As I described in my previous article, consumers are demonstrating preference for an online shopping experience that is similar to what they experience in the brick and mortar world. Meeting (if not exceeding) these rising expectations will be critical as we look toward the holiday season. According to Deloitte's annual forecast, retailers should expect to see a 13.5 to 14 percent increase in non-store (online and mail order channels) sales during the 2014 holiday season. Retailers looking to achieve these growth rates will need to ensure they are delivering more personal experiences across all digital touchpoints that meet shoppers' evolving expectations.
One way to do this is by enabling face-to-face assistance between a consumer and an online retail sales associate the same way you would in a physical setting. While text chat on ecommerce sites has been around for a while, live video assistance - where consumers can speak face to face with a live representative - is still relatively new, but already well-proven to be more effective than text-based chat sessions. Live video assistance adds an important tailored effect to online shopping. By speaking to a sales associate, shoppers are able to not only ask questions, see products and have a real conversation, but also to get hands-on help in finding product and completing an order. As a result, customers feel confident in their purchasing decision and are more likely to make a purchase from their computer or mobile device.
With the recent launch of Amazon Mayday (see image), a live video assistance feature on the Kindle Fire, live video is becoming a priority for many brands and retailers wishing to emulate this personal experience on their own sites.
One example of a retailer that has seen success in replicating the in-store experience online through the use of live video help is Mattress Firm, one of the largest mattress retailers in the U.S. Traditionally an in-store purchase, mattresses are a very personal decision, making buying one online difficult since the consumer can't physically see, touch, experience and compare the many options. But, when a consumer is able to connect via live video with an educated Mattress Firm sales representative who can answer all of their questions (see image), like those around comfort and firmness in addition to warranty and shipping, the challenge is alleviated. In addition, the representative can co-browse the online store with the consumer, guiding them through the sale and showing them products for a seamless experience from beginning to end. Mattress Firm has experienced conversion rates up to 10 times higher than their ecommerce averages since implementing live video assistance on their site.
In a similar fashion, shopping for new furniture can be a timely process. Consumers often browse online, but ultimately wind up at their nearest brick and mortar location for person-to-person assistance and to check out fabrics. DFS, one of the UK's largest sofa retailers, has successfully replicated its personalized in-store customer experience across all channels, including mobile, to facilitate online purchases. Customers can use their mobile devices to communicate live with DFS sales associates via video, voice and text, where they are shown a variety of sofa options and receive answers and advice, ensuring the best possible experience while shopping online.
When it comes to ecommerce, consumers truly benefit from a more personal shopping experience that emulates that of a traditional store. And, for those retailers that would like to improve online and mobile conversion rates this holiday season, live video assistance is a proven way to increase sales while providing superior customer experience. Whether shoppers are in the market for a mattress, furniture, jewelry, or clothing, face-to-face interactions will deliver better sales results because they meet the expectations of consumers who desire full service wherever and whenever they shop.
James Keller is the CEO at Vee24, the world's leader in video engagement solutions for eBusiness. Prior to Vee24, Keller was the CMO of Shoebuy.com.
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