The holiday season is upon us – and for many consumers, that means extra helpings of food, conviviality, and…shopping. Black Friday used to be the biggest retail day of the year, when consumers would line up outside storefronts in the middle of the night to be first in line for the newest TV set or Apple iPhone. But in today’s age of the always-on, always-connected consumer, online is taking over. We kicked off this year’s holiday shopping season with Singles’ Day, which began in China as an e-commerce offshoot of Valentine’s Day and this year drove almost $20 billion in goods purchased online in a single day. And the shopping bonanza that is Cyber Monday is less than a week away.
Retail sales for the holiday season have risen steadily since 2008, and that trend is only expected to continue this year: According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), sales are projected to reach $655.8 billion. Shoppers anticipate spending just as much online as they do in stores this year, which is a big milestone in holiday purchasing behavior. And according to Adobe Digital Insights’ 2016 Holiday Shopping Predictions, for the first time ever, mobile devices are expected to eclipse desktop in digital browsing. However, since desktop conversion rates are still nearly three times those of smartphones, this poses a challenge for retailers in converting mobile prospects into purchasing customers. How can they seal the deal when 76 percent of shoppers change their mind about which brand to purchase as a result of a Google mobile search?
Consumers have little patience for hard-to-navigate websites
Across the globe, consumers have very little patience for websites that require them to invest more than a modicum of time and energy. They are quick to move on from websites that frustrate them – 94% report turning to third-party search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing to help them find answers. And they’ll only give a company website an average of 70 seconds to find information before going elsewhere. As an added challenge for mobile shoppers, mobile websites are often inferior in quality to their corresponding desktop versions, opening up the potential for prospects to move to a competitor’s site and take their business with them.
In the ultimate determination of where to make their holiday purchases, website usability is a key factor for consumers. And the stakes are high: Sixty-three percent of global consumers will stop doing business with a company whose website is difficult to use.
Using a virtual assistant can increase sales
With the rise of digital channels, consumers expect service and access to information 24/7. The need to meet the expectations of today’s digitally savvy consumers is driving retailers to evolve their online experience. An innovative and cost-effective way to provide a continuous presence, responsive customer care, and a personalized interaction is to embrace self-service solutions such as virtual assistants. Deploying a virtual assistant enables enterprises to offer a faster, more effective online experience by answering questions, providing content, and guiding their customers through transactions. In the case of retailers, a virtual assistant can walk prospects through the mobile and desktop purchasing process, thereby minimizing customer frustration and creating an experience that will both increase holiday revenue and foster enduring customer relationships.
If you’re interested in increasing your sales potential this holiday season – and in delivering a customer experience that encourages sustained brand loyalty well beyond it – contact us to learn more about how to deploy a virtual assistant on your desktop or mobile website.