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Benchmarking examples in retail you need to track.

March 22, 2022 By: Alex Lacey

Many people adapted to digital out of necessity during the pandemic. Now, a majority of people prefer to interact online. The digital-first mindset is here to stay, for both retailers and customers.  Our 2021 survey of 2,000 UK consumers aged 18+ supports that, revealing 70% of Brits prefer to buy online. With the shift to digital-first, there are new benchmarking examples in retail that you can track to ensure that you are delivering a standout user experience. 

Predicting the unpredictable.

Today’s shoppers are less predictable. Their behaviour patterns change constantly. Because of these factors, retail benchmarking is adapting accordingly, with greater focus on areas like longer sales cycles, shopping via mobile phone, and shopping cart abandonment.

Black Friday’s changing nature.

In line with these trends, Quantum Metric’s analysis found 64% of people started their Christmas shopping long before Black Friday. Wondering why we’re bringing up Xmas? Because similar patterns of behaviour are echoed throughout the year, albeit less exaggerated.

Elissa Quinby, Quantum Metric’s Director of Retail Insights, agrees: “There’s a perception in retail that everything has to be lined up for Christmas by October – allowing for the winter code freeze. In reality, consumers are thinking about and acting upon their Christmas shopping well before then, and their behaviour is changing after that date as well. Retailers need to examine how people interact with their digital products – websites and apps – to ensure they’re not missing opportunities and aren’t too late to the game.” 

Shopping seasons are lengthening.

Further backing these sentiments up is Quantum Metric’s 2021 Christmas retail benchmarking. According to the report, consumers started buying and researching gifts earlier in the year. 

Come December, daily traffic had declined by 20% on average compared to 2020, and the focus was on purchasing decisions.

Average order values spiked in December, exceeding 2020 figures. On December 22nd, for instance, they were 70% higher than the same date the previous year. Meanwhile, conversion rates were two times higher in December 2021 than 2020, supporting the emerging “browse first, buy later” trend.

Alongside these stats, our November 2021 consumer survey found nearly half of UK shoppers (46.3%) started their Christmas shopping pre-November, with a meaningful 73% of that group saying it was about the same time or later than normal.

Post-Christmas shopping.

So what happened after the festive period, exactly? 

Traffic didn’t continue falling. In fact, traffic levels were equivalent to the second week of November. That tells us more people prefer to shop online than ever, regardless of the time of year.

Covid, Brexit and inflation.

Covid, Brexit and rising inflation have led to longer and more erratic sales cycles, with consumers taking longer to make purchasing decisions. 

With that in mind, retailers should concentrate on offering top-quality goods at the best prices, coupled with a year-round, first-in-class customer experience (CX). These days, it’s not enough to only impress your customers during the Golden Quarter.

Moreover, in an era of Agile development and fierce competition, online businesses should take an iterative approach. This means pushing out more regular and small updates, as close to real-time as possible. As a result, code freezes may become a thing of the past, or at the very least less relied on.

Mobile reigns king.

So what is the future of online shopping?

It’s about focusing on when and how consumers shop. Our benchmark data showed that as Christmas 2021 approached, mobile remained the preferred channel, driving more than 63% of retail traffic. Meanwhile, conversion rates for mobile were 125% higher than desktop on December 24th.

This means retailers need to invest in a mobile analytics platform that helps them gain insight into how users navigate their mobile apps. 

Purchase size on mobile.

At the same time, average order values via mobile remained consistent during the Christmas holidays, at an average of £88 – 57% less than desktop. 

Perhaps this is a reflection of consumers using desktop to research and buy bigger items, and mobile for smaller purchases?

Customer frustration as a benchmark.

The 2021 Christmas season saw less customer frustration compared to 2020 – on December 24th, frustration was 53% lower than the year before. 

That data reflects the customer activity of retailers who used Quantum Metric’s products in 2021, indicating their investment had a positive impact on CX.

Measuring cart abandonment.

In terms of cart abandonment, 2021 saw an increase relative to 2020, with a 77% year-on-year difference for December.  Additionally, rates were as high after the 25th as they were on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Couple that with mobile abandonment rates remaining high, and two patterns shine through: 

  1. The panic of searching for last-minute gifts
  2. People creating informal wishlists right up to and beyond Christmas

Understanding the why.

Monitoring benchmarks helps retailers achieve agility, adapt with speed and confidence and improve CX. But what does benchmark tracking involve? 

Benchmarking examples in retail requires visibility, understanding and the following:

Behavioural metrics.

Using behavioural metrics such as friction rates, retailers can see an experience through consumers’ eyes. This enables retailers to empathise, anticipate customer needs, and make changes accordingly.

Session replay.

By viewing user sessions, retailers gain a deeper understanding of the customer perspective, helping to:

  • Reduce customer friction
  • Optimise conversion rates
  • Co-browse with customers

Quantum Metric’s pioneering session replay tools capture metadata behind the replay, including user platform, API calls, and network details, enabling better decision-making.

Anomaly detection.

This helps retailers understand the ever-changing needs of their customers, identify key trends and spot bugs, thereby maximising revenue.

Read more about anomaly detection techniques in retail

Opportunity analysis. 

When deciding which items in the product backlog to address, you want to focus on the features that will drive the most business value. Fix the glitches and enhance the features that will drive revenue for the organisation. 

Quantum Metric for retail.

With digital-first here to stay and customers increasingly unpredictable, how can retailers prepare? 

By taking an iterative approach, being customer-centric and tracking retail benchmarks like cart abandonment.

To learn how Quantum Metric can help monitor the benchmarking examples in retail, request a demo today.


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