It’s no surprise that online retail skyrocketed last year, with sweeping lockdowns keeping consumers home and businesses closed. A staggering 10 years of ecommerce growth occurred over just 90 days at the height of the pandemic and 84% of consumers did their shopping online.
The biggest buying event of the year, Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM), was also one for the records. Shopify reported its store owners made an astounding $5.1B in sales that weekend, up 76% from the prior year—and shoppers spent $11.8B on Thanksgiving and Black Friday alone. And with more customers using their smartphones to make purchases, social media platforms have transformed into marketplaces in their own right.
Instagram introduced shopping to its platform last summer as a direct response to the pandemic. Now, instead of clicking a “link in bio” when scrollers spot something they want, they can tap their way through a complete purchase directly from the post, without leaving the app. This is great news for brands because it’s another way for customers to find your store organically, boosting acquisition and sales. But some retailers were not ready for last year’s historic BFCM rush.
The danger of shutting your DM door
Any dramatic spike in sales brings an equally dramatic increase in brand interaction volumes. Savvy shoppers want answers immediately, without having to go anywhere—especially during BFCM, when great deals abound and the shopping stakes are high. For Instagram shoppers, getting help means sliding into your brand’s DMs. Quite literally.
Last BFCM, ecommerce brands were inundated with Instagram DMs. Some were so overwhelmed that they were unable to keep up and ended up turning the option off as a result.
Think about that for a moment.
You don’t have to be a marketing genius to realize this is bad on many levels. Bad for sales. Bad for acquisition. Bad for brand reputation. Bad for business, period. With one click, these retailers effectively negated every brand investment they had made throughout the year.
Meet your customers where they are
This has been a rallying cry for CX professionals in recent years, and with good reason. Ease is everything, and global social channel penetration is on the rise. Digital interactions are expected to increase by 40% post-pandemic and mobile users now spend five times longer in messaging apps than on voice calls. That means social messaging is where ecommerce brands need to be.
Customers today use their phones for everything. If they find your store on Instagram, they want to connect with your brand there, too. This is a good thing. Rather than trying to deflect these interactions, you should focus on talking more with your customers. Every exchange is an opportunity to build loyalty, strengthen your brand, or increase conversions. Embrace the onslaught by planning ahead and adding Instagram DMs to your CX strategy.
‘Tis the season to get DM ready—starting now
This year’s BFCM weekend is shaping up to be another bonanza. Industry-insiders are predicting BFCM sales will grow by up to 20%—with around 40% of customers now starting their holiday shopping before Halloween. Brands should be ready to start fielding more interactions from the end of October all the way through December.
Hiring seasonal live chat agents is not a cost effective way to scale. Plus, temporary hires that don’t know your brand that well can create CX inconsistencies. What you really need to manage the influx of Instagram messages is an automation-first approach powered by conversational AI.
The automation advantage
With an effective AI-powered brand interaction platform, you can effortlessly scale CX and show customers you value them by personalizing every interaction. Integrate Instagram messaging into your CX strategy to increase engagement and tap into new revenue opportunities. Give shoppers a holistic experience with the ability to turn an Instagram ad into a direct message and deepen the connection by using data-driven insights to tailor the CX.
Whether you are new to Instagram or a seasoned seller, you need to get your CX ducks in a row now to make the most of the upcoming shopping season. It’s a simple and smart way to “influence” your bottom line.