NEWS

Simplr 
takes the pulse of retailers ahead of the holiday shopping season

October 30, 2018

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New survey results explore trends and pain points around customer service during the holidays, show opportunities for growth in customer support and order logistics.

Today Simplr, the startup providing high growth e-commerce businesses with outsourced, on-demand U.S.-based customer service, announces findings from their retailer Holiday Shopping Season Survey. The survey, conducted earlier this year, analyzes the trends and pain points associated with handling customer service inquiries and issues among small to medium sized online retailers during the winter holiday shopping season.

The survey asked decision makers from small to medium sized e-commerce retailers for their feedback on their holiday business lifecycle and customer service support. Simplr found that many businesses see the holidays as a time of challenges with common business functions such as order fulfillment, returns and exchanges management, and customer support due to increased seasonal volume and interest.

Key findings:

Most companies reported that their holiday shopping season begins in October (35%) or November (37%), ending abruptly in December (48%) or January (47%).

  • Why it matters: It is as important as ever for smaller online retailers (less than 50 employees) to ramp up for the holiday season as early as possible in October, as many large retailers begin their holiday focus as early as September, particularly online. Staying competitive means being ready.

Fulfilling (62%) and processing online orders (46%), processing returns (37%), and customer chat support regarding online orders (38%) are the most time-consuming actions (for the business) during the holiday shopping season.

  • Why it matters: Customer support functions like help with orders or returns, continue to be a big opportunity for improvement for startup e-commerce brands, particularly those in industries with heavy competition from larger companies and websites.

Most companies still use email (92%) and phone (83%) as their primary method of inbound customer service requests and issues, but a rising number are using chat (43%) or a combination of either email or call and chat, particularly medium sized retailers (defined by 51+ employees).

80% of companies that use chat to handle customer service report using chat via the company website.

  • Why it matters: As shoppers increasingly expect immediate support while browsing on phones or devices, it is important, especially for small-medium businesses, to offer a variety of inbound channels for customer support like chat directly via their company website, in order to remain competitive.

Speed (51%), cost (48%) and seasonal increase in volume (45%) are the greatest holiday shopping season pain points

  • Why it matters: For small retailers online, the holiday season is a time of big opportunity for sales, but also a bigger burden on support teams that are generally small to begin with. Solutions like hiring part-time seasonal workers can be risky from a cost perspective, and don’t always come with the speed and precision needed to jump right into taking support tickets, which can impact customer experience.  

“Our goal with this survey was to obtain data around the pain points and opportunities that small-medium sized businesses are seeing, particularly around areas that customer support touches, that can be leveraged to better understand the challenges they are seeing and how services like Simplr or others in the ecosystem can step in to help,” said Eng Tan, CEO of Simplr. “The better we are able to understand how these businesses approach the holidays, the better we are able to serve them and create solutions that strategically benefit small-medium businesses, a growing contingency of businesses online.”

In addition to the survey, Simplr has also developed a guide for e-commerce entrepreneurs and small business owners on holiday prep and planning, best practices and more – The E-Commerce Entrepreneur’s Guide to Crushing the 2018 Holidays, available  here.  

“The better we are able to understand how these businesses approach the holidays, the better we are able to serve them and create solutions that strategically benefit small-medium businesses, a growing contingency of businesses online.”

-Eng Tan

CEO, Simplr

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