touch points are becoming the interaction channel of choice for customers, there is still a significant amount of customer support centres that do not use data analysis tools, despite analytics being voted the top factor to change the shape of the industry in the next five years.

Furthermore, customers have reported that the phone as a channel is the most frustrating contact option, an industry study found that its dominance has not declined as quickly as expected. In 2017, almost half of the customer support executives have utilised phone and digital channels. Moreover, it is predicted that more than 50% of organisations would manage a multichannel customer support centre in the immediate future.

Augmenting Intelligence 

While AI can help augment human behavior, there is still a very real bias for humans to want to talk to other humans. Customer support is still an important competitive point of difference for business, with success gauged on customer experience outcomes. A key challenge is maintaining integration levels across all channels while providing consistent service.

Today, customer support centres are experiencing an offloading of transactional activities into alternate channels. Calls are more complex and add more value for the customer as well as the business. 

This means AI will take the the existing analysis techniques of those calls to the next level. It will have the ability to map word and concept level relationships within conversations and then deduce business specific intelligence and insights. Speech analytics will be able to measure everything from the reason the person called to their mood at any stage of the call or contact.

AI can link key words and phrases and carry out semantic matching (which matches phrases on their similarity of meaning). This will enable customer support centres to improve the customer experience, monitor contact centre quality, reduce operational costs and gain critical business insights. Critically, it will do this seamlessly from the conversation, not through set questions or a survey. Today’s data, informs tomorrow’s decisions.

The road ahead

There is no denying that contact centres are entering a period of intense disruption. The rise of cloud-based infrastructure will see new forces enter the market and force existing operators to become more flexible.

For large established businesses, offering a frictionless multi-channel offering will not be something new but something expected by customers. So much so, customers won’t think about dealing with different channels within a company but simply with the company. Accurate, consistent and personalised interactions with customers will be essential.

AI software will be instrumental in helping contact centres reimagine their role from contact to resolution. It will free staff to work on meaningful, more complex and intuitive scenarios with customers as AI performs transactional and predictable tasks. The elevation of work in a contact centre has the potential to create a more stable workforce with improved corporate culture.

Ultimately, people still want to interact with other people. A contact centre is a fine example of that. Utilising AI will allow contact centres to focus less on mundane, transactional activities and more on its interactions with its customers. It will see far more opportunity for meaningful human interaction beneficial to customer and company.

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Speech Analytics vs Voice Analytics: What is the difference?

Speech Analytics vs Voice Analytics

Businesses today have access to more consumer data than ever before, especially through their customer support and service centers. The essence lies in understanding the optimal way of extraction and utilization of that data. Speech analytics and voice analytics are two approaches to call analytics that can be used for the same function. Even though they may both analyze phone conversations between customer support representatives and customers in order to reveal customer insights, their mechanisms are quite distinct. Discerning these differences is crucial to determine which solution of call analytics is ideal. Moreover, both the methods are used by customer support and service centers to gather information about the market performance of products. However, speech analytics and voice analytics are very different tools. The operating principles of analyzing used are very diverse.

Call Analytics

Call Analytics refers to the collection, measurement, analysis, and reporting of data collected over phone calls. Retailers and brands can use the insights gained from call analysis to optimize call handling and marketing campaigns. Call analytics also allow for viewing and analysis of both the macro and micro phone traffic patterns and sort the collected data into informative call reports. There are two different methods of call analysis, i.e speech analysis, and voice analysis.

Speech Analytics

Speech analytics analyzes the spoken content of a phone conversation by analyzing what is spoken between support representatives and the customers, and the context of the conversation. It does so by using phonetic indexing or converting speech to text for the organization of the content. Speech analytics makes it feasible to search and locate the speech of a representative or a customer and their response to each other. The context of the conversation is divulged by the method of isolating specific words and phrases in proximity to one another.For example, if a customer calls a business to ask about the shipment of an order and when it is expected to arrive, then the execution of a search for the words “order” and “shipment” of the customer with close proximity to a search of the customer care representative using the word “shipment,” crucial information such as the reason for the customer’s call as well as whether the customer received a satisfactory response may be determined.Important factors such as keywords and syllables based on a frame of reference searches set up by the business play a vital role in speech analytics. Unveiling the most common phrases and words used by customers during such a conversation enables speech analytics to give businesses better insights into the latest trends. This, in turn, prepares the business to be able to create informed marketing strategies and make decisions that provide the customers with the best experience possible.

