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What Customers Expect from Retailers: Takeaways From the 2022 Holiday Season

By December 12, 2022No Comments

For retailers, there’s no more important time than the holiday season. Sales volume is at its peak, accounting for as much as a quarter of a company’s annual sales. However, it’s not just a critical period for revenue. The weeks that follow Black Friday and Cyber Monday often provide critical insights into consumer trends, preferences, and retail strategies for the upcoming year.

As we wrap up this year’s holiday rush, Publicis Sapient looked into the factors that are likely to influence customers’ shopping decisions as we head into 2023. Some of their key takeaways?

Customers are willing to share personal information with retailers.

54 percent of consumers said they felt comfortable or very comfortable giving retailers personal information, such as contact information and purchase histories, in exchange for deals and discounts. Only 13 percent said that they were uncomfortable or very uncomfortable with this concept.

Curbstone Customer Expectations for Retail Payments Experience 2023

It’s crucial, however, that retailers not take their customers’ trust for granted. Any time customers share sensitive data – whether that’s personal data or credit card details – the merchant must take appropriate steps to keep that information secure. Tokenization, for instance, replaces sensitive data with unrelated, unencryptable placeholder data that’s of no use to a hacker if breached.

Retailers should also be mindful of how much information they ask for – and in what context.  The “ask” must make sense in relation to what the customer will “get” in terms of the promotion, experience, or discount.

An easy shopping experience is crucial…

With so many retailers competing for a customer’s business, what can stack the deck in their favor?

Pricing was – by far – the number one factor in holiday purchasing decisions. An easy-to-use website or mobile app was the clear second. 35 percent of shoppers ranked website experience in their top 3 factors, while 10 percent called it their most important.

As far as the in-store experience? Expectations are similar. A well-organized store and a fast checkout, along with a convenient store location and helpful sales associates, were top priorities for brick-and-mortar shoppers.

 …But a bad experience can ruin the chance of repeat business.

Among shoppers who were primarily looking for the best deal, nearly 25 percent of customers said that they would not shop from the retailer again – regardless of price – if they did not have a good online shopping experience. A slow website experience, out-of-stock products, and a poor browsing experience were the most common frustrations.

So: what can a retailer do to provide the fast, seamless online shopping experience that customers have come to expect?

Curbstone 2023 eCommerce Retail ExpectationsAnticipate returns.

Most holiday shoppers know what they are looking for. However, nearly 40 percent of shoppers returned at least one of their purchases from the previous year.

While retailers can work on reducing their return rate – for instance, by providing video and chat tools to help customers make more informed decisions when they can’t see the merchandise in person – they also need to prepare for inevitable returns and exchanges.

Here too, customers have strong expectations for a fast and seamless experience; retailers must implement a system that allows for no-hassle refunds. The faster they are able to issue credits or exchange merchandise, the better they can meet these expectations.

Deliver a seamless experience – both for your customers and your employees.

While most retailers are primarily focused on improving the shopping experience for their customers – and rightfully so – there are many improvements to be made for internal teams as well. Integrated payments, for instance, can make payment processing less of an administrative burden. Customer Service and Finance employees don’t have to manually reconcile transactions or submit settlement batches at the end of each day, and they don’t have to chase data across separate business systems. This can help remove some of the stress from the already-chaotic holiday season (and other high-volume sales periods throughout the year).

At Curbstone, we’ve helped hundreds of retailers transform their approach to payments. Find out how our integrated solutions are helping traditional retailers and e-commerce brands deliver better customer experiences with less manual effort, or contact us today to talk about better payment solutions for your business.