What was the lasting customer experience impression of a very consumer December?

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You may recall I wrote about the ‘Naughty and Nice’ consumer lists which come out around the most seasonal shopping time of the year in December. Well, once again, you shopped and the myriad tactics retailers used to get us to part with our cash for goods for family, friends or an indulgent treat for ourselves can now be reflected in the preliminary results that are reported in the New Year around the world.

A Prime example of upsell or subscription bundling with hardware?

One of the biggest success headlines of the consumer sector emanating from a frenzied December came from Amazon as they added 10M Prime subscribers during holiday. Now there are a few possible avenues to explore for this stellar upsell that require the compelling Prime value proposition to be teased apart. In a Venn diagram of Prime subscribers, who opted into the premium service for the content it delivers through Prime Instant and who put their hand in their proverbial pocket to gain access to enhance next day delivery options. I would wager it is the later rather than the former that persuaded more people to take up the add-on. Furthermore, there is a third possible factor behind the meteoric rise of subscribers. For those that bought or received Amazon hardware for Christmas in the form of tablets or television dongles, those items come with 30 days of Amazon Prime for free and so it remains to be seen come the end of January how many of the 10 million drop off as their trial ends or how many convert. These hardware converters are more likely to be swayed by the content offering after 30 days as their hardware delivers the content opportunity.

No more Black Friday, retailers say.

The Black Friday/Cyber Monday retail storm was at its most intense in 2014; fueled by media hype, global spread of the US phenomenon and the inter-brand battle of brands spreading their feathers to make their discounts look the prettiest but it is now apparent that it merely serves to shorten the retail sales cycle into a period of three days and furthermore hamstrings a retailers ability to offer even a standard level of delivery service on those goods ordered.

When the calls for Black Friday to just not be a thing in 2015 are coming from the leading retailers themselves, maybe it has had its party but now needs to go home. That’s not to say some brands did not have their successes with sales on the up for House of Fraser, Asos, J.C. Penney, Gap and Poundstretcher but the practice of the superficial adrenaline shot in the arm of retailers looking to get over the Q4 line needs attention.

Curiously, in Australia, it would appear that the Black-Cyber-named-day-of-the-week phenomenon has not quiet reached the peak madness that it has in the US and UK. According to Australian retail publication, Inside Retail, “Christmas came late to many retailers in 2014, with customers leaving it until immediately before or after the big day to hit the shops.”

Furnishing and retail in Australia had a good December whereas consumer goods did not. And as predictable as it may be that retail spending was down 15 per cent in the immediate week following Christmas, this was not quite as down as the 19 per cent drop-off the year previously in Australia.

eCommerce is gaining significant traction in the Asia-Pacific region as retail rules around imports and exports are relaxed and online retailers see the opportunity in operating beyond the one border to satisfy the consumer appetite for competitive offerings, online transactions and open global markets changing the competitive consumer landscape.

After-purchase woes impact the wider customer experience long-term

The retail customer experience loop is disconnected and frankly a mess in some instances. Heavy discounts, the shifting of stock and getting caught up in the frenzy of competitor battles has seen a diminishing return for consumers when it comes to the customer experience. Predominantly in the area of product delivery and the dispatch of goods. Whether brands forgot this part of the customer journey post-purchase or the more likely disconnect of 3rd party couriers values are not aligned with the high standards that retail brands have set for their in store and online customer experience, purchases going missing, stocks not being there and couriers going out of business or having to extend deliveries into the Sundays and late nights of December ahead of Christmas Day.  It was all a stress that could have been avoided had the strategy been a considered approach.

Was Black Friday worth it for retailers in the long-term?  What was the lasting customer experience impression you left in the minds of consumers?

Image: Christopher Bowley

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