Voice Analytics

In contrast to speech analytics, which focuses on the words and phrases used in an interaction between the representatives and the customers, voice analytics targets the intonation of how it was spoken. Voice analytics work by analyzing the audio patterns for vocal elements such as the tone, pitch, tempo, rhythm, and syllable stress,  to gauge emotional quotient. This provides businesses with a deeper knowledge of the mood of a customer.For example, if a customer uses the word “amazing”, voice analytics can be used for the detection of cues, such as anger or sarcasm, which utterly changes the meaning of the word. It is crucial to understand the demeanor of a customer in order to be able to provide them with a satisfactory experience.

After the assimilation of raw vocal data, it is run against an emotional voice database, comparing factors generated by the voice analytics system with known factors associated with emotions such as anger, happiness, fear, and sadness, to correctly identify and classify the emotional state of the customer. In essence, voice analytics captures the emotional aspect of speech in a conversation.

Speech analytics is essential in cases where specific keywords and phrases show a strong indication of potential sales opportunities as well as situations such as cancellation of orders. Speech analytics determines the needs of a customer by the use of keyword detection whereas voice analytics, saves time and labor by guessing the meaning of words and phrases used in a conversation.

Furthermore, by analyzing a customer’s response and emotional state, voice analytics can help predict future behaviors. This is used in second call targeting by focusing on customers likely to make similar purchases. Thus, differentiating between what has been said with respect to how it was said can provide with different kinds of information, that may be used to improve the quality of operations in various ways.


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Conversational AI – The next Step in E-commerce Evolution

Conversational AI - The next Step in E-commerce Evolution

There is no doubt that AI is a popular buzzword in the retail landscape and retailers are slowly recognizing its potential and are increasingly adopting at least one form of AI into their customer journeys or internal processes. By 2019, 40 percent of retailers will have developed a customer experience architecture supported by an AI. Retailers that choose not to incorporate an AI-backed solution into their business strategies will face consequences that can severely affect their bottom line.

Conversational AI can fundamentally transform the way consumers communicate and transact with brands. While this is true across all industries, retailers, in particular, can reap multiple benefits, depending upon their adoption of new technologies. To help retailers understand the importance of implementing Conversational commerce into their retail strategy, here are some aspects where it makes a real difference:

Meeting the customer where they are

Messaging is one of the popular means to interact with one another and that’s how they prefer to interact with brands, too. Conversational AI allows retailers to tap into the most immediate form of communication i.e. messaging and reach consumers in a very convenient manner at a higher scale which was not possible before.

Moreover, with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and now ubiquitous technology in the home and office, as well as with the growing familiarity towards similar technologies, people are shopping with voice-based assistants in greater numbers.

Increased Customer Interaction with Conversational AI

Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and both web and apps which were once quite the rage among retailers are now tools that are causing friction between the customer and retailer. Conversational AI has the ability to add a new layer of interactivity to online shopping.

It further enables a richer, more complex customer engagement, featuring personalized shopping assistants and concierge bots answering questions, recommending items, and handling individual transactions. This helps to personalize the digital experience at each touch point of the customer journey.

Conversational Design is the New Personalized Web Design

Like the human language, conversational commerce is flat. This allows brands to engage in real relationship-based commerce not usually achievable through websites and apps. While it has the ability to handle a broad set of commands, without AI, it lacks the capacity to understand complex inquiries.

 The integration of AI breaks down these barriers and retailers can turn towards messaging solutions such as chatbots and program them to echo the brand voice as well as provide a more personalized and positive experience unique to each customer.


