When Ecommerce Meets Video Chat: A Love Story in the Making


They are unlikely prospects. One deals with a plethora of products for sale at the fancy of intrepid virtual buyers and the other is largely a tool of collaboration between remote workers. What can they possibly have in common? Yet there is a budding romance in the making here. Ecommerce and video chat have found a way to marry and create rewarding shopping experiences that eliminate cart abandonment issues and allow clients to appraise items before purchase.

Two Statistics That Give a Clue

Video chat started out as a way to connect family members forced to stay away from each other. As the world grew smaller, distances between loved ones increased when foreign cultures and companies beckoned enthusiastic Gen Xers on the make. Visual inputs in the form of what is commonly known as “face time” mitigated loneliness so well that soon enterprises picked up on the benefits and made it a part of their corporate process flows. Video chat evolved into the more formal videoconferencing and even grew its own etiquette to ensure fruitful interactions.

Why is that important? The legacy of video chat is protean to say the least. And the past points to the future. The technology is flexible enough to accommodate new and innovative uses and this time around the partner is Ecommerce.

Baymard Institute has found that most retailers struggle with cart abandonment rates that hovers around a staggering 68%.

That’s nearly two thirds of potential revenue lost to competitors. And the primary reason driving this number is a feeling of overwhelm and confusion that accompanies the ecommerce experience. There is so much to choose from. And not enough information to go by!

Static images and text descriptions of features and benefits can never replace the sensory inputs that handling a real product brings to the equation. The texture, the size, the fit, the overall impact and even the branding and logo create excitement and strongly influence decision-making.

In the absence of tactile stimulation prospects are unable to make up their mind and they just leave, visiting the nearest Target store or putting the matter off until it blows up as an emergency, in which case the first platform offering a reasonable deal scores the sale.

Enter video chat!

ReelSEO conducted a survey that spelt it out in black and white: 82% of respondents believe that video chats and conferencing has a positive impact on their business.

More importantly as per Invodo’s findings, 52% of shoppers claim that watching product videos make them more confident in their ability to invest in online products.

Video is extremely powerful and it boosts engagement like no other. In conjunction with the fact that a video chat can also bring unprecedented clarity into the what, why, how of buying items from ecommerce platforms, it is only sensible that video become a part of this global trend that will not go away any time soon.

So does video chat make a lot of sense in an ecommerce setting?

Online retailing is not natural. It will take some time before evolution and environments adjust the wiring in human brains and virtual buying becomes the norm.

Source: YCharts

As a result, shoppers will keep missing the ability to engage all of their senses in the purchase process for a long time to come. Therefore, merchants had better provide the best possible visual and audio support to visitors in order to take away some of that disorientation, leading to quicker sales and higher up-sell volumes.

Online Product Demos

Studies show that one third of customers avail video chat support if it is available on an ecommerce platform. And as awareness of the integration starts to spread, the number goes up to touch a solid 100. In short, video chat is disrupting the ecommerce domain.

Things are not likely to return to the static and awkward interface experiences of 2010. The most popular way in which video is leaving its mark is through product demonstrations.

It isn’t always about cost. Sometimes it is about the exhilaration of making a buy. In sectors such as electronics and luxury goods, a product demonstration is a key element of manufacturing “desire.” And thanks to video technology, it is now possible to offer prospective buyers live demos on request.

Providers like ClickMeeting facilitate this functionality through their easy to use-and-customize APIs that can bring the video power directly to the base ecommerce platform the site is built on, or even the CRM used by the marketing/support team.

In fact, some experts believe that with time, devices like Google Glass and augmented reality apps like Blippar will be used by product teams to stream video captured from their perspective to customers for an authentic “looking through the eyes” experience that is as close to a real demo as it can get online.

High Value Purchases

Of late jewellery has gone virtual. Destinations like CaratLane are capitalizing on the spending power that busy women have and enticing them to customize their own bling without needing to step out of the office.

However a diamond is a well and truly a “big investment.” And most buyers do not feel comfortable committing to it even if the site selling them has more valuable certificates and guarantees than local jewellers. Under such circumstances, video chat emerges as the deal broker. Experienced consultants can answer buyers’ questions live and put them at ease about the impending purchase. They associate a “face” to the brand and make the whole experience more human and trustworthy.

Reps walk clients through discount options, quality factors like weight, cut and clarity of the stones, and guide them in choosing and customizing the right metal and size for a perfect look.

Complex Orders

More and more customer relationship management software solutions include client-facing dashboards that allow them to assemble, personalize and customize the specifications of their order online.

Believe it or not, automobiles are now officially a part of the ecommerce brigade. And Rover is taking things up a notch by allowing their clientele to have the convenience of an online support representative who helps choose a model, picks the right color, assists in deliberations over the luxury trappings, and even discusses financing options to ensure that no open loops induce the slightest smidgeon of doubt in the minds of buyers. All through the magic of one touch videoconferencing.

Any industry that has multiple layers of customizations to a product and a high chance of prospects backing out of a deal because of the “guilt of overspending” can benefit from video chat as a part of its system.

The VIP Experience

Last but not the least, the elite buyer experience is another gift of video chat to online retail. Many portals are creating frequent or top buyer “circles” and arranging for these loyal few to enjoy a personalized shopping experience. Virtual concierges are on the stand-by for these individuals and customer segments. Whenever they engage with a product and spend more than a given period of time on a page without hitting the checkout button, the assistants take over, transferring the interaction to a video platform where customers can discuss their needs and then have products and variations suggested to them. All parameters, from shoe size to complexion, are taken into consideration by these online “hosts” and “advisors” – their expertise assists and influences the purchase decision just as in real life.

Your Turn

The video chat – ecommerce partnership became a huge hit the day Amazon gave it the nod, embedding the Mayday feature in Kindles and Fire tablets. Video is already being hailed as the frontrunner form of content marketing. It is now a matter of staying ahead of the curve and finding new ways to make the most of the integration. Are you game?

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Written by Tracy Vides

Tracy is a brand strategist and market researcher who advises ecommerce startups and SMEs on content and social media. She's also a prolific blogger – you can read her insights on business and tech publications like Digitalist Mag, She Owns It and Usability Geek. Connect with her on Twitter for a chat anytime!

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