Keep Holiday Shoppers Happy, in 3 Easy Steps
It's nearly impossible for online retailers to know each and every customer who visits their site -- today's curious customers are quick to try out new retailers, especially online. Those first-time shoppers don't need to be a mystery, though. Even if one retailer hasn't seen a particular visitor -- or the combination of that person's device and payment method -- chances are good that another one has.
11/21/13 5:00 AM PT
This holiday season, everything from Nerf N-Strike Elite Hail-Fire Blasters to Doc McStuffins dolls and even diamond jewelry will be purchased via mobile devices to a greater extent than ever before. In fact, mobile shopping will surpass the growth of all other channels during the upcoming holiday season, eMarketer has predicted, as more and more consumers change they way they purchase gifts.
Shoppers who want to check off items on their family's holiday wish list on the go via smartphone or tablet expect the shopping experience to be quick, easy and smooth. Unfortunately, as the shopping season heats up, unrecognized devices, unusual spending patterns, unfamiliar credit cards and various shipping destinations can raise red flags for retailers, and even the nicest customers can find themselves suddenly on the naughty list, victims of unwarranted credit card declines.
Will this make them happy? Of course not! Frustration among unhappy customers leads to alternative payment and shopping methods, ultimately fewer purchases and potentially negative word of mouth about their experiences -- whether with their credit card, bank or online retailer.
With this in mind, it's important to understand how to keep digital consumers satisfied through the holidays. Here are three things retailers can do to create a pleasant mobile shopping experience for their customers.
1. Know Your Customers Through Their Devices
The device is the mediating channel for online transactions and relationships and is the natural starting point for establishing trust. However, the key is linking the device with data elements that belong to the owner as well as their behaviors -- a recognizable pair that can be relied upon. Recognizing previous "pairings" will help to eliminate these falsely declined transactions and avoid the consequences of consumer insult. Recognizing customers based on the devices they're using will improve loyalty, especially during hectic holiday times.
This will also eliminate the need for unnecessary manual reviews of questionable transactions. The last thing a business wants to do is turn away valid purchases by loyal customers -- when this happens, shoppers are apt to visit another retailer instead. So use extra caution and evaluate the risk/reward payoff of allowing more transactions through without compromising the integrity of the business.
2. Crowdsource Customer Trust
Retailers have been preparing for the holiday season for months now. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible for online retailers to know each and every customer who visits their site. Today's curious customers are quick to try out new retailers, especially online, where they have the ability to browse many retailers with a few clicks of the mouse.
Those first-time shoppers don't need to be a mystery, though. Even if one retailer hasn't seen a particular visitor (or that person's device and payment method pairing), chances are good that another one has. By consolidating insights into consumer behaviors and interactions, all merchants can be in a better position to assess the trustworthiness of those consumers.
Not everyone purchases concert tickets, hotel stays or expensive electronic devices multiple times a year, but they are probably interacting with other e-merchants on a regular basis. Retailers must leverage technology to tap into existing e-merchant networks. The influx of excited holiday shoppers should not prevent them from having the best sales season to date because of customer distrust.
3. Hit the History Books
Finally, the more trust retailers have in their customer base, the more lenient they can be about enforcing strict fraud rules. For example, Sally Shopper, a frequent online consumer on a particular retail site, makes a purchase but ships to an address different from any others associated with her profile. The merchant can acknowledge that Sally Shopper is a loyal, trustworthy customer and that this behavior, while unusual, was intentionally made by its true source because of her trusted purchase history.
Established customers who have transactional histories on the Internet are nearly impossible to fake. A long, well-established online purchasing history that includes multiple transactions over multiple months at multiple retailers, as well as feedback from institutions or people that interacted with the consumer, help to tell a story of trust online.
The concept of trusted parties is already widely understood and accepted; credit scores, email whitelists and the TSA's Trusted Traveler program are all examples. Retailers that pay attention to their customers' online histories will find fewer reasons to raise red flags about transactions and will help to create smoother shopping experiences.
Have a great holiday, and keep those digital shoppers happy!