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Perhaps no other industry has changed more than retail since the beginning of the pandemic. In 2020, we saw curbside pickup increase dramatically in popularity, not to mention online shopping and other contact-free options. 53% of support teams have seen an increase in support queries since the start of the pandemic, and 45% of customers are more likely to use self-service now than they were before the pandemic.
In fact, customers are spending a lot more online since the start of the pandemic, and that growth is expected to continue at least through 2025. All that change brought new challenges for retailers still wondering how to increase retail sales and remain relevant through the pandemic.
Of course, the retailers who handled the pandemic most effectively were the ones who had already invested in digital-first and omnichannel solutions. Retailers who haven't prioritized meeting customer expectations for digital-first service, on the other hand, have largely struggled. The gap between brands that meet those digital expectations and those that don’t is widening.
Ever since the world has gotten more used to the pandemic, omnichannel strategies like buying online and picking up in store have dominated the retail space. Customers continue to value the convenience of these models, so digital transformation in retail is accelerating as quickly as ever.
In fact, many consumers are still limiting their in-person shopping to essential areas like grocery stores and pharmacies. This means that companies wondering how to increase retail sales need to focus on boosting their online presence and prioritize digital marketing and care — even after the pandemic.
Brick and mortar operations are shrinking as digital channels boom. What’s a retailer to do? One of the most important steps you can take in this retail landscape is to look more carefully at your customer experience data — the unstructured data you get from every customer interaction your company has. This data can be exceptionally valuable to your business, driving better customer experiences and a better bottom line. Here are five ways to increase retail sales through CX analytics, while also cutting costs and driving revenue in the process.
You get hundreds, maybe even thousands of customer service inquiries per day. But the reasons that people call aren’t always that different; in fact, your agents have probably noticed that they answer a lot of the same questions over and over. The good news here is that many — perhaps even most — inquiries can be prevented altogether simply by smoothing out a kink in the customer experience. CX analytics can help you identify some of those common underlying reasons for customer service inquiries, allowing you to fix the issue, drive a better ecommerce CX, and, most importantly, save valuable time and money.
Preventing these inquiries cuts costs, decreases average handle time (AHT), and improves conversion on your website. That means greater efficiency, more room in your contact center budget, and additional revenue across the business.
Let’s look at an example to see how CX analytics helped one global retailer fix a not-so-obvious issue. One of our clients noticed that retail sales were a bit lower than expected for a brand of sports jerseys they were selling online. They couldn’t tell what the issue was on their own, but Khoros CXI quickly noticed something they had missed: customers were repeatedly inquiring about jersey sizing, as the website’s wording was confusing. A quick fix to the website was all it took for sales to rebound: that brand of jerseys saw a 21% increase in conversion. Even better, inquiries related to sizing of that jersey brand dropped by 50%.
Returns and refunds are the bane of every retailer’s existence, especially when it comes to the ecommerce side of things. They create narrower margins, can frustrate customers, and are logistical nightmares. And it’s getting worse. CNBC reports that retailers had to accept returns on almost 17% of the items they sold in 2021. That represents over $761 billion of merchandise — more than 10% growth since 2020.
The goal for any retailer is to eliminate as many returns and refunds as possible — and the first step is to figure out why customers are returning particular items. Often, the reason is simple and fixable, and CX analytics data can help you find it.
Below is a chart that highlights the most common reasons for returning online purchases. By using CX analytics, retailers can identify the specific product defects, mismatched descriptions, and quality issues that customers are complaining about to bolster product development and reduce returns.
For one of our customers, online shoe sales are a significant chunk of their business, although they sell many other products as well. With the help of CXI, they found that 43% of dissatisfied customers were calling related to shoes that didn’t fit — and of those, 71% requested a return, refund, exchange, or order cancellation. That’s over 3,300 returns, just because of a fit issue on shoes.
Because CXI helped this retailer identify an issue, they were able to take immediate action, implementing a “virtual fit room” on their website, complete with 3D foot scan, brand comparison chart, and fit profile for more accurate sizing. This helped them reduce their number of returns and refunds, deflect inquiries away from the contact center, and create happier customers.
We talk a lot about how customers can help brands come up with new ideas and innovations for product development purposes. They’re the ones closest to the products every day, so they often have the best ideas. Every day, your customers probably make hundreds of unsolicited suggestions for ways they’d love to see you improve your products and services. Of course, going through those suggestions manually is time-consuming, expensive, and likely to miss important details.
Of course, this is another area where CX analytics can help. With an automated solution, your brand can do a better job than any individual human of uncovering new customer ideas, giving you greater creativity and efficiency in your product development process.
A customer who sells athletic gear on their website used Khoros CXI to discover that customers were interested in learning how much shoes weighed before purchasing. This meant implementing a new process to mark shoe weights, as they hadn’t historically tracked this information so closely. Using Khoros insights for guidance, they built communication avenues between distribution centers, warehouse management systems, and product teams to get the shoe weight information where it needed to be. The results were incredible. Overall, there was a 30% drop in inquiries regarding shoe weights, as well as an average increase of 11% in ecommerce conversion on running shoes, translating to millions of dollars of increased revenue.
When you’re running a global or even national brand, new opportunities to drive revenue come along every day. The sheer frequency of these opportunities makes it easy to miss the really good ones. Most companies miss great opportunities so often either because they’re not looking or because they don’t know what to look for.
But this is exactly the sort of thing CX analytics is good for. With an omnichannel analytics solution, your company can easily identify specific areas in which you can maximize profits. Whether it’s a new sale, a slight tweak to a promotion, or a different way to market a product, these changes can lead to millions of dollars in revenue.
Students are sometimes a difficult demographic to target. They’re often very particular and don’t have a ton of money to spend on superfluous retail expenses. But one retailer, a Khoros customer, realized that they were missing out on this segment. Khoros CXI helped them identify a particular trend that they otherwise might have missed: students were clamoring for a discount. The brand obliged, offering a discount on certain products, and the program was an immediate success. The student discount generated over $20 million in revenue, and 62% of customers who used the discount code were new customers.
We’ve talked a lot here about the customer — and rightly so. Having a customer-first focus is absolutely essential to running a successful contact center, especially in the cutthroat retail industry. But to take good care of your customers, you must give agents the tools they need to succeed. Khoros CXI helps brands identify low-performing agents as well as agent learning and development opportunities.
Khoros customers value these features because they drive ROI and increase bottom lines. Here’s what one customer had to say:
“One of the largest cost drivers in a contact center is silence time. CXI has been invaluable in helping us identify this silence time to understand why the CSR wasn’t able to quickly resolve the customer inquiry and then prevent the silence time from repeating itself with that CSR and with others in the future.”
— Melinda Keith, Senior Director of Customer Support, Hunter Douglas
These sorts of savings are hard to come by, but when Khoros CXI can help you identify opportunities for improvement, it becomes easy.
If you’re looking for ways to increase retail sales, Khoros is the partner for you. We offer the most comprehensive omnichannel analytics solution on the market, period. With Khoros CXI, you’ll have real-time insights at your fingertips to improve experiences, increase efficiency, drive innovation, and identify new opportunities. Get a demo today to learn how CXI can boost revenue for your organization.