Digital commerce and mobile purchases are steadily on the rise. A U.S. government report shows that online sales are in their 22nd month straight of gains. Both traditional and online retailers must pivot to this trend by developing digital sales and marketing strategies that replicate the advantages of the brick & mortar retail experience. While omnichannel communication and free shipping are critical to online retail, live chat services top the list for bridging the e-commerce / traditional retail divide.
Why Consumers Buy In Person
A 2017 report released by PwC/SAP shows that 41% of global consumers shop in-store at least once a week. With so many online retailers offering free shipping and returns, what is it about the physical retail experiences that consumers appreciate? A recent consumer report by Retail Dive identifies four aspects of in-store retail that outweigh the convenience of online retail. 62% of consumers report shopping in retail stores because they want to interact with items before purchasing them, 49% of consumers want to take home items immediately, and 20% report that they find it easier to return items that are purchased in-store. Finally, 18% of consumers report enjoying the in-store retail experience.
Live chat services can go a long way in replicating the in-store shopping perks reported by consumers. While it isn’t possible to interact with an item, customers can ask specific questions to live chat agents who are equipped with information about the specific product build as well as consumer reviews of the item. While men prefer the immediate gratification aspect of in-store purchases more than women, a proactive live chat service approach can reach out to a shopper with an abandoned cart and offer them they chance to ask questions or a promotion. While many online retailers have responded to the issue of easier returns by offering free return shipping, it’s the last point of the survey that live chat services can particularly buffer: the enjoyment of the retail experience, the cornerstone of which is the presence of a retail assistant. A trained live chat agent equipped with machine learning insights can employ language to make a consumer comfortable, happy, and excited about their purchasing decision.
Interaction With A Store Associate Drives Sales
E-commerce may save consumers time and money, but without the help of a sales associate, can make the decision to buy a burden to the consumer. Salesfloor reports 87% of shoppers say their in-store purchasing decision is influenced by a sales associate. In contrast, 58% of shoppers report that customer service is lacking online. It’s a clear advantage to offer live chat services available to online consumers 87% of consumers report that they are more likely to buy an item recommended by a sales associate, while 77% report that they’re more likely to make a purchase from a sales associate that has helped them before.
These metrics bring to light an important point: consumers care about the personal dimension of a purchasing decision. When we think about e-commerce we tend to think in global, non-place specific terms. In reality, a physical dimension of e-commerce exists. Live chat service agents work in a region near or far from the consumer’s region, and products are shipped from warehouses a certain distance from the consumer’s doorstep. Many brick & mortar stores have a strong e-commerce presence, which means consumers may switch between the two depending on a whole host of factors. E-commerce brands can implement a live chat services strategy that takes the interpersonal element of retail into account. Brands can involve local sales agents in regional marketing and sales campaigns to assist with online consumers. Additionally, brands can train live chat agents to pick up on regionally specific cues or allow customers to speak to an agent in their region by providing local live chat services to local online shoppers.
To effectively pivot, online retail needs to personalize the consumer experience by combining live chat services, predictive recommendations, and proactive live chat agents. Live chat agents can build rapport with customers to effectively improve the e-commerce experience, foster brand loyalty, and maximize conversions.
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