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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : September 10, 2012

Over half of U.S. shoppers use live chat prior to purchase

A recent report from Boldchat reveals the rise in use of live chat on ecommerce websites and how many turn to live chat to help make their purchase decision.

by Helen Leggatt

boldchat live chat report 2012.pngBoldchat's recent report "Live Chat Effectiveness 2012" shows healthy growth in live chat use in both the US and the UK. Almost two-thirds (65.5%) of U.S. online shoppers have used live chat this year, up from 50.4% in 2009. In the UK the number using live chat has reached 53% this year, up from 41% in 2011.

At the current rate of growth Boldchat believes three-quarters of online shoppers will use live chat by 2013.

What is it about a live chat option that makes it a preferred channel? According to Boldchat's research it's because the channel is efficient and fast.

79% prefer live chat because questions are answered immediately;
51% prefer live chat because they can multi-task;
46% prefer it because it's the most efficient communication method;
38% say once they used live chat they realized how well it worked;
29% say they get better information than if they had emailed;
22% don't like talking on the phone;
29% like live chat because they are in control of the conversation;
21% like live chat because they can use it at work;
15% say they get better information via live chat than if they had telephoned.

When Boldchat asked respondents what they had last used live chat for the majority (52%) said to inquire about a product or service before they made a purchase followed by:

21% - to inquire about a purchase already made;
18% - to inquire about customer service policies;
7% - to get assistance during checkout;
2% - to get help comparing, and deciding between, two or more products.

Of those surveyed who had never used chat the main reason was because they preferred another channel - 39% preferred email / 27% preferred telephone. However, 31% said the reason they hadn't used live chat is simply that the online stores they shop at don't offer the service.

"These insights suggest, at minimal, testing chat but bearing in mind that this shopper is discerning and discriminates between those with exemplary execution and others where experiences are imperfect," says Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group. "Retailers must get ready as these chat experiences are mission critical for attracting this desirable customer segment."

Tags: communication channels, consumer insight, customer service, e-commerce, live chat, online help, online shopping

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