Calling all retailers – you need to respond to this shift in shopper behaviour
The retail sector appears to be at a real inflection point now. Despite the surge in online shopping experienced in 2020, growth across the sector has taken a bit of a nosedive in recent months. Retailers are now navigating a new normal in shoppers’ purchase habits and are grappling with what the future of shopping will look like in a post-pandemic world.
At the start of the year, the level of online retail sales fell to its lowest level since the explosion of eCommerce in March 2020 and, in January 2022, the online share of retail sales fell to 25.3%.
This drop in eCommerce sales could indicate a rise in high-street shopping as consumers once again enjoy their freedoms. Though it’s still uncertain if there will be a major return to in-person shopping or if online purchasing will pick up again. But one thing’s for certain; the customer journey continues to be a complex and constantly evolving process. It’s more important than ever for retailers to understand how (and where) consumers are choosing to make their purchases.
The place where online and in-person shopping meets
Data gathered by call intelligence experts, Infinity, shows that a significant part of a customer’s purchase journey takes place neither online or in-person. Infinity’s call data points to the fact that consumers are increasingly choosing to make a phone call to retailers as part of their buying journey.
One week into January 2022, Infinity’s data revealed that call volumes to the retail sector lifted to 33% month-on-month. This number continued to rise throughout the month – resulting in a massive uplift of 124%.
While a month-on-month boost in call volumes is a common occurrence at the start of a year, a 124% boost is particularly noteworthy.
It may be too soon to predict the post-pandemic shopping behaviour, but Infinity’s data shows that an increasing number of shoppers are choosing to pick up the phone to connect with retailers and check out. And this trend is not something that any retailer can afford to overlook.
Making the call – understanding the customer journey
Call volumes in the retail sector have seen a very strong start to the year. Infinity’s data shows incredibly strong month-on-month growth and a healthy 7% improvement compared to 2021.
Why harnessing human connection matters
The rise in phone calls illustrates that a call gives people something that online shopping lacks. Customers want support before they make a purchase decision from a real person on the other end of the phone.
When consumers connect with a person over the phone, they’re instantly given the ability to ask specific questions about the products they’re considering. These phone calls also give call centres the opportunity to provide reassurances on those queries, upsell, cross-sell, answer the questions that may not have been obvious online and ultimately provide a level of personalised service that will clinch the deal and foster customer loyalty.
Since reports of the inflation to UK shop prices almost doubling in January 2022, (the highest price rise in more than 30 years), consumers are becoming more sensitive, more savvy and shrewder than ever before. As the cost-of-living crisis will see more purse strings begin to tighten, retailers must pull out all the stops to ensure that at every touchpoint, the customer’s needs are not only met, but exceeded.
Capturing conversational moments that matter
While many retailers are tracking their digital channels well, realising that phone calls need the same amount of attention is vital. This is because, at the moment a customer picks up the phone, the chances of them being close to making a purchase is extremely high. These are the moments that retailers can really equip themselves to exploit and capitalise on (especially as call volumes look set to rise).
By tracking calls, retailers can monitor, identify and optimise the website pages that are driving higher phone conversions. With tools like Conversation Analytics, they can even go as far as analysing the language that shoppers are using and take this information to shape specific campaigns, making them more effective, targeted and better for the bottom line.
Monitoring phone calls can open up a wealth of insights that not only help optimise marketing activities but also improve agent training to refine how specific topics are addressed on calls, boosting the chances of securing high value sales and taking the customer experience to the next level. Ultimately, helping shape more accurate and insightful decisions on how to better focus sales, operations and marketing resources.
The future of retail calls
Despite the uncertain peaks and dips to online sales and in-person purchases, call data is an asset that can be used to keep retailers ahead of the competition in the midst of uncertain times.
Infinity’s latest eBook explains how you can harness intel from your calls and use it to understand the full customer journey, send your sales soaring, and unlock profit in the year ahead. You can grab a copy here.
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