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How Omni-channel Serves Customers During Sales Events

Blog
10th January 2017

omni-channel sales black friday

It seems there are now more sales events than ever. Black Friday back in November was just the latest in a series of retail developments leading to many more big sales throughout the year, especially when compared to the old days, when I remember summer and January sales being just about all there was.

Around 90% of all payments on Black Friday were made on credit cards. This shows that card companies were really the big winners. The more cash spent by shoppers, the more merchant fees and interest for the credit card providers; so they will all be pleased that Black Friday was another record and the January sales are now here. There are three immediate issues that retailers need to think about during these big spikes in business:

  • Online security: it’s the best time for villains to strike your company with an online attack. This could be as simple as a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service), where criminals flood your website with so many enquiries that it collapses under the strain. Think hard about how you can keep your systems secure.
  • In-store security: card security is getting better, with most locations now using chip and pin systems (not always in the USA, yet) and some banks extending the required PIN to six digits; but with a big spike in business there is a greater need to watch out for in-store fraud.
  • Traffic spikes: even without a criminal attack, your servers will take a beating during busy periods. Use cloud-based storage and processing to ensure that you can quickly ramp up to meet the demand and then scale back again after the sale period.

But there are several other lessons we can take away from what happens to the modern omni-channel retail environment during these busy sale periods.

  • UK customers see sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday very much as a chance to find a bargain. Not many British people have that time free to shop in person, as the days are not holidays. This means that slow sites, lack of stock, and site crashes can all ruin your reputation on these days when online traffic grows substantially.
  • Customer service needs to be boosted for the sale periods. You know there will be a spike on these dates, so make sure that calls can be answered and social media channels are all being monitored.
  • Parcel paranoia can cause customer panic; even after orders are placed, be prepared to help customers track their orders. Consider automated systems that can help customers with common parcel questions.

So there are considerations regarding in-store infrastructure, supporting online stores and apps, and boosting the entire customer service operation to ensure that major sales events can offer a great customer experience – rather than a brand-damaging disaster.

What do you think are the key points retailers need to focus on to prepare for big sales events? Let me know in the comments, or get in touch on LinkedIn.

 


Helen Murray
Article by: Helen Murray

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