Online Chat a Useful Retail Tool, According to New Survey

87656151A new survey conducted by e-commerce technology provider Bold Software has provided some interesting points to ponder regarding the usefulness of online chat to e-tailers. As part of the findings, 82% of respondents indicated that a live chat session had a positive effect their opinion of that merchant. Additionally, a full 68% said they were more likely to purchase from that retailer again in the future.

Bold Software surveyed more than 1,000 American Internet shoppers last January. The company release the following five conclusions as part of its findings:

1. There is a relationship between live chat and certain demographic characteristics.
Shoppers who have taken part in an online chat with a retailer tend to have higher household incomes, ages above 30, and are also generally college-educated.

2. There is a widening gap in behavior and attitude between those that who chat and those who don’t.
Customers who have chatted are more likely to state that chat influences them to buy, and find chat more efficient than e-mail or phone.

3. Live chat is an effective for both sales and service.
Live chat is effective for both new and existing customers. There was a 7 percent jump in customers using the technology pre-sale, as opposed to last year. More than 75 percent of respondents stated live chat positively affected their impression of the retailer.

4. Fear of inviting visitors to chat is unwarranted.
Retailers have been known to be reluctant to invite visitors to chat–the fear being that this will drive them away. However, it seems that the majority of customers are actually accepting of the practice, especially frequent shoppers and those who make higher priced purchases.

5. Some kinds of online retailers will find live chat more effective than others.
The survey showed live chat is more effective within certain specific retail sectors when the data is used to build subgroups of respondents indicating they recently shopped at particular kinds of retail sites.