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May I Help You? Live Chat Aids E-Commerce Development

Much of the emphasis in e-commerce development strategies is focused on attracting visitors to the e-commerce Web site. Obviously, thats a necessary first step, but for retailers, its still far from the ultimate goal. Getting visitors to complete a purchase, and getting them to come back to the site for more, may require some special elements of e-commerce site design. Adding live chat may be one of those elements.

Visitors to an e-commerce Web site are no different from most people who walk into a brick-and-mortar shop. They want to be left alone to browse in peace--until they need help with something. At that critical point, they expect help to be readily accessible.

In person, this can be accomplished with watchful sales personnel, maintaining a discreet distance from browsing customers but ready to move in if there is a question or request. Online, much faster and requiring less effort from the consumer, adding live chat to the e-commerce Web sites design is a great way to replicate this kind of attention.

Heavy E-Commerce Shoppers Like Live Chat

One reason to employ a live chat feature is that heavy Internet shoppers find it useful. A recent survey found that 40 percent of people who use live chat are likely to buy something on the Internet at least once a week, with 12 percent of these shoppers describing themselves as people who buy online "several times a week." In contrast, only 22 percent of people who dont use live chat are likely to buy at least once a week.

There is a chicken/egg characteristic to these numbers. Perhaps the people who are most comfortable shopping online are most likely to use advanced features like live chat. Or, perhaps people are more likely to make the final decision to buy with a little prompting and assistance from live chat. Either way, it is a feature worth considering in e-commerce Web site design.

Happy Holidays for E-Commerce Development

This appreciation of live chat is especially characteristic of the highly-coveted holiday shopping crowd. 44 percent of people who have used live chat are likely to do most of their holiday shopping online. Only 24 percent of those who dont chat online do most of their holiday shopping via the Internet.

A good holiday season can make or break a retailers year. It appears that live chat can help capture that crucial holiday business.

The Right Profile for Live Chat

So is live chat an appropriate e-commerce site design element for all retailers? It appears that live chat works especially well under certain conditions.

There are a number of situations in which most buyers still prefer a traditional telephone conversation. These include situations where a big-ticket purchase is involved, where there is a need to share sensitive information, or where there is some kind of problem that needs to be resolved.

On the other hand, people tend to prefer live chat when the purchase or request is pretty routine and straightforward. These situations include purchases under $100, inquiries about order status, or simple requests for information.

In other words, when the shoppers needs are simple, they dont want to complicate things with a telephone conversation. Given the extent to which people who prefer live chat reward retailers with higher sales, it seems honoring this preference is a logical step.



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