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New data reveals the secret to holiday retail success

if you want to keep your customers happy over the holidays - your customer service teams, and social media teams need to be prepared for the increase in traffic.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Over the last few years, retailers have seen a dramatic increase in customer service requests, and social media traffic between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to new reports.

San Francisco-based AI powered customer service platform Helpshift has released its Holiday Performance Index.

The index includes data from the company's retail and e-commerce customers during the 2017 holiday season,(November 22, 2017 to January 1, 2018).

The report provides insight into retail and e-commerce support inquiry patterns during the holiday sales surge and shows just how critical automations and self-service options are for keeping support operations running smoothly.

Both online-only brands, and brands that are also brick and mortar saw an increase after Thanksgiving that continued into mid-December. Online-only brands saw their peak customer service requests on December 13.

This was 52 percent higher than the rest of the holiday season, and 129 percent higher than the remainder of 2017.

Brands that are both brick and mortar, and online saw peak customer service requests on November 27, (Cyber Monday). This was 65 percent higher than the rest of the holiday season, and 393 percent higher than the remainder of 2017.

Its not only customer service that needs to support its customers, the social team need to step up during the holiday period.

In 2018, consumers ranked social media as their number one source of inspiration for purchases. And retailers must prepare their social media response teams for the influx of messages they can expect this holiday, according to Sprout Social's holiday retail data report

It analyzed over 2.9 billion messages across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram over the 2015 to 2017 holidays. It noted that retailers saw triple the Twitter messages from consumers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday than on an average day that corresponding week.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now celebrated globally - the UK, Brazil, Canada and France have all seen consistent Twitter engagement over the past three years on these days.

Of the Twitter posts analyzed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, about a quarter (25 percent) had a discernible positive or negative sentiment.

Out of that, a quarter (25 percent) of posts that could be analyzed, about three out of five (60 percent) of those Tweets showed positive sentiment for either holiday throughout the last three years.

These holiday trends indicate that in November and December, retailers can expect an estimated 75 percent uptick in social queries from consumers compared to the rest of the year.

New data reveals the secret to holiday retail success ZDNet
Sprout Social

In 2017, retailers saw a 92 percent jump in the average messages received between January through October compared to November and December. Facebook leads social platforms in volume with almost double the volume of messages seen during the holiday season by retailers.

Instagram leads in growth with 120 percent more Instagram messages per day from November to December 2017 compared to 2016.

This trend means that retailers can expect an average of almost a third (32 percent) more social messages per day this holiday season than in 2017.

They can expect to see an estimated three quarters (75 percent) increase in messages per day this November and December 2018 than they saw in January through to October 2018.

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