Last minute holiday shoppers walk along a popular clothing district in Los Angeles on . Shoppers who are feeling good about the economy and spending more than expected on items like kitchen gadgets, toys and coats could make this the best holiday season in several years. Shoppers are spending at a pace not seen since the Great Recession, says Craig Johnson, president of retail consulting group Customer Growth PartnersHoliday Shopping, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Dec 2017

Consumers are keeping retailers on their toes. Narvar’s latest report, “Connecting with Shoppers in the Age of Choice,” found that consumers expect hyper communication from brands — especially during the delivery process.

“To deliver customer care at its highest level, brands will need to anticipate customers’ wants and needs, using technologies like voice and chatbots to communicate with shoppers at every point of their journey,” said Amit Sharma, founder and chief executive officer of Narvar. “The retailers that succeed in building loyalty with shoppers will be those that connect with people personally and communicate proactively.”

To discern the updated insights, Narvar conducted an online survey of 1,543 U.S. e-commerce shoppers between the ages of 21 and 65 who had made purchase online within the last six months.

The relevance of customer service continues to grow, according to the survey results. “Fifty-four percent of shoppers would give repeat business to a retailer that accurately predicts the date their package will arrive,” said the report.

Mistakes happen, especially during the shipment process. It’s how retailers and brands respond to mishaps that shapes future consumer loyalty. “Seventy-seven percent [of survey respondents] would give repeat business to a retail that resends lost or damaged items with expedited shipping,” the report said.

Shoppers are increasingly purchasing online and picking up in store. As dressing room experiences continue to lag, consumers are trying on items at home, resulting in heightened returns. This deems that retailers need to offer frictionless exchange and return processes in order to maintain consumers.

“Seventy-six percent of shoppers would give repeat business to a retailer that makes returns and exchanges easy,” said the report. “Sixty-seven percent [of respondents] would opt to return online purchases through the mail, but 25 percent won’t buy something if they don’t have the option of returning to a physical store.”

Voice-activated assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa are growing in popularity, too. According to the survey results, device ownership increased by 42 percent in the past six months. This is likely because of the convenience they provide.

“Voice shopping includes much more than product discovery and transactions; people are using voice throughout their shopping journeys. Because voice device owners are more likely than other shoppers to select automatic replenishment services, retailers have an opportunity to present them with more experimental predictive experiences,” said the report. “Fifty-one percent of shoppers use voice to research products, 36 percent use it to add items to their shopping list and 30 percent use voice to track a package.”

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