Posts Tagged ‘Cyber Monday’

Holiday Shopping

Is Your Contact Data Ready for Holiday Shopping?

As I write this article, it is now just over a month before the holiday shopping period that runs from Black Friday and Cyber Monday through the end of the year – a period that, for many retail and e-commerce businesses, can represent nearly a third of their sales for the entire year.

This means that if you sell products to consumers, you have a lot on your plate right now. So I have a gentle reminder for you: if you haven’t already, you need to get your contact data accuracy squared away NOW. Let’s look at why this is important, and how to get there.

Why contact data accuracy matters

There are many reasons why having genuine, accurate and up-to-date contact data is a must – particularly as you head into the holiday retail season. Here are some of the most important ones:

Costs. You may not be shipping a 17-pound catalog to your customers or prospects, like one merchant has famously done in recent years. But whether you are mailing sales literature, contacting customers by phone, or hitting “send” on an email contact list, there are often substantial direct and human costs to using dirty or out-of-date contact data.

Compliance. Data privacy laws have changed rapidly in recent years, and penalties can be steep for non-compliance. Legislation such as the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the European Union’s strict new GDPR regulations, the CAN-SPAM Act for email marketing, and a host of new regulations coming online all underscore the importance of sending to accurate contacts who have opted in to receive your messages.

Customer reputation. Mis-deliver an order due to bad contact data anytime, and customers will be unhappy. But do this with someone’s holiday presents or Black Friday deals, and they will be furious – and much more likely to trash you to friends, relatives, and the entire world on social media. The holiday season is much more than a revenue opportunity: it is where brand reputations live or die.

Cash flow. This is perhaps the most important reason for accurate contact data as holiday spending looms: every inaccurate lead or customer record represents a lost revenue opportunity, at a time of the year when these contacts have their greatest potential value. Moreover, capturing accurate contact data at the time of ordering is critical to ensuring customer satisfaction, reducing future customer service issues and calculating accurate shipping costs.

Confidence. Finally, from a data quality standpoint, they don’t call it “Black Friday” for nothing. The holidays are the most error-prone time of year for data capture, as customers rush to purchase deals, and are often entering unfamiliar “Ship to:” addresses for gift purchases. Now, more than ever, it is critical to validate contact data at the time of data entry – and the time of use – to ensure clean contacts. (Ok – So maybe it is also called Black Friday because retailers enter into the black for the year.)

It isn’t too late

Thankfully there are automated solutions for issues like these – and you still have time to implement a data validation API, if you move quickly enough:

  • Our DOTS Address Validation and DOTS Name Validation products can help ensure that your holiday catalogs, brochures, or advertising mailings reach their targets. We validate and correct contacts from anywhere in the world, while flagging things like fraudulent or vulgar names or non-existent addresses.
  • Our DOTS Email Validation service helps ensure that email marketing messages reach their targets and avoid spam traps and CAN-SPAM violations. We don’t just check these addresses against lists: we correct common syntax and spelling errors, flag fraudulent or garbage email addresses, and discreetly test the email servers’ ability to actually receive email.

How long will it take to implement capabilities like these within your CRM or marketing automation platform? Often less than a day, with the right programming talent – here is a recent article, API Integration: How Much Time to Set Aside, that breaks down the time needed. And you have a secret weapon to help your implementation go smoothly: our friendly and knowledgeable technical team, who is always happy to help.

There is still time to implement validation services that will quickly pay for themselves. Need help to get going? Contact us and we’ll help you hop right on it – and make this your best holiday sales season yet.

Black Friday Neon Sign

Exceptional Customer Service Knows No Holiday

The four-day Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the start of the holiday shopping season, with Black Friday sales bolstering bottom lines and consumer spirits. Retailers, online and off, are expected to see another year of record-breaking holiday sales.

Live support when our customers need it most

Thanksgiving has been a source of controversy in the retail industry in recent years, with more companies opening their doors for blockbuster sales on Thanksgiving Day itself – and some companies vowing to stay closed through the holiday.

Our stance? When our customers are open, we’re open. During the busiest and most mission-critical times of the selling season, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s crucial that the businesses that support retail transactions are available if questions arise.

Our commitment to customer service excellence

Supporting our customers through the busiest time of the year is just one way that Service Objects is committed to customer service excellence. Our customers benefit from our sub-second response rates, 99.999% server uptime and dedicated 24/7/365 technical support. The entire Service Objects team takes pride in our customers’ success.

