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Sports Business/05/10/2023

eCommerce: From Swipe to Stay

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Buying online is a bit like online dating: faced with a multitude of offers, customers are spoiled for choice. Retailers must therefore do their utmost. Whether it's loyalty programs or omnichannel communication - we reveal how to turn a fleeting affair into a solid relationship.

In e-commerce, customers often swipe back and forth between stores faster than they do when matching on Tinder. And just as with dating portals, the same applies to online stores: If you're looking for something permanent, you need to create lasting memories. Attractive offers alone are not enough. For stores, this means accompanying customers on their customer journey with advice and personalized service to make shopping and the after-sales process an all-round successful experience. Ghosting is taboo!

According to the creativestyle report, the sports and outdoor industry is already doing a good job in this regard. However, there are major differences among the 20 online stores surveyed: 13 offer welcome gifts for newsletter sign-ups, only eight have loyalty programs and only two offer four different communication channels.

Bad experiences? There's already enough in dating

Markus Rohmeyer, Chief Product Officer at Novomind AG, emphasizes the importance of customer service in the sports and outdoor industry: "Those who offer advice and personalized service in their online store before, during and after the purchase have advantages over the competition. Because both are part of a perfect shopping experience in digital commerce." That's why it's important for every provider in the sports and outdoor market to consider how customers can be convinced by their own store - or how optimal customer service must be set up. After all, half of all consumers say "Next!" after just one bad store experience. Several bad experiences then move 80 percent to a "Change partner".

Reading wishes from the keyboard

Whether product lists or search results pages - personalization features are common tools for a positive customer experience. Nowadays, the integration of conversational commerce use cases is also part of this. Services such as an availability alert for ordered goods, information about forgotten items in the shopping cart, or individually tailored product suggestions via WhatsApp motivate customers to come back. Those who also dovetail omnichannel commerce and customer service are successful. Customers often have a lot of questions about products that require a lot of advice, such as sports equipment, functional clothing, or sports and trekking shoes. They expect answers quickly and through the communication channel of their choice.

Advice-intensive products: Online customers expect a quick response
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Messe München GmbH

Best relationship hack: omnichannel communication

Spontaneously chatting with the service center, obtaining product information on the go via an app, and answering standard questions around the clock via intelligent FAQ centers and chatbots - that's how customers want to store today. And they want to switch seamlessly between touchpoints. Seamless" software solutions that map all channels in a single system enable customer service to maintain an overview at all times. These solutions make a significant contribution to optimizing the customer experience - especially when all omnichannel systems are perfectly networked with each other.

Extra tip

It is easier for customer service to process inquiries if they also have access to the order history in the online store. This increases efficiency and speeds up response times. It also speeds up purchasing decisions and prevents returns.

Touch with touchpoints

The importance of good customer service is often criminally underestimated in e-commerce, say the experts at creativestyle. In brick-and-mortar retail, employees are approachable in the store and can respond quickly and directly. Online, however, this is not so easy. Nevertheless, every supplier in the sports and outdoor market must be aware of how important a perfect shopping experience is. The more communication channels there are to choose from, the better, because a variety of channels is a great way to score points with customers. Nevertheless, according to creativestyle, the sports and outdoor industry is in the lower average with an average of only two touchpoints per store.

Live chat: Almost as good as face-to-face

The accessibility of the 20 online stores tested varies between 119 and 35 hours per week. It is particularly striking that only one store offers contact via WhatsApp/Messenger. Telephone hotlines and contact forms are more common (15 each). Customers can reach nine of the senders by e-mail and only six of the 20 online stores use chats as a communication channel. Yet a 2019 study by Forrester Research says that 63 percent of customers who interact with a live chat are more satisfied than with email or phone contact. No wonder: live chats definitely offer competitive advantages in eCommerce. They enable companies to offer their customers fast and direct service. This is increasingly in demand in today's world.

A live chat ensures quick help within a few minutes without annoying waiting time. Blue Tomato shows the way.

Consulting on the phone - still the first choice
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Berkeley Communications/

Small gifts keep the friendship

54 percent of online shoppers make repeat purchases from a store thanks to loyalty programs and thus spend more money - this is confirmed by a recent study by Magento. That's why online stores should do everything they can to bind customers to their own company. Loyalty programs that offer real added value have been proven to strengthen customer relationships.

Whether value vouchers, sale access, member sales, exclusive deals, competitions, events, or even mountain experiences - some online stores play the keyboard of loyalty programs very perfectly. Nevertheless, only eight out of 20 online stores offer a loyalty program at all.

Newsletters are also an established tool for increasing sales and customer loyalty; fortunately, according to the creativestyle report, this marketing tool has arrived in all stores. If there is also a discount code or a welcome gift on top of the first registration, customers are more inclined to make their first purchase in this store. 13 out of 20 stores offer this benefit.

The biggest welcome gift with newsletter signup is offered by 11Teamsports - aptly 11 euros!

Only eight out of 20 online stores offer loyalty programs
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Additional benefits for customers of the 20 largest online stores in the sports and outdoor market:

  • Collect points
    Customers can collect points with every purchase, which can later be exchanged for rewards.
  • Loyalty bonus
    Customers can receive a certain percentage discount or other benefit for each purchase.
  • Exclusive offers
    Loyalty program members receive exclusive offers, pre-sales or event invitations.
  • Personalized recommendations
    Personalized recommendations and offers are provided based on customers' purchase histories and preferences.

Collect valuable summit points: Bergzeit scores with a clearly structured blog.

Ghosting: No answer is also an answer

In the stress test, creativestyle's eCommerce professionals examined the extent to which the retailers' contact channels are suitable for clarifying background questions about products. To assess service quality in greater depth, they selected one product from each store and asked two questions via contact form or e-mail. In addition to the time required to provide feedback, the quality of the answers was also an issue. 13 out of 20 shippers were able to answer both questions. The hands-down winner needed just 13 minutes to do so, while the longest response time was 239 hours, 23 minutes. And: from four stores there was no answer at all.

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