Preparing for EOFY sales success: 2024 omnichannel approach

(Source: Bigstock.)

As the end of the financial year approaches, Australian retailers are adapting their strategies to meet the evolving expectations of modern consumers. Today, customers aren’t choosing between shopping online or in-store; 75 per cent of consumers rely on both physical and digital touchpoints throughout their buying journey.

Shoppers expect both in-person and online options, faster delivery, real-time tracking notifications, and simpler returns. How can your business meet these high expectations while meeting tight deadlines? Our 2024 Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark Report provides the insights you need for success.

Key takeaways

1. Returns should be convenient and flexible
Ensure your returns process is straightforward and accommodating to maintain customer satisfaction.

2. Invest in hybrid retail and social media
Blend physical and digital retail, and leverage social media for product discovery and sales.

3. Develop a unified commerce strategy
Streamline every customer touchpoint and coordinate operational reporting.

4. Recognise generational and geographical differences
Understand varying delivery and communication preferences across different age groups and regions.

The future is unified commerce

While omnichannel commerce has been the focus for the past 15 years, unified commerce is emerging as its next evolution. Unlike omnichannel strategies that expand selling channels and customer experiences, unified commerce integrates every part of the retail process into a single platform. This includes backend operations and customer-facing systems like POS, providing a seamless experience for both customers and businesses.

Include social media in your omnichannel strategy

Most shoppers start their product research with search engines but often end up on online marketplaces and social media. Platforms like Amazon and social media sites are crucial for product discovery and sales, especially among younger shoppers. Including social media in your strategy can significantly boost sales traffic.

Success lies in hybrid retail

Physical stores are seeing a resurgence. Investing in a storefront or sharing a space with another business can enhance your brand’s visibility. Markets, bazaars, and special events also offer opportunities to showcase your products physically. Physical locations can boost online sales through the halo effect, where local online sales increase around a new store opening.

Navigating delivery expectations

Consumers want fast and free delivery, but balancing cost and speed is challenging. Many shoppers expect quick delivery but are often unwilling to pay extra for it. Businesses need efficient shipping solutions, using an omni-courier shipping strategy, to manage costs. Convenient delivery options tailored to your customer base are essential.

Global delivery expectations

We’ve briefly mentioned delivery expectations for the US and the EU. But how do these expectations compare to those of Canada and Australia? Here are a few key differences:

  • Australia: 28 per cent expect three-to-four-day delivery.
  • Canada: 31 per cent expect three-to-four-day delivery.
  • US: 37 per cent expect delivery within two days.
  • EU: 34 per cent expect delivery within two days.

Consumers want items sooner without paying premium costs. But your business needs to consider where you’re selling. This way, you can offer delivery options that best align with your consumers.

Embracing out-of-home delivery

Out-of-home delivery options, such as Amazon lockers and in-store pickups, are increasingly popular, especially in urban areas. These options reduce the risk of package theft and offer convenience.

Shipping insurance

Shoppers won’t always be home when packages are delivered. This makes packages more susceptible to theft. Additionally, packages can sometimes be lost or damaged in transit. These uncertainties can leave shoppers worried. Fourteen per cent of EU and Australian shoppers and 10 per cent of US and Canadian shoppers said they were less likely to shop with a brand again if they didn’t offer shipping insurance.

Shipping insurance like XCover available in ShipStation provides additional security for lost, stolen, or damaged packages, which can enhance customer confidence and satisfaction. Offering such insurance can improve customer retention.

Make returns flexible and convenient

Returns preferences vary by region: Australian and Canadian shoppers prefer courier pickups, while US and EU consumers prefer in-store returns. One thing consumers agree on is the importance of easy returns. Thirteen per cent of shoppers said convenient returns were the most important purchasing factor, compared to only 2 per cent of online retailers.

From a global perspective, returns should be taken seriously. Over one-third of shoppers in each region said inconvenient returns would keep them from making repeat purchases. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Australia: 40 per cent.
  • US: 42 per cent.
  • Canada: 42 per cent.
  • EU: 39 per cent.

Make your returns policy clear and convenient, and consider using tools like the ShipStation Branded Returns Portal to streamline the process. A hassle-free returns experience can significantly impact repeat purchases.

Revisit your returns policy

Returns play a major role in customer satisfaction. Thirteen per cent of customers believe simple returns are the most important delivery factor. Now is the time to ensure your returns policy is clear, concise, and convenient. Revisit your returns policy through a shopper’s lens. How many pages are customers taken through? Are returns free? We have a few tips to get you started:

  • Include links for carrier drop-off locations.
  • Clearly state whether or not returns are free.
  • Check all of your support channels are up to date.

ShipStation Branded Returns Portal

An easy way to improve your returns process is through the ShipStation Branded Returns Portal. Your customers can easily initiate their own returns with your generated link, eliminating the need for physical return labels and simplifying the process for both you and your customers.

Final thoughts

The retail landscape is constantly evolving, with consumers expecting more from online retailers. Understanding customer profiles and shopping behaviours is key to staying ahead and ensuring end-of-year sales success. 

About the author: Sonia Heinrich is marketing manager at ShipStation.