Conversational AI has the ability to change the way all brands conduct business. It connects them with their customers more organically and creates personalized experiences tailor-made for every individual. This will serve as the first universal interface, increasing the efficiency among retailers and brands as well as maximizing profits.

 

Related e-commerce articles:

Transforming the Retail Customer Experience with In-store Analytics
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Conversational AI: Getting Started

Conversational AI: Getting Started

With the increasing list of benefits and a growing demand for voice interfaces, the retail space is abuzz with Conversational AI as a key component for any digital transformation strategy. From improving customer service and boosting online sales, to new ways of differentiation using voice interfaces, Conversational AI is becoming increasingly popular among businesses. As the demand for this technology builds, the question shifts towards how to get started. The technology available is vast, yet only a few platforms meet the stringent demands of enterprises.

By 2019, a large number of retailers with online stores will have voice search, as well as voice navigation, enabled onto their sites. Today, speed and convenience are the two most important aspects retailers keep in mind while creating a customer journey. Here, the Conversational AI interface delivers the most important aspect over any channel, personalized content, and human-like conversation - a friction-less experience.

Delivering a frictionless experience

Conversational AI has the ability to understand the consumer's wants over a simple voice recognition software. For instance, a customer can pointedly ask for an item such as - "I am looking for a red ball gown like the one that Halle Berry wore for the 2014 Oscars" and yield the results rather than just entering a search query for "a red ball gown". This allows the consumer to have a natural conversation like that with a human rather than a machine.

This, in a nutshell, is the difference between conversational AI and the voice recognition that most vendors offer. Conversational AI has the ability to understand the user, deliver personalized content using information received from the conversation, preferences, to deliver the response the user expects. If the virtual assistant has the ability to diagnose a problem, it should be intelligent enough to arrange the solution for the same.

Increasing Customer Engagement

Chatbots are the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning Conversational AI, but it is only the beginning of the journey - most retailers are moving further away from this step and using conversational AI to reach more consumers across multiple touchpoints.

This helps them improve customer engagement right from the initial interaction through the entire journey, providing a connection in the final product. This plays a crucial role when building customer loyalty in the already competitive landscape. Retailers that implement a digital assistant which can actually interact with the user through the entire customer journey right from the initial touchpoint to after sales care, enabling them to move closer towards delivering a frictionless experience to their customers.

Looking ahead

As the demand and expectations of the consumers grow, the impact of conversational AI will affect the retailer. Conversational AI is the next technology, from enhancing customer shopping journey and driving online sales, it is definitely a technology to watch out for.

Related e-commerce articles:

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Voice-enabled chatbots vs Messenger bots: What you need to know

 Voice enabled chatbots vs Messenger bots: What you need to know

There are two distinct ways in which a conversational interface works: text conversations and voice. Consumers interact with chatbots using both interfaces on a daily basis, with each having it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages. The big difference between a messenger chatbot and a voice chatbot or a voice assistant is the way people interact with them. 

The major differences

A text based messenger exists in one or more messaging platforms, including features of SMS and web chat messengers. This enables users to interact on a device screen via text or button presses. However, in the case of voice bots, users interact with the bot using their voice in natural language. The voice bot then responds leveraging pre-recorded messages, text-to-speech responses or a mixture of both. 

A voice enabled chatbot can be called upon in many devices such as mobile phones, computers, smart speakers (such Google Home or Alexa), wearables (Apple AirPods) or other IOT devices. These chatbots enable users to accomplish tasks efficiently hands-free. The advantage of using a voice chatbot is its ability to exist on multiple messaging platforms, that can be synchronised across different devices. Some messenger bots are also available via smart speakers - which function like platforms themselves - enabling them to perform dual actions as a voice chatbot as well as text-based bots. This can be seen with Fitness Tips via Google Home.

