Frenzy or not, online is set to be a winner this Christmas

The recent focus for online shopping has been on Click Frenzy and Australians taking up great savings online.

There have been many arguments surrounding its success, but as we are on the countdown to Christmas, research indicates that Australian online retailers will see an increase in the volume of purchases this festive season.

What the research shows

Appliances Online’s annual Online Christmas Shopping study into Australians’ shopping behaviour around the festive season has revealed that nearly one-in-five (23%) of Australians surveyed say they will do most – if not all – of their shopping at online retail outlets. This is up from 20% last year.

Almost three quarters (72%) of Australians will conduct some of their Christmas shopping online in 2012, the same proportion as last year. Only 16% of Australians surveyed indicated that none of their shopping would take place online and a further 13% weren’t sure how they would shop for presents this Christmas.

The research demonstrates that even though the same proportion of Australians will do their Christmas online this year, online retail outlets can expect more consumers to do the majority of their Christmas shopping online than in 2011.

This is great news for retailers, as it suggests that Australians are open to purchasing more products online and across different categories – they have experimented and are coming back for more. But now, the onus is on retailers to retain and engage customers.

The focus for online retailers

For this festive season, and looking ahead for 2013, online retailers should focus on how to further encourage the 72% of Australians to consistently purchase online across a number of categories. They also need to focus on the 29% who aren’t currently shopping online.

Engaging and reaching out to baby boomers, whilst maintaining the interests of Generation X and Y would be a smart move by retailers this Christmas. Despite an increase in Generation X and Y shoppers doing the majority of their Christmas shopping this year, Baby Boomers are not shopping online as much as they did last year.

Perhaps this is due to a negative online shopping experience – it only takes one bad experience to make a customer question why they go online. Of course, mistakes happen – it’s only natural.

However, the way you solve problems for customers will be the deciding factor on whether they will shop from you again. I have a dedicated customer experience team that handles orders that have incurred problems – it is their job to ensure issues are resolved in a timely manner and that they have constant communication with the customer.

Online confidence

Confidence in shopping online has increased a percentage point to 84% this year, supporting the positive outlook for online retailer this festive season. Despite the popularity of online shopping, our research suggests 16% of Australians remain a bit nervous, or are not confident about shopping online.

Therefore, the Christmas season represents an opportunity for online retailers to impress consumers and to break down the anxiety felt by Australian shoppers, for example by ensuring delivery times and being available for customer queries.

Instilling confidence

To instil confidence in Australian consumers, online retailers must ensure that the purchasing experience they are offering is:

  • Convenient
  • Cost-effective
  • On-time
  • Hassle-free

End-to-end customer service is a defining factor in securing a customer’s trust. At Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, our aim is to impress every customer. Even though we are an online retailer, our model is one that builds old-fashioned customer service into every aspect of the shopping experience.

The biggest mistake an online retailer can make is underestimating the importance of a personalised approach. It’s not just about picking and clicking. Being online doesn’t mean we don’t have to deal with our customers. In fact, we want to create loyal relationships that last into the next generation.

We have recently introduced 24/7 Australian based customer service, which means that Australian shoppers are able to call our team to get product advice and place their order 365 days of the year. We also have a chat option on our website and a dedicated email chat team to answers customers queries in real time.

Retaining customer loyalty online will be the biggest trend in the next 12 months, and it’s important for consumers to have the best online experience possible, starting this Christmas.

John Winning is CEO of Winning Group: Appliances Online, BigBrownBox.com.au, Winning Appliances, and Handy Crew.

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