Fans of the 80’s cult-classic movie "Gremlins" will remember that it takes place around the holidays, as the cute little mogwai “Gizmo” is given as a gift. However, the exotic mogwai comes with three important rules: Don’t expose the mogwai to light (or it will die), don’t get it wet, and definitely don’t feed it after midnight!
Naturally, the rules were broken, resulting in hordes of not-so-cute gremlins running rampant. While this made for a great movie, this kind of chaos isn't so entertaining when it happens to your business. It’s important for online retailers to be aware that their well-planned customer journeys face a wrath of gremlins out there in the wild this holiday shopping season.
Let’s take a closer look: Retailers have invested heavily this year to making the holiday shopping experience memorable for customers, and profitable for their businesses. Meticulous attention has been paid to customer flow throughout their sites, packaging the right deals and promotions, timing of offers, and ensuring a robust inventory of products customers want.
All this work on the backend can be rendered irrelevant if a customer journey is hijacked and the shopper ends up on a competitor's site because they had a poor experience or were lured away. These particular gremlins make for a scary holiday shopping experience for retailers, turning Black Friday into a day retailers see red — and even more red throughout the holiday season.
Here are four rules retailers should follow to avoid gremlins in the customer journey this holiday shopping season:
- Understand that the devil is in the details. As an e-commerce executive, you’re constantly looking for new technology and solutions to improve your business metrics. However, the devil (or gremlin) is in the details, and that doesn’t just go for new cutting-edge features. It includes a website’s must-haves as well. Customers today expect certain basic elements to be there from the beginning, such as fast page load times, search, user-friendly navigation, realistic product images, easy access to product reviews, sizing charts and more. Keep testing and monitoring these core elements. Small improvements in these areas can translate to a big lift in conversions and customers’ average order value. Make sure the customer journey is free of these flaws from every entry point to your site and covers their entire shopping experience.
- Be responsive and quick to fix. There are countless alternatives out there to your site’s offerings. If you don’t have a wide assortment of products offered, or established, deep brand loyalty already, it’s too easy for consumers to surf over to the next site. If a product is out of stock or unable to be delivered in a timely manner, act quickly to offer a suitable alternative product. Otherwise, the shopper may end up getting their desired product at a suitable alternative retail site.
- Infuse customer journey hijack prevention into your site. You’ve done all the work on your site to create a memorable and effective customer experience, but a vital part of the desired experience is the last mile of the journey — the customer’s device. Fifteen percent to 25 percent of customer web sessions are interrupted by unauthorized ads injected on their web browser, an issue the retailer has no control over. These invasive ads include pop-ups and banners, and in 70 percent of the cases, include related product recommendations that divert visitors away to competing sites. Many affected customers experiencing this problem aren't aware this off-brand experience was unintended. During this holiday season alone, online journey hijacking will cost online retailers $2.1 billion in revenue. Customer journey hijacking prevention solutions can protect the brand experience, and help retailers retain the lost revenue they would otherwise be unable to recoup (and likely don’t even know they’re losing).
- Remember, the customer journey doesn't end at checkout. The holiday season is an especially opportunistic time for online retailers to acquire new customers. However, your relationship with them is really just beginning after their first purchase on your site. Nurturing them along the fulfillment process is equally important in order to turn first-time buyers into loyal customers and ambassadors for your brand. Be it online or offline, make sure that any touchpoint with the customer is fully optimized before, during and after the purchase.
By following these important rules of the customer journey during the 2017 holiday shopping season, retailers can retain control of their customers’ experiences, provide them with a delightful holiday season, and avoid the gremlins that wreak havoc on the online journey they’ve invested so much time and resources creating.
Chemi Katz is co-founder and CEO of Namogoo, a company that helps online businesses protect the customer journey.
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