Key Similarities

Given their differences, the choice of interface depends largely on the purpose and context for a chatbot’s use. While both these platforms enable users to accomplish tasks or find the information they need via natural language, text-based bots can double as a voice enabled chatbot where a user can dictate using their phone’s text-to-speech feature or the bot may be available as a skill integrated into a voice chatbot. While both types of bots depend on NLP to make sense of user input and provide a response, each type has its own set of challenges unique to the interface.  Some of them include text messenger bots understanding shorthand and typos - common to mobile users and voice chatbots understanding different accents across the world. 

One major differentiator between a chatbot and a virtual assistant is its accessibility. A messenger chatbot could be a better choice for consumers who prefer to chat via their mobile phones to get information about different products. Unless voice chatbots exist on a consumer’s phone or computer, interacting with it requires getting a new smart speaker device. However, it is the perfect choice for consumers who prefer to multitask and do not want to use their hands while accomplish a task. For example: It works well for consumers who are looking for the different ingredients for a recipe and can add the items onto the shopping list via voice while doing other tasks. 

Conclusion

Text messaging is especially popular as a mode of communication among Millennials, making messenger chatbots a more natural fit for communication with consumers. The ubiquitous nature of mobile devices further help lower the barrier of entry to the consumers while using a messenger bot. While text messenger bots are popular, voice enabled chatbots are not far behind, gaining popularity in the past year.

Ultimately, the choice of the interface lies with the retailer and the products it offers. Another aspect retailers may consider is the point of contact for the bot and the consumer. Retailers must understand their target audience and tailor make an assistant that can best help them execute the tasks they need to do. 

 

In the next article, we will explore more about how retailers can choose between Voice enabled chatbots and Messenger bots to enhance their customer experience.

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shopper with sunglasses and shopping bags

AI Is The Best Present For Retailers This Holiday Shopping Season

AI Is The Best Present For Retailers This Holiday Shopping Season

Brands are undergoing massive digital transformations of their own in order to keep pace with the growing demands and expectations. The customer of today is constantly connected to whichever device is closest at hand, and are using mobile devices as a means to solve real-world problems. Some of the queries naturally pivot towards local results such as - ‘where to get party costumes’, or ‘best Korean restaurants near me’.

For retailers, however, consumers are willing to wait for delivery if the price or quality of a particular product is better online. E-commerce provides the convenience of home delivery, free shipping options, and the ease of using voice-activated speaking assistants to accomplish shopping tasks due to which consumers are increasingly moving towards shopping online. Early AI adopters are already reaping the benefits such as gaining better understanding and visibility into their customers and increased productivity.

With the holiday shopping season beginning this week, here are some AI-powered applications retailers can leverage to create memorable customer shopping experiences.

Implementing AI-powered Chatbots to pave the way for meaningful shopping experiences

Initially, chatbots were programmed to execute a specific of queries and responses, but with enhancements in technology and AI, these bots are enabled to “learn” the site’s content and consumer preferences. This further helps them to bring back relevant answers and supplying potential customers with the right information.

This service element can be taken a step further with AI-powered shopping assistants. This was seen with Macy’s On Call - an AI shopping assistant leveraging Natural Language Processing designed to aid consumers with information in 10 of Macy’s retail stores around the country, as they navigated through each one. This is a viable direction for retailers to look into in the future. 

Optimizing the site content for voice search queries

As voice search grows, retailers are tailoring content enabling them to better answer queries and also demonstrate to search engines that their answers are the best choice to showcase as results. Voice searches are more likely to be from mobile consumers who are only looking for simple answers and don’t want to engage in lengthy interactions.

Retailers must create a strategy that maps the content through the customer journey with intent, context, and formatting for voice search. Furthermore, retailers must keep in mind to take a personalized approach, using a more personalized tone, mirroring back specific questions and limiting the answers to a sentence or two in order to better optimize for voice searches.


Combating abandoned carts with AI-powered shopping experiences

Shopping cart abandonment is an industry-wide problem. It is estimated that a whopper of 70%
online shopping carts are abandoned before customers complete their purchases.

