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A Happy Christmas for retailers?

January 22, 2014 Leave a comment

New figures show that retail sales in December increased at the fastest rate for nine years. Statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that sales in December were up 5.3% on 2012, and 2.6% greater than November 2013. 12% of sales were through the online channel. Separate research from the IMRG-CapGemini eRetail Sales Index show that UK shoppers spent £91 billion online in 2013, with an estimate that 2014 will see internet sales of £107 billion.

Empty shops Ramsgate - 8

However it has not been good news for every retailer. Some supermarkets reported disappointing results, as did Debenhams and Marks & Spencer. The message seems to be simple – customers are spending more, but are being choosier on where they shop.

So what can retailers do to maximise their performance – particularly now that the peak Christmas season is over and it is even more difficult to generate sales? Both the IMRG and ONS figures give some useful pointers to 2014 trends that retailers need to focus on:

1          Make it mobile
Online sales may be up, but according to IMRG growth is largely by driven by mobile commerce. Over a quarter (27%) of internet sales came from tablets and smartphones. This means that retailers need to be sure that they have a mobile strategy in place, particularly that their websites are optimised and, if relevant, they have apps in place to help drive sales.

2          Embrace omnichannel
A quarter of multichannel retail sales now involve click and collect services. This provides traditional retailers with a chance to use their existing bricks and mortar shops to good effect, both in differentiating themselves and also driving more visits, with accompanying potential add on sales. The whole process needs to be seamless and easy for the customer if the experience is deliver ongoing sales.

3          The experience is key
Customers are gravitating to retailers that deliver the service that they are looking for. Interestingly, the ONS figures showed that small shops grew their sales more than their larger competitors, gaining 8% in 2013, against 2.6%. Much of this is down to the personalised attention that they receive – help in finding the right product, advice and after sales support. Retailers of all sizes therefore need to focus on the end-to-end experience, understanding what customers want and then engaging with them in the right way.

After the tumult of Christmas retailers across the UK need to take the time to analyse their performance, benchmark themselves against their peers and begin planning for Christmas 2014 – it is less than 340 days away……….

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Eptica sponsors Executive Customer Contact Exchange

April 25, 2013 1 comment

Carton House

The customer experience has never been more important to businesses. Channels such as social media enable customers to instantly share their views on brands with the world while advances in web and mobile technology mean that consumers now demand instant answers and a superior experience whatever device or channel they are using.

Being able to balance these pressures while operating efficiently and driving increased sales is central to business success in the current economic situation. However working out where to start can be daunting – how do you create and refine strategy, engage your customer service staff and make the best investment decisions to take your business forward?

Next week’s IQPC Executive Customer Contact Exchange aims to arm customer service heads with the information they need to overcome today’s challenges. Being held in Dublin, the exclusive event will bring together 80 directors responsible for customer service from leading brands with expert speakers from organisations including BSkyB, AIB and Forrester Research to share their experiences and provide practical advice.

Eptica is Silver sponsor of the two day event, which will feature round table discussions, cutting edge case studies, practical workshops and structured networking in the comfortable surroundings of the 18th century Carton House Hotel. The agenda includes sessions on:

  • Aligning customer service strategy with wider business requirements
  • Balancing customer service with increased sales and profitability
  • Driving sales through service
  • Driving customer loyalty through motivated employees
  • What does the future hold for customer service?
  • The ROI of going from customer service to customer experience

Eptica will be attending to share its experiences of helping brands such as Dixons, TUI, Debenhams and Domestic & General deliver a superior omnichannel customer experience. Eptica’s Multichannel Customer Interaction Suite 8.2 has been developed to help businesses accelerate online sales and turn customer service into a revenue generator by meeting customers’ increasingly high expectations across every channel and device. With knowledge based proactive web chat, enhanced Web Self-service for web, social and mobile, customer sentiment analysis and emotion based routing across all digital interactions, the latest version of Eptica’s solution provides the platform for brands to transform the customer experience, create competitive advantage and increase sales.

