Its July 25th and I’m wondering when a particular member of my family will drop me her annual SMS letting me know she’s started her Christmas shopping!
I have diligently refused for many years now to rush my life away and won’t begin to consider what gifts to buy and for whom until December. Assuming I get to the Post Office on time, I will be done and dusted by December 16th!
I can’t help wondering however what huge numbers we will see reflected in this years statistics illustrating the growth in online shopping. Last year House of Fraser, Debenhams and Amazon reported significant increases in online sales. House of Fraser had the ‘best ever Christmas sales’ according to Econsultancy.com mostly generated by online purchases (up by 57.7%), Debenhams enjoyed a 27% increase and Amazon saw 426 items per second sold on Cyber Monday alone! And it didn’t stop with Christmas, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark revealed that on Thursday 26 December 2013, online sales increased by 40.4% compared to Boxing Day 2012. In addition:
- Sales completed via mobile devices were also strong, growing 63% year over year, and exceeding 45% of total online sales.
- Smartphones drove 29.9% of all online traffic versus tablets at 28%. When it came to making purchases, tablet users drove 29.4% of online sales, while smartphones users drove 15.8%.
Its clear the ubiquity of the high-speed, broadband enabled, multi-device consumer environment is undoubtedly going to drive more and more purchases through brand e-commerce sites.
Already this year retailers are planning their strategies to support and optimise this seasonal demand through the introduction and development of omni-channel solutions to meet the order volume increase that begins in late September and rises inexorably to a peak around mid-December. At any other point in the year, maintaining brand reputation through the provision of excellent customer experience management is pressured enough, but in the run up to Christmas its a huge responsibility.
In our business what we do to help meet such a ‘Dante’s Inferno’ of customer service challenges has been described to me as ‘full-on-sourcing’. It captures perfectly that sense of every business function area operating at full throttle – in HR and training, technology, front and back-end services, operations and logistics, when eight days a week are simply not enough!
I’d like to think the concept of ‘full-on-sourcing’ may in time come to describe not just the power we have in our industry to help ensure seamless and friction-free customer experiences at critical seasons of the year. I believe it may also one day perfectly describe the totality of what we do to ensure brands are able to plug in to any aspect of sourcing they need by accessing with ease ever evolving people, process and platform strategies to maintain efficient and cost-effective business models, drive revenue and sustain growth – all year round.
In short, not every customer is like my sister, in fact if they were some of the most exciting developments in our capabilities and innovations may never have happened! For the rest of us, lets hope our favourite brands are considering their ‘full-on-sourcing’ requirements in plenty of time for the Golden Quarter in 2014.
In anticipation – Merry Christmas!