The questions customers asked most often this peak period, broken down by retail category

We’ve already looked at some of the big trends over the peak period, notably that:

  • Our customers saw an average increase in queries of 15%, but notably WISMO (Where Is My Order) queries dropped year on year
  • Quality issues saw the biggest increases in volume this year. 
  • WISMO (Where is My Order) queries peak around early December – around 10 days after Black Friday
  • Queries about returns have two peaks – around a week before Christmas, and a week after. 
  • WISMO queries are at their lowest level on Christmas Day, but that is when returns queries start to rise again (sorry Santa! Not everyone enjoyed their presents!)

But we wanted to break down the peak period by vertical and look at some of the top 10 query types that our customers faced based on the following categories: Electronics, Fashion & Apparel, Food & Beverage, Footwear, Health & Beauty, Homeware,  and Sports. 

This is based on data for all our customers across the period from November 1st 2023 to January 10th 2024, and is based on the “intent” that our AI model pulled out from customer queries. These intents are fundamental to our platform and how it operates, and are constantly being validated by our customers. 

Unsurprisingly, “Where Is My Order” comes in the number one position at every single vertical that we look at – we’re yet to meet the retailer who doesn’t have it as one of the top 3 queries! But below that top spot, there are some interesting insights. Let’s take a look.

Electronics 

One thing immediately jumps out about the electronics vertical is that it’s one of the few verticals that has “Wrong Item Delivered” as one of the top query types. This perhaps suggests that it is harder for a warehouse to be able to find and check the specific items being shipped.

On top of that, quality issues were clearly a concern, and “Replace Parts” and “Damaged Item” being issues that were fairly unique to electronics. This is understandable as electronics most likely have distinct parts that can be replaced (unlike clothes for example). “Damaged Item” differs from “Arrived Damaged”, which crops up in other categories, because much of the damage with electronics is not immediately apparent.

Top queries from customers in Electronics
1 Where Is My Order
2 Cancel Order
3 Missing Items
4 Wrong Item Delivered
5 Return Status
6 How To Return
7 Damaged Item
8 General Quality Issue
9 Product Advice
10 Replace Parts

 

Fashion & Apparel 

Fashion & Apparel is probably the most typical vertical for enquiry types. As well as the typical “Where Is My Order” taking number one spot, the other issues are quite usual.

Requests to exchange items are higher than with other verticals, as many customers look to swap one size for another. Like Footwear, there is a high number of requests for return labels and issues related to labels, as customers look for the best way to send back items. 

 

Top queries from customers in Fashion & Apparel
1 Where Is My Order
2 Return Status
3 Return Label
4 Cancel Order
5 Exchange
6 How To Return
7 Faulty Product
8 Change Delivery Address
9 Missing Items
10 Business Inquiry

 

Food & Beverage

Most strikingly, food & beverage companies are the some of the most likely to offer a subscription, as their products are consumable, so it’s no great surprise that cancelling subscriptions is high on the list. 

Similarly loyalty points are a key factor for customers in this vertical, as most subscription platforms offer incentives for repeat purchases and other actions. 

Otherwise, it is one of the few verticals to have “Product Advice” as one of its top topics, as customers try to work out which product is right for them – not a particular surprise given the range of similar items in food & beverage.

Top queries from customers in Food & Beverage 
1 Where Is My Order
2 Cancel
3 Missing Items
4 Arrived Damaged
5 Change Delivery Address
6 Cancel Order
7 Faulty Product
8 Business Inquiry
9 Product Advice
10 Add Points

 

Footwear 

Footwear faces similar questions to many other verticals, and requests for return labels and exchanging items are something faced by footwear and fashion & apparel.

One interesting request is for customers who want to unsubscribe from the company’s newsletter. It’s hard to work out what the logical reason for that is, but retailers should ensure that it is as simple as possible to unsubscribe if they want to avoid dealing with these sorts of requests.

 

Top queries from customers in Footwear
1 Where Is My Order
2 Return Status
3 How To Return
4 Quality Claim
5 Faulty Product
6 Cancel Order
7 Return Label
8 Newsletter Unsubscribe
9 Change Delivery Address
10 Exchange

 

Health & Beauty

Health & Beauty is another area that offers subscriptions, and so faces requests to cancel subscriptions. Similarly it’s a vertical that has a lot of superficially similar products where consumers need help deciphering the differences, hence Product Advice comes up a lot.

Categories of queries that are more unique to Health and Beauty brands we work with is “Order Confirmation Not Received”. Spotting a high incidence of these queries is a red flag to customers that something is wrong with their order management system and process.

Top queries from customers in Health & Beauty
1 Where Is My Order
2 Missing Items
3 Business Inquiry
4 Change Delivery Address
5 Arrived Damaged
6 Cancel Order
7 Order Confirmation Not Received
8 Product Advice
9 Cancel
10 Item Availability

 

Homeware 

Homeware covers a range of different areas, but one of them is mattresses and bedding, which explains why “Too Firm – Too Soft” is a question that these companies receive. As it’s a common process, retailers have their own way of handling these types of requests.

Beyond that, not a lot stands out when it comes to homeware, with return questions, requests to cancel orders being some of the biggest issues customers face.

How to Return is an important use case to deal with because much homeware is large and may require specialist delivery and pick up options, so it’s understandable that customers may not be clear on how to do this. 

 

Top queries from customers in Homeware
1 Where Is My Order
2 Return Status
3 Too Firm – Too Soft
4 How To Return
5 Cancel Order
6 Business Inquiry
7 Missing Items
8 Faulty Product
9 Product Advice
10 Change Delivery Address

 

Sports

Sports is another area where Product Advice matters a lot. Being able to find the right product for your specific sporting needs is important, so it’s understandable that customers want to ask the retailer about specific products.

Questions about Discounts come up a lot more for Sports than other areas, with the new year and the desire many people have to get fit, fitness newbies are more hesitant to spend big money on these items. 

 

Top queries from customers in Sports
1 Where Is My Order
2 Return Label
3 Return Status
4 Product Advice
5 Exchange
6 Cancel Order
7 Business Inquiry
8 Faulty Product
9 Discounts Questions
10 Change Delivery Address

As you can see, there are a lot of commonalities between different verticals. We speak to a lot of retailers who imagine they have a particularly unique set of customer conversations to handle, but in most cases, a combination of Where Is My Order, Return questions, and quality questions come up a lot.

If you want to check the tickets in your helpdesk and see where you sit on this spectrum, please sign up for a free automation analysis today