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Online Self Service or Live Service

My first (solo) Guest Post on MashableImage by cambodia4kidsorg via Flickr

Mashable today has an interesting story on 3 Sweden, a telecom that combines on-line commerce and live salespeople via the 3LiveShop initiative. It's a great advance in on-line environments as it gives the shopper the option to either self serve or interact with a live person.

We all know that sales follows a cycle.  Today, that cycle in most cases starts with 1) the consumer (or B to B prospect) gathering information from peers, white papers, reviewed etc. to 2) some type of sales interaction, being self service, customer care or in person, followed by 3) some reassurance that the price being paid is fair.  

The ability to model the sales process on-line, and then to interject a true live experience that is geared to match the preferences of the shopper should have a dramatic increase in conversion.  Just using the tried and true sales math, out of every 100 visitors, approximately 5% are ready to buy.  Approximately 1% will buy and prefer self services.  Another 2 to 3% will want some level of interaction either with live chat or an 800#.  That still leaves another 2% that wants to buy, but has some issue that only human interaction can solve.

These response rates can be further enhanced by modeling the type of interactions that lead to higher volume sales.  The "live" opportunity can then be rationed to the best customer.

Every ecommerce retailer should be testing the impact of live interaction on their ROI.  I bet that this will be the retail trend of the year to watch.

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