Humanising eCommerce: How in-store staff can enrich online conversations

Exactly what kinds of experiences do consumers want when shopping online? We know they want convenience, speed and a lack of friction, which data-driven eCommerce is perfectly placed to deliver. 

However, our latest report ‘Let’s Talk’*delves deeper, revealing what I guess many retailers have suspected all along, but have been unable to deliver at scale — nearly three-quarters of online shoppers still want the opportunity to interact with a human during their buying journey.

Live messaging capabilities

Our research shows that when it comes to conversational commerce, retailers are listening to customers’ demands, with nearly two-thirds investing in live messaging, and the most forward-looking planning to use store staff to enrich online conversations.

When it comes to investing in conversational commerce technology, fashion retailers are the most enthusiastic adopters, with 60% of retailers want to unlock employees’ sales skills and knowledge to enrich online customer experience. This was closely followed by the electricals segment at 54%. 

Exactly half (50%) of the retailers we spoke to believe that human interaction is the key to physical retail’s success, and more than two-thirds are convinced that only by developing superior customer experience can they effectively compete against online pureplays, differentiate themselves and deliver ‘what Amazon can’t’. 

Responding to consumers’ emotional needs

These findings show that retailers are waking up to the fact that even when they’re tapping on a smartphone, consumers are still social and emotional animals, but the biggest reason is that human product experts are still the best at sharing important insights with the minimum of fuss.

The challenge for retailers is how to achieve the right level of human interaction online, at scale, while remaining profitable. The size of the challenge becomes even bigger when you consider current retailer capabilities. 

Our research reveals the most common online customer service channel is still email, which is offered by 92% of retailers, followed by conventional telephone call centres, offered by 88%. 

Replicating human interaction online

Our research shows forward-thinking retailers are actively pursuing ways to replicate human interaction online. Retail leaders have told us that now it is time to break down the boundaries between sales channels and liberate in-store product experts, so they are free to contribute, adding real value to sales conversations. 

This is especially important considering retail headcount represents the biggest overhead in the sector, so as challenging trading conditions continue to buffet the high street, retailers need to achieve a greater ROI if they are to succeed. 

Our research shows that retailers are actively exploring better ways to showcase their people’s expertise online, so that it achieves maximum impact, projects superior brand values, elevates the brand to new heights and, of course, achieves more sales.

To find out more about the role of the store associate in the age of conversational commerce, download our new report.

  • * Let’s Talk: A blueprint for the new digital store associate in the age of conversational commerce  – iAdvize B2B Study – 2019
Stuart Gordon

UK Country Manager at iAdvize

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