Research from Aspect Software, a provider of customer contact and enterprise workforce optimisation, reveals that the UK retail industry could be losing millions of pounds worth of online sales from customers that simply click away from a full basket. In fact, when asked if they acted on abandoned baskets, 52 per cent of retailers claimed that they currently did not, with 12 per cent saying that they had no plans to introduce a recuperation strategy.
Conducted over the summer of 2012, Aspect’s study surveyed 150 UK retailers with annual revenue of over £100m, and looked at what retailers were doing to better engage the next generation of consumers and increase sales.
Despite an overwhelming number of retailers (99 per cent) agreeing that recouping abandoned baskets on online stores would increase their sales, just over a third (37 per cent) are currently employing the use of technology in the contact centre to do so, such as sending a personalised email to the customer.
On average, retailers claimed that sales increased by, or expected them to increase by, 13 per cent a year. And of those that have an abandoned basket recuperation strategy or are planning/considering it, 81 per cent follow up/plan to follow up with customers within 24 hours.
The study, which analysed the current and future customer engagement strategies used by UK retailers, also discovered that multi-channel retailing, better use of automation in the contact centre and home working for agents are all key trends to monitor over the next 18 months.
For customer engagement, the survey also found that mobile applications and SMS prove to be the most popular channels, with 27 per cent of retailers currently using one or both and increasing to 34 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. By the end of 2014, 46 per cent will purchase mobile applications.
“With nine in ten medium to large UK retailers trading through more than one channel by 2014 and eight in ten with an online store, retailers are increasingly investing in online technology and resources to battle the effects of the double-dip recession and the closure of 14 physical outlets per day,” stated Richard Piatkowski, Head of Retail Accounts at Aspect.
“Even for the smaller end of the sample surveyed, the average actual or expected increase in sales represents £13m. The good news is it looks like things are changing – 36 per cent of retailers did say that they were seriously planning abandoned basket recuperation strategy, or considering it long-term.”
Piatkowski added: “There are UK retailers using customer engagement technology in some pretty clever ways. In the past, I think it’s fair to say that retailers weren’t great at making the most of their online presence and using it for engagement and driving loyalty effectively, but today’s consumer just won’t accept bog-standard ‘we will get back to you within 48 hours’-type emails any longer. Those adapting and improving their service through seeking benefits from the progressing market are those surviving.”
To further explore how retailers are keeping up with consumer demand and what strategies are being implemented, download the full report here.