With the shopping season in full swing in the western world –the online retailing is expected to grow several times faster. Amazon to a lesser degree and walmart.com to a larger degree had major outage issues last Friday. One or two other online retail sites also reported some problems. ComScore Networks, an internet information provider, says online retailers expect the biggest sales ever on “Cyber Monday”, the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, when millions of Americans take advantage of high-speed internet in their offices to hunt for presents. During the first 19 days of November, total retail spending online reached $6.35 billion, a 23% increase compared with the corresponding period in 2005. ComScore predicts that online retail consumer-spending for the two months to Christmas will exceed $24 billion, up by almost a quarter compared with last year.
Blast Radius, a UK based firm has come with a detailed comparative experience study of online retailing emphasising the total customer experience including the parts of fulfillment chain covering door deliveries. The report finds that Amazon.com tops both the US and UK markets. The interesting study shows that retailers dominate the US list while the UK list has place for people like Dell, Apple and HP. Notice that Dell, Apple , in rankings are ahead of HP & Marks & Spencer.
The report's key findings indicate that overall online shopping experiences have improved over a period of time. So many retailers are now adopting industry–wide best practices for design and usability that they are now challenged to truly differentiate them based on customer experience. Some key trends that offer opportunities to create differentiation are: creating a seamless experience across all channels and stages of the shopping experience, enabling and encouraging customer participation to offer new value to shoppers and innovating based on unmet customer needs. Many cross–channel retailers recognize and are striving to provide consistent customer experiences; however the report finds that this is one area that poses many complex logistical issues, particularly for those that use rich media catalogs as marketing tools. Many of the major multi–channel retailers post rich media catalogs online, but do not allow customers to click through and purchase items online.
• The Scene in UK is different : Lee Feldman, Blast Radius' Chief Creative Officer finds that investment by online retailers tends to focus on what they care about most, securing the sale. This attention is at odds with what the customers focus on, what happens after they have made a purchase. This 'service disconnect' is critical and reveals a short sighted view of the customer based on immediate revenue collection where real value is gained from long–term relationships. The study also spots notable deficiencies in online service:
• Return/Refund policies not stated up front
• Lack of flexibility to schedule deliveries at convenient times and slow deliveries/product availability (after the order is placed) – Deferred deliveries/Event based delivery not provided for
• Unbranded packaging vs. branded packaging, branded collaterals, good branded email follow ups (Amazon, Dell and Apple's packing was clearly branded whilst ASOS included a full colour catalogue with the delivery; Maplin and QVC provided additional information in the box and followed–up orders with subsequent mailers. These e–tailers also routinely used strongly branded, if third party, logistics operations. In sharp contrast there were those where brand presence was negligible through a 'white van, brown box' approach).
Read the good reports here.
Category :Emerging Trends