Using chat channels to communicate with customers has been gaining traction fast. Chat helps brands increase customer engagement, brand loyalty, provide support and service through an ultra-convenient channel, and grow revenue through a wide variety of methods. The importance of chat in the retail space is particularly significant and is quickly increasing. In the recent State of Chat in Retail webinar conducted by Forrester, 42% of US adults in 2020 indicate that it’s important for retailers to offer live online chat—up from just 27% in 2019.
What brands are using chat well?
Forrester studied 113 popular brands across seven online and mobile platforms to compile data for their State of Chat in Retail webinar: Apple Business Chat, Business Messenger, desktop website, Messenger, Mobile Website, native app, and WhatsApp. Forrester found that the vast majority of retailers are currently using chat to improve the customer experience by enabling businesses to access information and influence purchase decisions. However, most haven’t yet implemented options that let customers complete transactions in chat.
Below are some of the key use cases unearthed in Forrester’s research. Many of these forward-thinking brands are using chat in simple, yet powerful, ways—and customers are loving them for it.
IMPROVING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE IN CHAT
Both Walmart and Domino’s Pizza are using chat in a straightforward way: they’re servicing customers where they are and enabling customers to message their brands on a third-party platform. Simple, but very effective. This is also a powerful strategy for brands who don’t feel like they get enough traffic on their own website.
1. Walmart: search. click. chat.
Walmart is using Apple Business Chat and Google Business Messenger to help customers reach them in chat. A search for Walmart in iOS, along with the usual options to call or visit the company’s website, includes a button to message Walmart directly. A click on the “Message” button opens a new chat window and starts the conversation. On Android, you can start a chat either from a search or by clicking “Message” in Google Maps.
2. Domino’s Pizza: one-click starts a chat
This popular pizza brand drives traffic by making access to their chat easy by placing a click-to-chat Facebook Messenger button prominently on their company’s Facebook page. Customers using Facebook can quickly and easily utilize chat and this deployment will gradually change consumer behavior for the company.
MARKETING IN CHAT
Combining contextual insights from within a customer chat with historical customer data from other channels, allows for very precise, targeted marketing efforts. It’s a great way for brands to target customers with relevant promotions and loyalty and rewards offers while they are in the engage and discovery stage—and serve them right within the chat experience.
3. Hilton: targeting customers with promotions
When chatting with Hilton about booking a trip, Hilton agents can send offers they think customers might be interested in via a pop-up window right in the chat. This is a very easy, yet effective, way to leverage the contextual information that comes through in chat to deliver an immediate, personalized offer.
4. Sephora and Tractor supply: nudging shoppers toward their private label products
These two retailers nail the process of helping customers pick out a product. Their agents pointed customers to their own private label lines, along with a bit of explanation about why they are highly recommended. If you’re a brand or retailer with a private label, this is an effective way to showcase your most profitable merchandise.
INFLUENCING PURCHASING IN CHAT
One very common reason customers visit a brand’s website is to learn about product availability. Checking inventory within specific stores, learning store hours, and getting product information and product recommendations are all common use cases as well. Retailers offering these options via chat report anecdotally that they increase conversion rates and customer satisfaction levels.
5. Aldi: precise product availability
Aldi’s chat readily tells customers that the item they want is in stock at the store they want—and shows the customer the exact number of products available in that store.
6. Asley Home: personalized product suggestions
Some of the best chat experiences came from asking agents for help choosing a product. Ashley’s agent asked follow-up questions about mattress size, preferred sleeping position, and desired fill material to help home in on a truly personalized recommendation in real time.
ENABLING TRANSACTIONS IN CHAT
As we mentioned above, many of the retail brands surveyed haven’t yet adopted using chat to complete actual transactions, with a couple of key exceptions. This is one of the most transformative uses of chat, and one that we at Clickatell are making reality for forward-thinking global brands with our chat commerce solutions.
7. Warby Parker: seamless checkout in chat
Industry-upending Warby Parker offers a very efficient, seamless checkout experience in chat. Once you chose an item to purchase and provided the agent with contact info, you can choose to Decline The Purchase or Enter Your Payment Info. Clicking the Enter Payment button pops open a window for payment information, right within the chat itself.
8. Sephora: quick chat checkout if you have an account
Sephora lets you conduct a purchase transaction, but only if you already have an account with them. It’s a little less streamlined than the Warby Parker flow above, but still an excellent experience. You’ll just need to confirm your address, the last four digits of your credit card, and card billing address.
SERVICING CUSTOMERS IN CHAT
Helping customers both pre-and post-purchase is, by far, the most prevalent way retail brands are improving the customer service experience with chat. It’s widely used by retailers across the globe, and likely a familiar experience to many of us already. Specific used cases include using chat to provide information like order tracking, estimated delivery times, and processing returns and exchanges.
9. Lidl and Wendy’s: pointing customers to nearby stores
Both of these retailers provide customers with full store details when they ask about nearby locations. It’s a great way to help customers very early in their shopping journey and encourage them to visit the local store. Lidl calls out specific hours for high-risk customer shoppers during the pandemic. If you confirm your location in Wendy’s chat, it’ll immediately open a window to start an order for that location—a clever way to entice a sale.
After providing the order an order number, an Urban Outfitters agent chats back a precise, down-to-the-minute update on estimated delivery. Eighty-three percent of customers surveyed say that estimated date and time of arrival is important for retailers to have on their website.
Chat as a way to enhance the customer experience—and make purchases—will only continue to gain traction. Contextual insights, speech recognition, image recognition, handwriting identification, channel platform developments, and many other factors are fueling this digital transformation.
Clickatell makes it easy to design and deliver these seamless engagements—with no technical experience needed. Our drag-and-drop visual tool, Clickatell Chat Flow, simplifies the process of rolling out seamless cross-channel customer journeys from one that requires weeks or months and pulls on many resources across your company, to one that can be designed and deployed by a non-technical business user with no long lead times. Our SMS service lets you send messages using an intuitive, no-code interface that does not require deep technical expertise. And, our chat commerce solution helps customers not just engage, but also safely and efficiently make purchases within chat.
Learn more by reaching out to Clickatell today and talking to a representative about how we can help your business start benefitting from today’s chat opportunities.