Shinola Brings the In-Store Experience Online with Live Chat

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The high-end retailer sees a 1600% conversion rate increase after adding live chat support to its site.

Retailers that boast high conversion rates typically follow this rule of thumb: They provide on-the-spot service to assist customers with their purchases. Rather than watch potential customers click away from their e-commerce sites, many businesses have been adding live chat support to save sales and keep customers happy. Smart retailers know that if shoppers don't find what they're looking for, they quickly move on, giving brands a slim opportunity to guide and assist those shoppers.

Shinola, a luxury lifestyle brand that specializes in watches, leather goods, and bicycles that are "built to last," understands the importance of assisting customers at critical moments during the sell, whether they're shopping in its stores or online. Headquartered in Detroit, Shinola sells its merchandise in more than 800 locations including its flagship stores and department stores. With 47 percent of Shinola's traffic coming from mobile and tablet devices, the retailer needed a multichannel customer solution that would effectively respond customers' inquiries across both its digital and physical channels

The company turned to Moxie, a customer engagement technology provider, for help delivering a consistent service experience across devices. Shinola deployed the Moxie Suite, which includes live chat, FAQ articles, and email, in July as part of an early adopter program.

Shoppers tap a bell that appears on the right-hand side of the screen to start a text chat with a representative, send an email, or find answers to common topics like the company's return policy. All of these actions take place on the product pages so that customers don't have to click off them.

Additionally, chat transcripts are recorded and stored in a database so representatives can review a returning customer's conversation history. The live chat is only available during business hours, but customers still have the option to connect with Shinola via email or the FAQ section so that they don't feel as if they're entering an empty storefront.

The company started seeing results within the first week of deploying the new platform when it saw its overall online conversion rate rise by 6.25 percent. Interestingly, they found no difference in the content of the chat conversations compared to phone calls: One-third were sales based, one-third were related to post sales questions, and another third were miscellaneous questions.

However, there was a 1,600 percent increase in conversion rate between visitors who engaged with the chat feature and those who did not, suggesting that customers were ready to buy but perhaps had a quick question and would have abandoned their carts were it not for the agent's help. Shinola realizes the value of these online services from its ability to "staff our online storefronts just like we staff our physical stores, serving our customers on their terms and delivering a consistent experience," notes Shinola Customer Service Manager Marina Nardone.

For its next move, Shinola plans to continue "fine-tuning" its online experience, Nardone adds, and enhance its engagement strategies by leveraging contextual data such as a returning customer's purchase history or click-through behavior, so that an agent could potentially offer more personalized recommendations-just like a salesperson who knows the likes and dislikes of his customers.

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