A great application in this space can be seen with North Face which personalizes the customer experience by creating a psychoanalytic profile of customer data in near real-time. North Face’s AI assistant asks questions to understand how customers plan to use their apparel and then provides ranked product suggestions which save both effort and time for customers from browsing different websites to get the right product for their requirement.

AI can help make informed recommendations that reduce the uncertainty consumers feel while shopping for a specific product, thereby increasing their confidence and the likelihood of them proceeding through checkout. 

Stepping forward with AI in the future

With AI slowly becoming the new norm in the world of e-commerce and retail, several numbers of brands and retailers are increasingly adopting technological tools into their business processes and strategies. The concern of consumers over the safety and security of shopping online - which was a major concern for brands and retailers up until a few years ago, have given way to demands for more seamless, intuitive and personalized shopping experiences.

Retailers that have not adopted AI into their businesses, and are trying to understand ways to tap into the opportunities provided by AI, the holiday season is the best time to demonstrate these applications to help gather data to pave the way for the future.

Related e-commerce articles:

AI is Redefining Experience in Customer Support Centres
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Kicking off Black Friday and Holiday Shopping with Artificial Intelligence

Kicking off Black Friday and Holiday Shopping with Artificial Intelligence

US retailers are making final preparations for Black Friday in both their physical and digital stores to support the expectation of high volume shoppers. 2018 holiday sales are estimated to climb between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 to between $717.45 and $720.89 billion – all due to the rising health of the economy, low employment records, and increasing wage margins.

While the economy has been improving over the past year, technology has also been making progress – both online and offline. This is especially seen with making more personalized recommendations through the use of AI and machine learning.

AI-Driven Personalization takes priority

With retailers increasingly leaning towards AI and utilizing AI-driven platforms, they are choosing more sophisticated platforms to make more personalized recommendations for their customers, ultimately increasing revenues for retailers and brands.
Some studies even concluded that brands that invest in creating personalized experiences leveraging advanced digital technologies and proprietary data for customers see a bump in their revenue by 6% to 10% – two times faster than those brands that don’t.

For the holiday season, and the upcoming Black Friday shopping, AI can be a wonderful tool used to automate the process of helping online and offline shoppers find what they want to shop for. Shoppers often have trouble finding a memorable gift for friends and family, but do not have a clear starting point – this may need browsing extensively through different e-commerce websites and searching through several aisles in different stores to find the right gift.

AI simplifies this process by giving retailers and brands the ability to ask their customers questions about their gift recipients and offering personalized recommendations based on individual tastes and preferences.
The use of AI-driven personalization for e-commerce channels has increased over the past few years, but according to experts, the future of AI is limitless – especially in the physical store. Furthermore, the future physical retail is believed to be a mix of the speed and convenience offered by AI with a human touch.

Customers want to be engaged through human interaction rather than special effects using light and sound, so retailers can do well to create community events and use data to offer personalized in-store experiences.

In-store Personalization to Support Retail Employees

As more and more technology is being integrated into the store environment, retailers need to move towards an autonomous management reducing the dependency on manual management by store staff. Recent studies even predicted retailers providing in-store recommendations to shoppers through AI engines to be the most mainstream in-store technology in the coming years.

Though AI is often pegged as a technology of the future, it’s a concept that is slowly taking shape and is not too far into the future. AI capabilities enable retailers to pursue customer personalization in real time – which will soon become a top priority becoming important for shoppers. The capability to display prices and promotions, which are subject to change, also coincides with the concept of a more personalized consumer-friendly store.

Conclusion

As we approach Black Friday – the official kick-off for the holiday shopping season, it will be interesting to see in which ways retailers and brands will leverage AI into their shopping strategies this holiday season. While personalized offers and promotions to enhance shopper loyalty will definitely be in the mix in the months of November and December, retailers can also take advantage of the data they receive to encourage repeat business throughout 2019.

