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Live Chat and Chatbots: The New Unsung Heroes of Retail?

09/10/2019 | 04:47 PM | 6 Min Read

Live Chat and Chatbots - The New Unsung Heroes of Retail - Accumula Blog

Your customers want quick, responsive customer service. But the expectation of prompt customer engagement can be a burden on your limited resources.

At the same time, retailers aren’t in a position to negotiate. Consumers have plenty of options in terms of where they choose to shop, and if they don’t get the responsive experience they’re seeking from your brand, they’ll ultimately seek out another retailer capable of meeting those demands.

For retailers with an online retail store, live online chat has become a highly efficient means of providing support, expertise, and quick service to customers who expect personal attention regardless of which channel they shop. And live chat has been quickly embraced by those consumers, which is driving adoption of the technology by retail brands. 

Fifty-four percent of retailers now offer live chat on their Ecommerce websites, and this percentage is expected to grow in the coming years. Even for boutique retailers, this service isn’t just possible—it’s practical, and profitable.

Improved Responsiveness, Increased Conversions

Before we get to the “how” of live chat, it’s important to understand the “why.” 

First and foremost is the flexibility of providing personalized service at any time of day. Depending on the type of live chat you deploy, any business, regardless of size, can outsource 24/7 live support, as well as faster and more efficiently managed customer service queries.

Research shows that the availability of live chat on a website has a huge impact on a company’s bottom line, including a roughly eight times increase in conversion rates as compared to retail sites that don’t use live chat features.

Better conversion rates translate to increased sales, which justify the added cost of live chat. If you implement this solution the right way, you are likely to see a quick return that surpasses the cost.

Flexible Approaches to Implementing Live Chat

Your business has several options for offering live chat. Although live chat with humans is often preferred by customers—and necessary for resolving many detailed questions—retailers have the option of using automated chatbots in addition to live agents.

These chatbots use artificial intelligence to provide an authentic, natural customer service experience that can quickly identify the reason for the customer service inquiry. In many cases, they operate in conjunction with live customer service representatives, handling the front lines of customer interactions before choosing how to address the customer’s needs.

Suppose that a customer uses your online chatbot to ask about your physical store’s hours of operation. In this case, the chatbot can likely handle the entire interaction on their own, providing the customer with the information they need without ever connecting them to a live customer service agent. 

But if a customer starts a live chat session because they’re unhappy with a recent clothing order, this is a more complicated matter—and it’s better to have a human representative handle the interaction. In this case, the chatbot can ask the customer to hold while the chatbot connects them to a different representative. 

Beyond Your Website: Chat as Channel

Chat isn’t limited to your website—chat services extended into social media and beyond. Many retailers use Facebook Messenger as a chat solution because it is frequently used by 1.3 billion potential customers, many of them global. Messenger also integrates easily with your website and can be customized to speak in your brand’s voice. 

Recently, Shopify launched a new chat service called Shopify Chat that expands on previous chatbot and live chat services offered by Shopify Ping. This chat service is integrated with both Facebook Messenger and Apple’s Business Chat to facilitate easier, more valuable conversations with customers across platforms.

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Bringing Digital Conversations to Brick and Mortar

Physical stores are often preferred by shoppers who like to have the expertise, guidance, and personal attention of a sales associate. By making live chat a tool for your sales associates, your brand can deliver a similar level of customer care to your online shoppers.

Some businesses are even taking live chat a step further by empowering in-store staff to incorporate video and audio and further integrate the physical and digital shopping experience. This rich, immersive live chat experience mimics the in-store experience for online shoppers, providing a level of service, responsiveness, and familiarity that could win over some shoppers who still prefer the human interaction offered by the brick-and-mortar experience.


Chat solutions are still evolving, but they already offer significant value to retailers seeking a personal connection with online customers. If you’re looking for ways to increase the value and appeal of your online store and your brand, take a close look at chat solutions and see if they are right for you.

Want to learn more about how live chat technology can boost your omnichannel sales? Start a conversation with us now!

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