Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Live Chat Boosts Online Sales

As reported by CNBC, about 28 percent of retailers currently provide services where customers can click a link on the Web site to start a "live chat" session, a Forrester Research survey said. But by the end of the year, 26.5 percent more retailers will add "click-to-chat" capabilities on their Web sites, according to the research firm.

Although the technology has existed for nearly a decade, retailers have been slow to add it to their sites because of several hurdles. "It's been slow to get adoption," said Sucharita Mulpuru, retail analyst at Forrester, because “It’s an expense. It’s not just ‘plug-in a button.’ It requires human resources and management and making sure the call center is trained. Frankly, it’s not a standard. It’s nice-to-have, but it’s not a must-have.”

Also, when customers make a high-priced purchase or when product information gets complicated, 67 percent of consumers prefer "click to call" compared to 33 percent that prefer "click to chat."

However, Nordstrom, which offers live chat from specialists in beauty and cosmetics, saw its online and catalog sales rise almost 35%. “If you want to talk to someone specifically on beauty and cosmetics, we have tabs so you can get there directly,” said Colin Johnson, a spokesperson for Nordstrom. “We found that customers have responded (favorably) to having those additional specialist chat buttons on the Web sites.” While the significant growth in sales can't be attributed solely to online chat, it certainly didn't hurt, either!

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