Related e-commerce articles:

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Endless Aisles: An extension of the retail in-store shelf

Endless Aisles: An extension of the retail in-store shelf

Given that the retail space is extremely competitive, most retailers are racing first to offer their customers as much product selection as possible. For e-commerce, it’s easier to offer a variety of products, but with brick-and-mortar, it’s far more difficult to stock so many products as compared to its e-commerce counterpart. With a finite amount of shelf space, stores can only stock a limited number of products.

Here is when endless aisles can come into play: Endless aisles help merge the online offerings and the in-store location offerings to bring the best shopping experience for the shopper.

What are endless aisles?

iQmetrix defines it as, “the concept of using in-store kiosks to allow customers to order products that are out of stock or not sold in-store and have them shipped to their homes.”

Alternatively, retailers can choose to ship products that are out of stock directly to the customer’s doorstep. This can be done by partnering with third-party suppliers to fulfill the customer’s order. This leads to a continuous customer experience while not having to deal with suppliers, and also giving the retailers access to endless inventory without the need to warehouse it, benefitting the retailers.

The Endless aisles service acts as a bridge, carrying the products available online into the actual store. This is fundamentally another version of the in-store pick-up (click and collect) option. Leveraging digital portals, retailers can offer these services.

The Benefits of Endless Aisles

Retailers that have their businesses that are both online and in-store, offering endless aisles is a great way to capitalize on the complete product selection without the need to have inventory for each product across different store locations. The extra stock can be stored in warehouses or with third-party supplies that would directly ship to the customers’ doorsteps.

Another benefit is that by offering customers a variety of selection at the brick-and-mortar locations, retailers are decreasing the likelihood of customers going to a competitor store to make a purchase.

Furthermore, Endless aisles help to capitalize on the buyer intent that brought them to the store in the first place, without losing sales due to out of stock items. These customers can subsequently be enticed to move towards shopping online as well.

Retailers can do so by educating the customers about the online offerings, even providing a smooth and memorable user experience right from order to delivery. This way, these customers are more likely to become online shoppers in the future.

Endless aisles also enable retailers to partner with third-party suppliers, in turn, increasing the quantity and variety of products that they can offer, which can impress the customers.

Some of the challenges 

There are a few challenges retailers must keep in mind while implementing endless aisles for their businesses -

Inventory management is imperative when it comes to endless aisles, as there should be a perfect sync between the orders displayed online and the inventory.

Keeping track of multiple orders happening across different sales channels requires a centralized system of orders. Orders placed on the various sales channels cannot be managed on the respective platforms as it is inefficient.

Moreover, tracking order status and inventory levels across the various channels also pose a problem when fulfilling in-store orders with drop shippers or via online channels. Hence having a centralized system is important. There are some tools available in the market to enable the centralization such as Zapier to add new orders from the several sales channels and Order desk to streamline all the workflow.

Conclusion

With online retail undergoing a massive revolution, many customers still opt to shop from brick and mortar stores. Endless Aisles represents a literal blend of virtual technology into the physical store to deliver an enhanced and seamless customer experience for the newer generation demographics. Implementing the endless aisle strategy enables retailers in reducing the physical inventory and floor space while, in tandem, enhancing the product assortment and customer experience.

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How is Delivery driving the Retail Customer Experience

The role of Delivery in driving the Retail Customer Experience

Delivery services are an integral element in the e-commerce industry. From Amazon to Walmart to Kroger to the mid-size and smaller retailers, are enhancing their purchase delivery options.

Some of the enhancements today include two-day, same day, two-hour, and kiosk pickup in and outside the store, and these are slowly becoming the norm. Amazon even offers a package drop service inside the home or even inside car trunks!

Some other announcements included two-day free delivery for its Whole Foods grocery customers in 3 different cities across the USA. Earlier this year, Target debuted Target Restock – announcing next-day delivery service where customers could order living essentials as late as 7 pm for the next-day delivery. This was done with the aim of reducing shopping inconvenience and making life easier for customers.

