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Improving omnichannel conversion from in-store

With the growth rate of online shopping starting to slow as pandemic restrictions are eased and life returns to normal, conversion is becoming increasingly more important for retailers. And cart abandonment is a serious problem. It’s not easy to attract consumers, and every abandoned cart represents lost revenue. To make matters worse, cart abandonment can actually cost retailers through the added expenses of retargeting and remarketing.

In light of data that shows over half of US online shoppers abandon their carts if they can’t get answers to their questions quickly enough. To mitigate this problem, forward-thinking retailers are using technology to connect online shoppers with in-store associates who can provide all the information they need in real time using video chat and instant messaging.

Why do shoppers abandon their carts?

Cart abandonment is not a new problem. Ever since retailers started selling online, consumers have been placing items in shopping carts, then opting not to complete their purchases. According to this recent survey by Baymard Institute, these are the top reasons why consumers abandon their carts:

  • Extra costs (shipping, taxes, fees) were too high – 49%
  • Unwilling to create an account – 24%
  • Lengthy delivery times – 19%
  • Checkout process was too long or too complicated – 18%

Data collected by ecommerce company Shopify also reveals that when it comes to online shopping, even devices play a role: cart abandonment is highest among consumers using their mobile devices (86%), followed by consumers shopping on their tablets (81%), and on desktop computers (70%).

Solving cart abandonment problems

Retailers have taken steps to resolve many of these issues. Free shipping is widely available, and where it isn’t, retailers are open about the costs of shipping. Retailers have also embraced easier ways to pay, allowing consumers to use online wallets such as PayPal or Apple Pay to streamline the checkout process. And with more and more consumers using their mobile devices to shop, successful online retailers have also optimized their websites to be responsive and user-friendly for mobile users.

The final piece of the puzzle

Despite these improvements, conversion is still drastically lower online than in brick-and-mortar and a big reason for this is the personalized attention that an associate can offer. Whether they’re investing time to work 1:1 with a customer or just answering a quick question, having a knowledgeable resource easily available can be make or break.

This is no less true online, where research by Forrester tells us 53% of consumers will abandon their cart if it takes too long to find answers to their purchase questions.

As purchasing habits have changed over the past year, we’ve seen more stores adopt new ways to connect with customers and answer their questions. Here are some examples of how retailers are using in-store associates to promote ecommerce conversion.

Video lets customers see and virtually “touch” products online

For retailers looking to make online shopping more personal, video chat is a great option. Video chat is also the best way to give customers an opportunity to virtually “touch” a product before making their purchase decision online. Using video chat, store associates can show how different clothing items work together, for example, or how different footwear options can dress an outfit up or down. Associates can use video to show how a fabric drapes, to compare different sizes of earrings, or to demonstrate the functions on the latest digital camera. And with video, associates can offer a more realistic “browsing” experience, showing customers the full range of products available in a way that more closely replicates in-store shopping.

Web chat gives customers better answers

Consumers rely on pictures when shopping online, but what happens when they have questions about an item? Because it depends on users’ monitor settings, representing color accurately online is notoriously tricky, and written product descriptions can’t address every customer query. For the customer who wants to know whether the black dress is a “really dark black,” if the T-shirt is stretchy, or what type of wood the coffee table is made of, web chat can connect them instantly to an in-store associate who can check the product and provide immediate answers. By giving the store associate an opportunity to connect directly with the customer, web chat also creates a more personal shopping experience that’s more likely to lead to a purchase.

Social chat makes it easy to stay connected 

As post-pandemic shopping habits continue to evolve, convenience has become increasingly important to customers. By equipping store associates with instant messaging and social chat options like WhatsApp or WeChat, retailers can open an easy line of communication with online shoppers, and enable store associates to address concerns and answer questions, while the customer is going about their day. While cart abandonment isn’t going to disappear entirely, retailers can minimize the problem by using technology to connect customers with the right in-store associates in real time. By giving online shoppers instant access to experts who really know and understand their products, retailers can create better customer experiences and increase omnichannel sales without adding costly additional sales resources.

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