What do you think of live chat for eCommerce? Dubious of the canned responses, or a really convenient way to get the answers you need? Speak to enough people and you’ll find someone who loves using it, and someone who would never dream of trying it. It may be an opinion-divider, but that little widget has more power than you might think.

Despite the mixed-feelings that people have on it, stats show that live chat for eCommerce (done right) actually results in more sales, high order values, and more loyalty from customers.

Live chat for eCommerce enables website visitors to gain access to customer support before they are a customer, and get personal sales advice in a way otherwise not possible online.

It is a tool to enable the customer experience to start right at the start of the buyer journey – as soon as the visitor hits the site.

And shoppers love it too and it’s starting to make an impact on businesses’ bottom lines, as statistics on live chat for eCommerce reveal that 38% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support.

Live Chat for eCommerce Likely to Buy

38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support

In fact, 92% of live chat engagement occurs prior to the user reaching the cart. This shows that shoppers want to engage with a company when considering a purchase.

So why is live chat so effective at encouraging purchases and repeat custom? There are surprisingly a lot of factors to this, but I’ve narrowed it down to four core things. Read on to find out what they are.

1. Shoppers need the human touch when they’re buying online

For pure eCommerce companies, live chat is the only opportunity for customers to interact with the company.

Even with companies that have stores in the real world and online, consumers see businesses that offer live chat for eCommerce as more approachable, helpful, and customer-centric.

It’s no secret that online shopping is on the rise, and is in fact starting to overtake brick-and-mortar stores in sales of certain items, particularly household essentials.

However, the convenience of online shopping often comes with the risk of not being able to physically interact with the item or sales people during the decision making and purchasing stages of the buyer journey.

This has given rise to the practice of showrooming, where customers visit a store to research an item they are interested in by asking questions of the sales staff, but go away and buy online where it’s often cheaper.

Live chat goes a long way to recreate the research experience for customers and make it even more convenient.

The buyer doesn’t need to take time from home or work to go to the store, or make a potentially expensive and time consuming phone call to find the answers they need before they commit to purchase.

Some 83% of shoppers report needing help at some point during their buying process, which provides a ripe opportunity for businesses to provide a good experience to meet their needs before they commit to buy.

And with 41% of consumers saying they prefer live chat over other support channels, and live chat for eCommerce having been shown to help reduce shopping cart abandonment, it makes sense for online stores to offer this channel.

Setting up a modern live chat experience is simpler than ever. Lemonstand’s eCommerce platform users can offer their customers the convenience of modern live chat.  Simply integrate your LemonStand store with Kayako Messenger and you’ll be offering your customers a more helpful shopping experience in no time.

2. Live chat for eCommerce reassures higher value online purchasers

For shoppers buying online, taking the plunge to make a purchase requires trust in the site and the company they are purchasing from. Buying something is a commitment, and even more so when it’s a high value purchase.

Although trust has grown significantly in recent years, thanks to the efforts of online stores to remain secure and reliable, there’s room for reassurance online as buyers risk the item not being as they expect.

And with 55% of shoppers likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question, it pays for eCommerce businesses to provide customers with a way of getting these answers effortlessly.

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There is more of a perceived risk associated with parting with money online where you have to wait and see if the product turns up in a few days, versus handing money over to a “real” person in a “real” store for a “real” item to take home there and then.

Live chat for eCommerce provides customers with a way to get reassurance on the item they’re considering, and the human interaction helps create a sense of trust with the company they’re doing business with.

63% of people who spend between $250-500 a month online are the most likely to both buy from and be loyal to companies that offer live chat.

 

That means they’re happy to spend more too! High spending online shoppers are most likely to buy from companies that offer live chat, and are more likely to be loyal to them once they’ve had a good buying experience.

Businesses can use this to their advantage, as illustrated by an online furniture retailer who boosted online sales by an additional $50,000 per month by introducing live chat. Enabling buyers to ask questions and get answers quickly on high value purchases helps them make a decision more quickly and provides the reassurance they need to click buy.

 

3. The strongest online buying force loves live chat

The largest chunk of the buying power online is held by Millennials and their younger counterparts Generation Z, or GenZ. Combined, these young shoppers are a huge force in ecommerce and they wield massive influence.

Millennials’ purchasing power is now estimated at $600 billion per year in the United States alone, while American GenZs (those born after 2000) already hold a purchasing power of $44 billion annually, with 2 in 3 teens regularly making purchases online.

Live chat is a channel that younger people are more comfortable with, and are much more likely to use it than older shoppers. A study found that a fifth of Millennials and GenZs claim they have used live chat many times, compared to people over 55, half of whom say they have never used live chat.

Younger shoppers are used to communicating via text and messenger, so live chat is familiar to them. They are also savvy shoppers and demand what Accenture describes as “better, faster, more memorable service”, which above all means effortlessness. Reaching young shoppers where they are using live chat is a highly effective way to engage them.

4. Great customer experience makes loyal customers, especially online

It may seem obvious but it’s true – and it applies just as much to ecommerce as to any other business. Customers who have a great experience with a company will be much more likely to become a repeat purchaser and a loyal brand advocate.

Boosting loyalty should be a priority for all businesses. Studies show that just a 5% increase in customer retention can result in up to 95% increase in profits. This is driven by repeat custom, but also through word of mouth recommendations leading to new sales.

This is why providing great live chat is so important. We’ve seen that live chat is what customers want and why. And the outcomes are that they are willing to spend more. In fact, 51% of consumers are more likely to stay with or buy again from a company if they offer live chat support.

Live chat beats telephone, email and social media as the preferred support channel for consumers shopping online.

41% of consumers prefer live chat support compared to other channels, exactly because it provides this high quality, effortless service that they desire, in context and in a format they are comfortable with.

The key here is making sure that the live chat experience is a positive one for the buyer. Forrester says that “customer support is an opportunity to help build stronger relationships with your customers to garner their long-term loyalty.”

And it works. A study by CEB found that the less effort for customers to get support also correlated with an improvement in loyalty.

Takeaway

Live chat is key to delivering an effortless ecommerce customer experience. Again and again, it’s shown that shoppers are more likely to complete their purchase, spend more, and return as a repeat shopper due to a positive live chat experience.

In order to benefit and gain maximum return, it’s crucial that ecommerce businesses take live chat seriously as a pre-sales tool as well as a customer support channel, to deliver exceptional experiences and produce significant returns.

Customers are beginning to expect businesses to provide live chat: it’s no longer a nice to have, it’s an essential for many customers, and those ecommerce stores that don’t offer live chat are likely to lose business over stores that do.