Engaging a customer to visit your online store is one thing; converting them to purchase is another. Reports show that Australians have a high tendency to abandon online shopping carts.
The SAP Consumer Propensity study found that, while 57 percent of the customers discard their carts sometimes or all the time, 60 percent of the Australian consumers abandon carts due to shipping costs. Considering a staggering number of online shopping carts are abandoned before purchase, increasing sales conversion has become the holy grail for online retailers.
An omnichannel world allows retailers to capture their customer’s attention and promote their brand through many highly targeted touchpoints: email, SMS, social, online and traditional ads. Yet, with so much communication, the challenge remains: how can you hold their attention, meet their needs and convert engagement to a sale?
Converting sales in an age of distraction and ‘need it yesterday’ demand
By their very nature, digital consumers are tricky to convert. Firstly, they’re often distracted. Online retailers are constantly competing for attention with a multitude of digital and physical distractions. Today’s consumers are multitaskers, they are either half browsing/half absorbed, shopping online while working or busy with other pressing tasks.
Secondly, customers are time-poor. Unlike customers visiting a physical store, online customers look for a fast and efficient purchase. Many consumers indeed lack patience. No one with a quick question prefers to wait for an email reply or pick the phone and risk a lengthy wait on hold for an answer. If it takes too long or they can’t find an answer instantly they are quick to abort their search.
It’s clear that with all the benefits of an online store, there is one significant downside – the absence of a sales assistant. A friendly, knowledgeable assistant can help narrow the search, steer a customer towards the right product and answer their questions such as sizing, shipping times, exchange and returns. This is where live chat makes a real difference to the consumer’s sales experience. Live chat is a new bridge that connects the customer to your brand.
Live chat re-opens the door to personal service online
Just like a good sales assistant, live chat improves conversion, increases average order value, nurtures customer loyalty and improves the overall customer experience. Back in the days, having a personal shopper used to be a luxury few could afford. But now, offering instant messaging via live chat tailors the experience for all. After all, we used to think customers wanted choice – the more options, the better. But the reality is, with so much choice available and so little time, all customers want is for someone to narrow down their options.
Retailers are increasingly embracing live chat as a concept and service offering, even for small purchases. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2017 Omnichannel Retail Index, live online chat services have been one of the fastest increasing areas of omnichannel adoption among retailers, with at least 54 percent of retailers offering it on their websites.
Customers are neither wary of it nor surprised by a chat feature when they visit an online store. They expect it. So much so, customers are reluctant to place an order if they have a concern that no one can address there and then. A study by Zendesk found 92 percent of customers feel satisfied when they use the live chat feature.
Live chat provides customers with access to answers within seconds – the closest thing to a brick-and-mortar experience. From the retailer’s perspective, live chat increases the sales value per customer – adding the “Would you like fries with that?” factor. A research by Forrester shows that live chat usage corresponded with a 10 percent average increase in cart vale.
The customer understands engaging in live chat is optional. It’s a winning combination of low social pressure on the customer end with the expectation of quick answers and resolutions. There’s no worry over adoption, as it’s as familiar to customers as texting is. Plus, people also understand it’s private and any sensitive data they share in the chat is secure.
Our vision and road map for the new decade will see us using live chat capabilities to convert conversation data collected today into valuable customer profile. Combined with AI assets, this data can be further used for segmentation and automation purposes in the future. Customer experience will become even more personalised and seamless. The interactions and conversations across every channel – from live chat, email, social media, online – will be captured and synced, providing brands with the most complete understanding of the customer’s needs.
Dismissing the live chat advantage will do nothing to improve sales conversion and loyalty. In an age of information overload and “give it to me now!” expectations, live chat meets the needs of the customer at the crucial point of sale, creating a smooth, positive and memorable customer experience worth coming back for.
Tink Taylor is the President and Founder of dotdigital.
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