2liveE-commerce is booming like never before as its predicted total turnover of $1.2 trillion revenue worldwide this year proves, representing an increase of 17%. The growth is mainly led by Asia Pacific with supposedly $388.8 billion in online sales this year, up nearly a quarter from 2012, according to eMarketer. In fact, the region is expected to become the largest ecommerce market in the world by 2014.`

With the increasing agglomeration of online retailers, dealers are increasingly trying to differentiate themselves from one another. If in the early years the competitive advantage of the online retailer was mainly the price, today’s Internet users especially reward good service.

In order to meet the service needs of their customers, most online retailers so far mostly made use of the traditional channels such as telephone or email - to the detriment of new channels such as live chat that are more up to the expectations of Internet users. Colossal marketing budgets are usually invested for customer acquisition without being aware that this is actually a bottomless pit. In fact, many online retailers are completely focused on generating traffic, but often leave the customer abandoned, without worrying about what happens when they are on the site.

Increase conversion rates with good advice

Online stores have a conversion rate of around 3%, which proves that the majority of visitors leave the online shop without making a purchase. It is clear that even though generating traffic remains an important topic, the online retailer must focus more on the visitors who are already on their Website – in fact by listening to their questions.

According to a Forrester study, the purchase dropout rate during the checkout process is as high as 36 %. Compared to that, 80 % of those visitors who have dropped their shopping chart claim they would have completed their order with the direct assistance of a consultant.

So, don’t all these figures clearly show that we are far from a "100% self-service" model? So, why not pushing the human interaction back into the limelight and give the visitor the opportunity to ask a counselor for help? A human being who accompanies and advises them during their purchases to avoid shopping chart abandonment?

Live chats on the rise in Asia

In the American market the chat is quite obviously already well-established, as Diane Clarkson of Forrester Research describes: “Chat has demonstrated its ability to enhance customer satisfaction, drive sales, deflect contact center calls, and improve operational efficiency.”

In Asia, however, considerations regarding online customer service via chat still seem to be in its infancy. The reasons are for sure numerous uncertainties and reservations that always go hand in hand with the emergence of a new technology. Although an excellent customer service represents an important competitive advantage – usually reflected in a variety of channels – chat is here still just catching on.

The chat allows a visitor to get personalized advice in real time, which explains why the live chat is more and more on the rise in Europe as well. In France, for example, a study of Interactive Intelligence revealed that click-to-chat,  with 21% in usage, has been the channel that got most investment in 2013 and 64% of online customer feel that chats are useful to very useful.

Having a look at the service expectations pays off

This channel really deserves online retailers’ attention as it meets the service expectations of online shoppers and provides a powerful tool to increase sales revenue. Visitors counselled by chat, subsequently make a purchase in 15-20% of the cases, shop up to 30% more than the average, and are in around 80% of the cases either satisfied or very satisfied.

And if you take a look at the three most mentioned criteria (response time, cost and simplicity) to assess the quality of customer service, it is clear that the chat performs better than other service channels, besides improving customer satisfaction and loyalty in the long term. Quantitative success, such as increase in sales and conversion optimization, comes naturally that way, because satisfied and well-advised customers simply buy more.

By Daniela La Marca