Record sales, record transactions

Loeb, Visa, and eMarketer predict retail sales will continue to grow, with holiday sales rising between 3.5-4.8% in 2018.

According to Geoff Grow, Chief Executive Officer at Service Objects, industry trends and forecasts predict that Service Objects will exceed transactions processed over the 2017 holiday, making Black Friday a prime day for a record number of transactions. He says, “Our services will continue to ensure that merchants can validate, clean and enhance their customer contact data in real time, backed by the support of our industry-leading technical team and extensive data sources.”

Services for busy retailers

While 2018’s projected growth presents an exciting opportunity for retailers, it is not without risk: with record sales come record opportunities for data entry mistakes and fraudulent orders.

Service Objects offers 24 different contact data APIs that validate a person’s name, global address, phone and email address against hundreds of authoritative data sources. Our tools can also append missing contact information or provide location intelligence about your contacts. We even have a service that provides sales and use tax rates based on a contact’s location. No matter what data quality challenge your business is facing, we have a solution that meets your needs.

If you have a question about how our data validation services can help your business, reach out to our team. If you’re a current customer with a support question, you can open a support ticket here.

Cyber Monday is Coming. Is Your Business Ready?

In 2017, Cyber Monday sales reached an all-time high – and trends show that we may see another record-breaking year. Service Objects broke its own record last Cyber Monday with the most transactions in a single day. Why were our data validation tools so in-demand? Because excited customers rushing to score online deals make lots of data entry errors. Capturing authentic contact data helps businesses avoid mistakes in the ordering and shipping processes and prepares them for future opportunities, like marketing campaigns and additional sales.

Data validation services enhance data quality in real-time by identifying and correcting inaccuracies. For example, order validation not only verifies that an order is legitimate, it also corrects and appends contact data like name, address, email, and phone number using up-to-date, proprietary databases. Cross-referencing IP, address, phone, email, and credit card information helps every aspect of your business – from making ordering and shipping efficient to helping flag identify fraud and verifying email addresses for future communications.

Data Quality at Point of Sale

Validating an order at point of sale helps smooth out transactions for customers by suggesting more accurate addresses and updating typos. Adobe Insights reported that Cyber Monday sales grew 16.8% from 2016 to 2017 reaching $6.59 billion, $2 billion of which were completed on a mobile device. Because we make five times more mistakes on mobile than desktop, fat-fingered typos and autocorrect issues are becoming more prevalent.

Order Validation can also help prevent fraud in real-time by verifying that customers are legitimate through cross-checks of contact data, IP address, and credit card information. These verifications can flag suspicious activity related to identity theft and high-risk prepaid cards, which helps avoid related chargebacks. Fraud hurts businesses through lost product, money, and hours managing the fallout – the best way to avoid those costs is through preventative measures, like validating orders before shipping.

Data Quality and Order Fulfillment

With last year’s record sales came unprecedented shipping demand, and shippers like UPS struggled to meet delivery expectations all over the country. Customers anxiously awaiting their packages took to Facebook and Twitter to air their grievances, but while UPS was the bottleneck, many angry tweets were directed at vendors.

Given the rising trend in Cyber Monday sales over the years, it’s likely this year will bring even more orders, shipments, and delivery-related problems. Using a CASS certified address validation service, like the one incorporated in Service Objects’ DOTS Order Validation API, can help ensure that your shipping addresses are correct and deliverable. The service can be implemented to help customers self-correct inaccurate information before submitting their order, or can be used post-transaction to ensure accuracy by finding issues and suggesting corrections before shipping.

Customer Service Benefits from High Quality Data

The holidays are a stressful time, and shoppers have hard deadlines when ordering gifts in November and December. According to the National Retail Federation, 38% of consumers expect free two-day delivery when making online purchases. Address verification helps meet these expectations, cutting down on service inquiries for delayed packages. Order Validation also validates email addresses and phone numbers, ensuring notifications reach shoppers and giving your customer service representatives everything they need to communicate effectively.

Precise contact data saves your customer service team time troubleshooting and appeasing upset callers, strengthens your relationship to promote repeat business, and helps you manage your reputation. And, in the off-chance that something does go wrong, your team will have the most up-to-date order information to handle the call and assure your customers that you care.

High Risk Days Require High Quality Data

Data quality plays an important role in managing the risks of high-volume transaction days like Cyber Monday. The best way to ensure contact data doesn’t get in the way of your biggest sales day is by validating and verifying transactions with a service like Order Validation. You can even try it out today with a free trial key.