The holiday shopping season is upon us, and it could be make-or-break for many retailers after a challenging year. This year, 71 percent of U.S. adults will purchase more than half of their holiday gifts online. Online retail will be more important than ever for the 2020 holiday season, as many consumers hesitate to leave the comfort of their homes and brick-and-mortar stores remain shuttered.
How can retailers take advantage of the coming onslaught of online holiday shoppers to acquire new customers, build loyalty and increase sales? The key to capturing this market is to provide an online experience that matches or exceeds the in-person experience. Live engagement and real-time collaboration technologies can help a retailer provide just that — the tailored, responsive online shopping experience that customers experience in-store. Here are a few tips on how to use specific technologies to acquire new customers, build long-term customer loyalty, and increase sales:
- Train chatbots to greet consumers and complete transactions. Nearly 81 percent of shoppers start a purchase decision with online research. Seize the opportunity to grab their attention with artificial intelligence-enabled chatbots. These powerful tools can greet online visitors and "nudge" them to engage and meet their needs immediately, whether it’s answering a common FAQ, providing product specs, or seamlessly connecting them to a live service representative for detailed assistance or to complete a complex transaction.
- Deliver a personalized experience with real-time collaboration. Take advantage of visual engagement tools that allow service and sales agents to co-browse with customers to specific areas on the website where product options or answers to questions are available. Use video chat to provide live product demos. Enable consumers to invite friends or family into the conversation via video chat to get their immediate feedback and advice. Live, individualized assistance by a real human can increase unassisted conversion by as much as five times, and up to 10 times when video chat is used.
- Showcase the brand with exclusive, online events. Amp up video chat to deliver live, engaging demonstrations to a one-to-many audience — small or large group, scheduled or not, paid or free. Give customers a front row seat and 360-degree view, in high definition, of everything from luxury watches to makeup application to power tools. This powerful technology provides a truly immersive experience, which helps retailers be as dynamic online as they are at a gathering in a brick-and-mortar location.
- Walk shoppers to the register. Online cart abandonment averages 75 percent and as much as 85 percent for consumers shopping via mobile phones, which will be the device of choice for many shoppers this holiday season. Online retailers need to identify strategies to capture more of those sales and decrease abandonment. AI-powered chatbots can qualify customers based on their behavior and move the most valuable to a live sales agent. Armed with a history of the chatbot conversation, and information from a CRM system, sales agents are equipped with the right knowledge to close a purchase and deliver a great customer experience. Furthermore, co-form fill technologies allow service agents to help customers quickly and accurately complete financing or store credit forms that can help complete a sale.
A multi-experience platform that combines intelligent automated and live engagement tools can help retailers attract new customers and expand existing relationships by bringing the in-person experience online. This holiday season will see record-breaking online traffic. Proven technologies that facilitate an online customer experience that measures up to that great in-store experience will give retailers a true competitive advantage now and going forward.
Priya Iyer is board chair and CEO of Vee24, an AI-enabled SaaS platform for the best live customer engagements.
With over 25 years of diverse international experience in nearly every facet of software, Priya is a proven, high-growth entrepreneurial CEO with a leadership philosophy centered on engaging clients and employees to build industry leading SaaS software platforms and delivering exceptional customer and stakeholder value to achieve sustainable competitive differentiation.