Click-to-Chat Gains Steam at Retail

Click-to-Chat Gains Steam at Retail


It appears as though more and more retailers are recognizing the importance of being able to answer their online customer’s questions immediately and are turning to technologies, such as “click to chat” and “click to call back,” to meet shoppers’ immediate needs.

This browse, click, chat philosophy is a good one as many online consumers still want the connection with a store employee before making an online purchase. One technology being used is called “click to chat,” which lets online customers ask sales clerks questions in real time, using instant messaging. Another service gaining steam is “click to call back,” in which customers tap on an icon that prompts them for their telephone number so a company representative can call them right back.

With the numbers attached to online spending going through the roof – Forrester Research estimates $211.4 billion on retail for 2006 – it behooves retailers to make sure the experience is a smooth one. Several industry reports indicate online consumers have little patience for technology problems or delays getting product information. When they encounter them, they quickly move on to the next site.

Yahoo and eBay recently announced they are jointly developing “click to call’’ advertising that would allow customers to select a link in a merchant’s ad and immediately be able to text message or speak with someone from the company.

Other companies getting in on the online retail chat world are Virginia-based Estara and New York-based LivePerson who offer a service that acts pre-emptively, looking over customers’ shoulders as they shop and dispatching the icon invitation if they seem confused or on the verge of making a purchase. There are a ton of others as well.

Well, as the song goes, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Apparently, retail Web sites who provide people with this type of info will be pretty lucky too.