What is driving the delivery evolution

These enhancements are being driven by the quest to provide the best customer experience and meet the consumer expectation. Delivery is no longer just “e-commerce to home”, it is now a complex piece of the omnichannel ecosystem. There are new technologies and platforms to enable shipments from stores, lowering costs for retailers and greatly expediting delivery for customers.

Many retailers are even strategically partnering with distributors for overnight drop shipments. Leveraging this, they can carry less inventory and still be able to offer the customers with more choice. Enhanced delivery channels drive a satisfied customer experience and boost sales.

A customer experience differentiator

Waiting for a week for the purchases is becoming a thing of the past and customers are increasingly opting for faster delivery options over higher discounts.

Given all the delivery developments happening across the retail sector, it’s clear that the delivery is as critical as pricing and a viable strategy making the retail experience a simple and seamless process. With instant gratification becoming the norm, consumers are increasingly expecting the same out of material goods and services at any time of day as well.

While “free” has always been an important factor, the new customer expectation is shifting towards custom tailor delivery and the ability to change the delivery location. Customers also are increasingly expecting detailed tracking and also expect to tailor the delivery location and hours once the package leaves the distribution center.

Looking ahead

Delivery is an important factor in the space of consumer experience and is expected to only become a greater force in the retail customer experience.

With the newer delivery options coming in, delivery and pick up package options outside normal store hours will become the front-runners. This gives the choice to the customer to pick up or drop off packages at a time that is comfortable and convenient to them, instead of them having to rush to make it to the location before it closes.

There are positive predictions towards significant growth in delivery strategies in the near future as consumers, and retailers, strive to provide the ultimate streamlined pick-up experience.

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Boosting Online Sales for the Holiday Season

Boosting Online Sales for the Holiday Season

With the holidays being around the corner, the countdown has already begun on the numerous sales across all retailers and brands. A growing number of shoppers are avoiding stores and are increasingly embracing e-commerce to shop for gifts due to which prospects for online sales are looking up.

Here are five strategies that companies can focus on to break through the holiday shopping noise and score bigger online sales this season:

Using relevant imagery and information 

Displaying holiday-themed, creative and shoppable images, with product images from different angles as well as using video to showcase products creates more impact as it delivers a more immersive experience, in turn, increasing engagement. Personalized recommendations of products also stimulate interest and likelihood for a purchase.

Key purchasing elements about the products also need to be clear and precise, including the pricing and shipping options, which plays an important role at this time of the year.

Selling uncomplicated and useful products 

Shoppers must not be given too much choice and time to make a purchasing decision. Companies must choose products in such a manner in which it would tap into the shoppers' desires for products and that has the potential to enrich their lives. The best impulse purchases are the ones that shoppers don't regret - and the ones that are exciting, easy, and fairly universal.

Companies need to ensure that the products that are being offered answers a need for shoppers. It can be a gift for large groups such as all boys under 12, or a makeup palette that can compliment every skin tone, etc.  

Keeping the purchasing process simple 

The purchasing process refers to the technology (one-click purchase), fulfillment (free shipping), convenience (returns policy), and the driving factor - product content. During this season, impulse purchases happen more often, and in order to encourage shoppers to make a purchase, the product copy should be presented in a manner such that the shopper does not have any questions about the product, with the product copy being clear and concise, ratings and reviews being well presented with all the information up front.

Increasing visibility by diversifying platforms

In the digital sphere, one can not be sure where a shopper can come from, hence repetition is required. Showing products across various platforms and devices also help create brand recall for the shoppers and increasing the possibility of shoppers purchasing products. Retailers and brands can also depend on banner ads as they utilize “since you viewed” algorithms to feature adjacent products.

Informing shoppers on how much they will save

Shoppers would lean towards offers that allow them to save time or money - especially where gifting is concerned. Most shoppers choose to take advantage of a value deal while making purchases, especially during an impulse purchase. For digital, product copy should mention seasonal pricing or special gifts with the purchase, or free shipping. The information must be presented to the shopper clearly, but also with the mention of value to seal the deal.

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