How to Avoid Ending Up on Santa’s eCommerce Naughty List Next Year

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The end of the year is an ideal time for the making of lists. Lists summing up the year, or looking forward into the new one that is coming. Lists of accomplishments achieved, or opportunities missed. Lists of gifts to be given, or wish-lists to receive. And perhaps most important, Santa’s list of the deserving and undeserving: The Naughty or Nice List–and how to make sure you get on the right one in 2018.

As an eCommerce company, you don’t want to end up on the Naughty list and miss out on the goodies that go with the Nice list. We all know how to behave to stay on Santa’s good side. But can we say the same for our eCommerce operations? We’re somewhat in a new world, here. And while the customer is still central, just as in the old-timey brick and mortar days, that customer’s journey — from interest to purchase — is now completely different. How can you get on the Nice list and stay off the Naughty list in this new, fast-changing eCommerce world?

Let’s start at the beginning of that customer journey. It used to be that you got on the Nice list with an appealing storefront or showroom, with some optimal combination of nice products, appealing brands, and the right price points. There were lots of ways to get on the Naughty list, from poor assortments of goods badly displayed, to an unpleasant physical environment.

You don’t have to worry about the physical environment when we get to the eCommerce customer journey – but you do have to think about both the virtual showroom (the website) and how to bridge the gap between the virtual world and the real one, where the customer actually lives. It’s Naughty to have the digital equivalent of a messy, poorly-stocked store; it’s also Naughty to not provide your customers with information about how they will receive their goods until many clicks in to the purchasing process. It’s Nice to let your customers know right away if you offer free shipping (and what the purchase thresholds are for it) and, of course, to have an aesthetically-pleasing, easy-to-navigate site. Free shipping was deemed the most important incentive to shopping more online by 80 percent of consumers.

Moving along the path of the customer journey, it’s Nice in the brick and mortar setting to have a Sales Associate who is friendly and knowledgeable. For eCommerce companies, this role is filled by the product page, so a Nice one needs to have all of the information that a customer needs to make a decision – product specs, customer reviews and testimonials, video demonstrations, and the like. And, of course, a Nice product page will also provide detailed information about shipping – the range of options available, with expected delivery dates and prices. A Naughty product page will, like a Naughty Sales Associate, fail to give the customer all of the information needed to encourage a purchase – including just how you are actually going to get your purchase into your hands.

From the Sales Associate, you proceed to the Cashier – or, in the eCommerce case, the digital shopping cart. Here, it would be a Naughty cashier that suddenly sprung a large, unexpected charge on you – just as it would be Naughty for the digital shopping cart to shock you with far higher shipping costs than you were expecting. Far Nicer to have made shipping costs clear earlier in the transaction – after all, high shipping costs or shipping costs pushing total purchase price too high are a major reason for 58 percent of shopping cart abandonments.

In a brick-and-mortar store, your purchase will be bagged up and handed to you. In eCommerce, this step is replaced by the shipping and unboxing experience. It’s Nice to get your delivery when you expect it, nicely packaged. There are well over 30 million unboxing videos online; this is a stage in the customer’s journey where you will definitely land on either the Naughty or Nice list – and that list may be shared with thousands of friends and followers. Don’t be Naughty with slow shipping, missed deliveries, or cheap-looking packaging.

Finally, not every purchase works out. It’s Nice to be able to return unwanted goods simply, at low or no cost. It’s Naughty to confront your customer with a confusing or expensive (or both) way of returning goods that were, let’s face it, disappointing in some way. It’s far better to take returns as an opportunity to be really Nice – salvaging the all-important customer relationship and even offering a chance to make an additional sale.

Throughout the new customer journey created by the advent of eCommerce, there are ample opportunities to get yourself on one of two lists: Naughty or Nice. We know where we want to be; with the right business processes and supporting technology, it’s easy to make sure we land on the right roster.

Here’s a quick summary to make it even easier:

eCommerce naught nice

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About Author

Andrew Atkinson is the Director of Product Marketing at GrandCanals. Previously, he was the Director of Product Marketing at Cloud Cruiser. Andrew has proven ability to achieve and act upon a deep understanding of customers, markets and competitors. Formerly at E2open, Andrew has more than two decades of startup, international and IPO experience with various high technology companies. Andrew started his career in Boston, MA after he completed his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and then went on to complete his Masters in Applied Economics and Finance at the University of California, Santa Cruz.