We’re heading full steam into the holiday season, and (fingers crossed!) this year the optimistic forecast the experts have been sharing that the 2019 holiday season will be lucrative for retailers will prove solid for the jewelry industry.  The holiday shopping season doesn’t technically start until Black Friday, but many retailers around the country have already started to offer seasonal discounts designed to lure shoppers earlier in the season.

That means you still have a few weeks to work with your staff on polishing up those customer service skills, because according to a recent study released by Pitney Bowes, only 40% of consumers who buy online are actually happy with their online experience.

The Pitney Bowes “Online Shopping Study” has a lot of great information, but the thing that really caught my attention was the fact that sixty percent of shoppers reported being frustrated with the online holiday shopping experience this year, which is an increase of four percent from last year.  And even more interesting, dissatisfaction with the online shopping experience has almost doubled from where it was four years ago.

“Despite the significant investments retailers and marketplaces are making in the online shopping experience, consumers continue to be disappointed, especially around the holidays,” said Lila Snyder, EVP and President, Commerce Services at Pitney Bowes. “As an even larger percentage of consumer spending is expected to shift online this holiday season, retailers need to shift resources and investments to areas like fast and free shipping, accurate tracking and free and easy returns to keep up with consumer expectations.”

Root Canals and Revenge

This year’s Study included a number of questions asking consumers to associate an online shopping experience with an emotion (“love it! / hate it.”), or a range of universally enjoyable, or unpleasant experiences, such as “taking a vacation” or “having a root canal.”

For example, 86% equated some aspect of a poor post-purchase experience to “having a root canal,” especially these unpleasant events:

  • receiving a wrong or damaged item 72%
  • taking too long to get a refund after returning an item 64%
  • an inconvenient returns process 60%
  • having to pay for shipping 47%

When a retailer puts a consumer through one of these unpleasant experiences, they do so to the detriment of their brand. For the second year in a row, nearly nine out of 10 consumers said that they will make a complaint or take an action that could hurt a brand’s reputation and bottom line following a bad post-purchase experience. Among them, nearly one-third said a bad post-purchase experience is cause for never shopping with the offending brand again.

Traditional jewelry retailers can turn these frustrations into big customer wins, by implementing these steps to transform the in-store experience for your customers, and keep them coming back:

#1)  Offer a unique experience.  It’s the holiday season – so make sure that holiday spirit greets your customers every time they walk in.  Put some small baskets of miniature candy canes or peppermints around the store, offer your customers a cup of hot cocoa, or slip a thoughtful wintertime gift such as a small sample of hand cream (there are a lot of great options for bulk purchases on Amazon HERE  or lip balm HERE into their bag with purchase.

#2)  Make sure your store is kid-friendly, especially during the holidays.  If the kids are relaxed, the parents will relax, and hopefully take more time and spend more money!  Have individual packages of crayons and small coloring books available to give out for young children, or hire a “crafty” teenager who can help the kids make their own paper or wooden ornaments for the holiday season.

#3)  Reward your regulars.  Many retailers I know go out of their way during the holidays to show their customers how much they appreciate their business.  And the most successful retailers are rewarding the clients who give them the most business in bigger, and more creative ways.  People want to be remembered and acknowledged, and this goes double for customers who are spending money with you.  Spend some extra time investing in that top 20%, and give them a reason to invest more in you!

#4)  Make product placement a priority this holiday season.  Shake up your product placement for a new look and feel.  Move merchandise around and put new products together with old favorites, to help your customers discover new and interesting pieces you have to offer for the 2019 holiday season.

#5)  Make it about your community.  Want to connect on a deeper level with your customers this year?  Then find a community cause and embrace it!  Most communities have lots of local options for retailers to get involved with, but I also like the Toys For Tots campaign.  The basic mission of the Marine Toys for Tots campaign is to collect new unwrapped toys and distribute those toys to less fortunate children at Christmas.

Interested in learning more about how you can offer sparkling customer service to your client this holiday season, have questions about this article, or want to suggest a topic for me to cover in future blogs? I’d love to hear from you. Email me at Ann@JewelersSuite.com today!

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