eDesk is smart customer support software that allows online retailers to unlock eCommerce growth. We have native integrations with over 35 channels – all the major marketplaces, web platforms, social networks and email providers such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Facebook and GMail, enabling customers to centralise and handle customer enquiries and order details from a single place. We also have tools to optimise pricing and improve customer review scores.
We offer a faster, more efficient process than reviewing customer queries in each separate marketplace, web platform or social network inbox, and combine order data and AI-powered automations to help customer service teams respond at speed, driving greater productivity, collaboration and smarter decisions. We’re a global team, headquartered in Dublin and also have offices in London, New York, Cork and Derry.
Your previous roles have been in tech and tourism, working for the likes of Microsoft, eBay and Big Bus Tours. What was it about ecommerce that attracted you to eDesk?
If you’re fortunate, you’ll have various moments in your career when you see a unique opportunity to have an impact on the world that you need to seize – I saw that with eDesk. Having worked in technology throughout my career, I’ve seen its advancements first hand. My time at eBay was particularly useful to witness the growth of eCommerce and how shopping habits have evolved, while my work with Big Bus Tours provided an opportunity to drive significant digital transformation and bring a category leader into the 21st century.
eCommerce has reached a tipping point, with half the world now buying online. It has changed how we live and shop, and is wonderfully easy most of the time. Its Achilles heel however is when something’s not right – a delivery is late, the product doesn’t meet expectations or you need to return an item – which is where great service can make or break some online retail businesses. And it’s much more prevalent than most people imagine – customers have questions on every one in six purchases.
The ability to leave and research online reviews gives consumers great power, making every transaction matter. With this heightened level of transparency your reputation is everything, making five-star customer service essential. Much of the success of the winners and losers in online retail will be defined by the quality of customer service they give.
I think the online shopping space lacked targeted support in line with the evolution of the market so the opportunity at eDesk, to help eCommerce sellers with their accountability and develop more understanding of their customers’ power, was really compelling to me.
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The (online) shopping space has undergone significant change in the past 18 months. How did eDesk evolve and which trends have stood out to you as ones to watch?
Recognising the surge in demand sellers were experiencing, we supercharged our support for customers with AI advancements. It was a matter of expediting the company product roadmap, which provided businesses with the means to operate with insight-based transaction intelligence at a crucial time.
In terms of trends, we’ve seen consumer-facing brands are less reliant on traditional channels – for example, Adidas’s ‘Own The Game’ strategy that is seeking for 50% of sales to be achieved through direct-to-consumer channels by 2025. They want to develop customer relationships independently, which requires a laser focus on customer experience. In addition to their own sites, the big growth has been in marketplaces. These companies used to be wary of some of the bigger marketplaces, but the opportunity to reach more customers cost-effectively means that everyone is now looking at multi-channel digital sales strategies to also sell across marketplaces and social networks. But this channel fragmentation means you need the right tools to remain on top of your customer service.
To stay abreast of the growth of eCommerce during the pandemic, we surveyed 2,000 UK and US online shoppers. The research revealed
that failing to meet customer satisfaction, bad attitudes and poor timing were the main triggers for bad feedback, so brands need to maintain quick and courteous responses, paired with strong problem resolution skills, to secure good reviews. It will be interesting to see how quickly brands understand this and how they’ll manage the transition.
Looking ahead, what are the challenges and opportunities to overcome in the eCommerce space, and what can we expect to see from eDesk?
Remember the Suez Canal saga? The blockage was predicted to have a fulfillment knock-on effect, but increased buyer demand has also been a hurdle. Halfords is just one example of a retailer that’s experienced sales growth, only to result in strained resources, with supply issues looming amidst overseas shipping delays. Elsewhere, cardboard supplier DS Smith recently flagged a packaging shortage due to decreased recycling during lockdowns.
While issues that arise can’t always be predicted, staying on the right side of customers can be done with communication. Companies are aware that trouble may be afoot ahead of their customers so it’s far better to shine a light on an issue than leave them in the dark. Our survey revealed 97% of UK online shoppers want sellers to be proactive with correspondence, which presents an opportunity, particularly for direct-to-consumer, to diffuse customer dissatisfaction and alleviate concerns. However, marketplace rules, especially for Amazon, are a little more rigid so it’s advisable to check them first.
eCommerce is still in its relative infancy, accounting for a minority of the global retail market. But it’s changing fast and we’re here to help retailers look after their customers and unlock more growth.