The Executive Customer Contact Exchange takes place between 29-30th April 2013 at Carton House in Ireland. For a full agenda simply click here.

How to future proof retail customer service

April 27, 2012 3 comments

Competition in retail has never been harder – and the pace of change is ever accelerating. Just as traditional bricks and mortar shops have evolved to have a web presence, they are now faced with the challenge of integrating other new channels, such as social commerce and mobile into their strategies.

While social commerce is still in its infancy, customers are increasingly looking to interact with retailers through Facebook and Twitter, demanding answers to their questions, looking  for special offers and even buying through social media. Already retailers are looking to capitalise on this opportunity. For example, Eptica customers Vertbaudet and RueDuCommerce have integrated Facebook into their overall customer service strategy, adding the ability to ask questions through their Facebook pages by linking them to their central customer service systems.

When it comes to mobile nearly 50% of the population are now equipped with smartphones – a figure that is only going to increase. While in many cases transactions themselves aren’t carried out on a mobile, they are used for in-store research, price comparisons and reading reviews before purchase. Retailers need to ensure they can support this shift in user behaviour.

Whatever channel they are using effective and efficient customer service is the crucial element in winning and retaining customers. But how can retailers integrate these new channels such as social and mobile into their customer service strategy without adding to complexity or cost?

Essentially, if you want to succeed in this rapidly changing environment, your customer service needs to be flexible, allowing you to seamlessly integrate new channels, while delivering consistency through a centralised knowledgebase.

Based on its experience working with retailers across Europe (including Dixons, La Redoute, FNAC, Debenhams and Darty) Eptica is running an in-depth webcast on how retailers can future-proof their customer service.

Join us on Thursday, 3rd May 2012 at 12.00pm UK time and find out how to build a truly multi channel customer service, supporting new innovations like Facebook Commerce and Mobile.

Paul Barnes, Eptica’s Managing Director, will provide insight on:

  • How to build ’future proofed’ multi channel customer service systems
  • How to improve service efficiency while reducing operational service costs (by up to 40%)
  • How to increase engagement on your customers channel of choice and increase your sales

    Places are limited, reserve your seat now!

Eptica raises £5.7 million to accelerate growth

April 26, 2012 3 comments
Image representing Eptica as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

In a difficult economic climate, raising new investment is notoriously hard, even for successful companies. So the news that Eptica has raised £5.7 million in a new funding round is a strong endorsement of the market need for our solutions and ability to grow. The funding comes from new shareholder Auriga Partners, alongside existing investor Omnes Capital (formerly Crédit Agricole Private Equity).

Eptica has been expanding quickly, with a compound annual growth of 37% since 2005 and a string of new customer wins, with the likes of Debenhams, TUI, Direct Wines and Travel Jigsaw in the UK, Auchan China, and Darty, Metro, Pagesjaunes and Quiksilver in France signed in 2011 alone.

This growth is being driven by the rising importance of multi channel customer service around the world. Consumers are now contacting organisations through more and more channels – from telephone, web and letter to email and, increasingly, social media. Whatever channel they use they want fast, accurate and helpful responses from customer service. If not they’ll take their business elsewhere and use the megaphone of social media to complain to their friends, contacts and the wider world.

At the same time organisations need to operate efficiently and Eptica provides a centralised platform that makes customer service joined-up across all channels, allowing companies to deliver consistent information however consumers contact you.

The new investment will be used to strengthen product development, building on the existing technical innovation within Eptica’s software suite to ensure it evolves to meet customer needs, and to aid international expansion. Our software is already available in 26 languages, with customers served from offices in France, the UK, Spain, Canada and Singapore and the new funding will help further accelerate global growth.

Summing up the investment, Olivier Njamfa, Eptica CEO and President concluded, “Today marks an exciting moment in Eptica’s development and we are proud to be supported by such renowned investors. We’re now able to build on our previous success and embark on a new phase of growth that enables us to embrace the growing market opportunity around the world.”

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