Prince George celebrated his first birthday this week, causing a huge increase in traffic for Petit Bateau. George was photographed wearing the childrenswear retailer’s dungarees and the resulting press coverage meant that they quickly sold out.
Many retailers have been noticing this ‘George effect’ over the past year. For example, following the royal family’s portrait for Mother’s day this year, the prince’s personalised baby blue number from baby clothes retailer My1stYears.com sold 1,200 jumpers within a few hours. In addition, Reiss has seen profits rise after becoming a brand favoured by Kate Middleton.
With unpredictable spikes in traffic and increase in sales depending on what George wears, retailers cannot afford to lose out because of a website malfunction or a transaction failure. The back end infrastructure to cope with an unexpected traffic peak and high demand is essential and in addition, retailers still need to offer a great customer experience.
So what can retailers do to ensure their website copes with unexpected peaks from the George Effect?
1. Identify ‘booms’ in advance
Anticipate potential traffic booms—for example, seasonal peaks such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day can be planned for. Put global systems in place to cope with these demands so your website doesn’t slow down or deteriorate in quality with an increase in traffic or access. This ensures that the user experience is the same quality around the world.
2. Prioritise customer experience
Be critical of your site. Is it easy to find product information? How long and complicated is the checkout process? How does it compare to your competitors? Too many strategies focus on customer acquisition but repeat business is far more profitable so your user experience needs to be better than your challengers.
3. Send a speedy email
Send a personalised email confirmation to the customer immediately after they have purchased in order to continue the positive customer experience. Personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%, according to a study by Aberdeen. The transactional portion of the message should be at the top of the email, but there is also the opportunity to sell matching items with marketing messaging below. So if you have sent a receipt for a Prince George style baby t-shirt, catch attention with an item that compliments the one purchased.
4. Any questions?
Ensure you have capacity to deal with any queries or complaints from customers. For example they may want to return an item or a product might not be what they expected if they didn’t have enough information about it in the first place to make an educated purchase. The main challenge for online retailers at peak times is making sure that these queries are answered in a timely manner. These problems can be remedied, it just requires a consistent commitment to go the extra mile. Ensure you are accessible, offer channels for support and set customers’ expectations around when they will hear from you.
Celebrity endorsement can be hugely valuable for brands but if you don’t have the back end infrastructure to cope with demand and your website crashes, you’re likely to suffer a lot more than you would benefit. As a result, your Internet performance is key and it’s about much more than providing a high-speed network. You need to ensure the delivery of content and a better end user experience for your customers. Thinking about your customers throughout the whole journey – from accessing your website to ensuring your emails hit their Inbox – is crucial to your success, no matter how busy and in demand your site is.