More Retailers Offering Chat, But Usage Dips in December

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 3.29.12 PM

With online chat continuing to gain traction as a channel for customer support, we recently investigated how the chat landscape has changed. Not surprisingly, our data confirmed that the slate of retailers offering online chat is growing, with 13 retailers launching an online chat service in the last 18 months.

Chat offers retailers greater flexibility than traditional phone support. A retailer that offers phone support will, generally speaking, make that phone line available during normal business hours at the bare minimum. Chat, however, can be turned on and off on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis. Sometimes it’s great for handling a period of high-volume contacts as agents can manage multiple chats at the same time. And, the one-to-one nature of the conversation provides greater Issue Resolution rates than Email.

The availability of chat, however, can be spotty. While StellaService analysts attempt to initiate chat support on a daily basis — with over 100 retailers …

Read More

Preparing for the Holiday Rush: Q&A with Kevin Gardiner of Macy’s


Editor’s note: This interview is excerpted from StellaService’s Q3 2014 report, Essential Holiday Ecommerce Data & Best Practices. Kevin Gardiner is Director of Store Operations & Strategies at Macy’s. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Experts predict this will be the largest holiday ecommerce season in history. How are you preparing for that at one of the largest department stores in the country?

Our .com business has continued to outpace the industry’s growth. We have been dealing with such massive growth that last year we were more than prepared. [...] It’s one thing to plan for your business to be up x-percent, but it’s really just a few key dates that drive that volume. We’re trying to be more flexible. [...] We usually over-prepare. We over-hire. What we’re starting to do this year is work with outsourced partners and work-at-home [agents].

What motivated that shift to more outsourced and in-home agents?

Last year we had …

Read More

How To Predict the Future of Physical Retail in the Digital Age


The dawn of the Amazon Age has shifted momentum in favor of online shopping. E-commerce is continually picking up speed and reaping market share, solidifying its place as the preferred shopping way of the future. But believe it or not, despite the ease and convenience of a one-click-shop for all your necessities and luxuries, the majority of shopping still takes place offline and in the store. By the end of the 2013 holiday season in-store shopping garnered $265.9 billion compared to only $46.5 billion online – proof positive that physical stores aren’t going to suddenly and completely disappear. In fact, retailers still need to know and interact with their customers on a personal level, making a brick-and-mortar retail strategy a key tool for both traditional retailers and ecommerce-only brands alike.

Maintaining a geographic footprint can be a significant financial burden for retailers, seemingly a crippling cost that can’t be sustained as ecommerce gains share. However, …

Read More

Scaling Ecommerce: Retailers Invest in New Distribution Centers For Online Orders


Market research firm eMarketer projects ecommerce sales in North America will increase from $431 billion in 2013 to more than $660 billion in 2017. That increase in online sales paired with growing consumer expectations around shipping times is prompting retailers to build sophisticated distribution centers dedicated to fulfilling online orders.

Here’s a list of retailers and distribution partners that are building or renovating facilities dedicated to fulfilling orders from online shoppers. Have an announcement we’ve missed? Leave a note in the comments or email

American Eagle

  • Type: New facility
  • Location: Hazelton, Pa.
  • Size: 600,000+ square feet
  • Budget: $80 Million
  • Hiring: 369 new positions, with an additional 600 part-time positions during peak seasons.
  • Notes: Expected to open in June 2014, the Hazelton facility will double the apparel retailer’s current distribution center (300,000 square feet) in Warrenton, Pa., which the retailer plans to …

Read More

Macy’s Expands Store-based Fulfillment

[Macy's] will be able to fulfill direct-to-consumer orders from more than 500 of its stores and is working with 50% of its suppliers to stock RFID-tagged goods for improved inventory counts. Macy’s is also making major investments in associate training to enhance service levels offered to informed, technology-wielding consumers. [Source: Retail Info Systems News]

Read More

More Retailers Shipping Online Orders from Stores

“Retailers such as Toys “R” Us, Macy’s Inc., and Nordstrom Inc. have all begun to fulfill and ship some online orders from select stores in the past three years or so, and more are expected to hop on the band wagon. While retailers three years ago were talking about how better to link their store and online inventory, ship-from-store is no longer just about getting that extra sale made in case an item is out of stock in an online distribution center. It’s just as much about getting products to customers faster to please them, making store employees more productive and lowering shipping costs, said GSI President Christopher Saridakis.” [Source: MarketWatch]

Read More

Holidays Bring Joyful and Frustrating Customer Service for Online Shoppers (Part 2 – Email Support)

Click to enlarge

Note: this is the second in a three part series looking at the customer service performance of the top 25 online retailers during the 2011 Black Friday through Cyber Monday weekend. View Part 1 (Phone Support) and Part 3 (Live Chat Support) for a complete view on how the largest online retailers cared for customers during the big shopping holiday.

According to Forrester, 55% of online shoppers use email when attempting to solve a customer service problem.  Most consumers expect relatively quick responses to email inquiries. In fact, if you’re shopping online and have a question, what’s the point of sending an email if the company doesn’t get back to you for days? The product, special deal or issue in question may no longer be relevant by the time you get a reply.

To give shoppers a better idea of which stores plan to keep you in the loop and which stores are likely to dismiss your message into the email abyss as you do your online holiday shopping, STELLAService …

Read More

Back to school? Shop at


It’s that time of year again when millions of people, young and old, are racing to prepare for the first day back to school. For many, this is an exciting time, when personal aspirations meet opportunity and anything seems possible.

However, we know that this is also an anxious and nerve-racking time, when the “to-do” list seems to command all the attention. At STELLAService, we understand that students (and parents, of course) have enough to worry about, so we wanted to help by evaluating the Internet’s biggest one-stop shops for hassle-free back-to-school shopping.

We evaluated 15 of the Internet’s leading online retailers, including Amazon, Costco, Walmart,, and We measured the retailers according to six best practices exemplifying both speed and convenience during the back-to-school crunch, including shipping, returns, and payment options.

We’re excited to share these results below: offers the most hassle-free …

Read More