A hallmark of great retail has always been great salespeople. Product videos and other forms of static video have helped bring personality and strengthen engagement for the online channel, but these static solutions are not a substitute for high quality person-to-person interaction. As a result, we continue to see a more than 10x gap in sales performance (conversion rates and average basket size) between stores and online for many retailers.
The good news is that the table is now set for the next generation of online video: live engagement. The proliferation of high bandwidth connections, along with tablets, smart phones, and desktops that are all now commonly equipped with speakers, microphone, and video camera, and finally some movement on the standards front, have all aligned to enable the full virtualization of high quality customer experience.
The lack of live customer interaction online has been a key factor in cart abandonment and low conversion rates. Businesses can solve that critical issue by bringing the brick-and-mortar experience directly to the customer through implementation of next-generation assisted selling and video engagement tools.
For example, a UK-based footwear retailer has been using live engagement via video to generate over $1.5 million in new revenue online. Key to the company’s success has been replicating the in-store sales strategies via live video to create a consistent and positive customer experience and to provide shopping tips and friendly answers to customer questions about products and store policies. In addition, an agent can help customers complete their order and thereby directly reduce cart abandonment.
The in-store experience is brought to the online world first with the greeting – just as a store associate would walk up to a customer to offer assistance, an invitation appears on a webpage. The support invitation is not overwhelming to the shopper, but is offered once they have been browsing for a predetermined period of time.
Once the online shopper accepts the invitation, an online representative asks questions about what the customer is looking for. The live-help representative will then use their screen to guide the shopper to specific product pages, similar to how an in-store associate would walk a customer to a product.
Major car companies have been using video engagement tools on their websites to help personalize the process of browsing and selecting a vehicle, just as they emphasize a personalized experience in the dealership..
With the launch of the Amazon May Day button and Google HelpOuts, there is increased awareness of the role of live engagement in strengthening online retail performance. With an interactive option, businesses can now offer an intimate, easy and efficient shopping experience to customers who want to enjoy the same type of shopping experience from their couch. It’s a win-win for both businesses and customers.