September 2, 2004, 12:00 AM

Improving conversion with call-ins without breaking the bank

ChoiceShirts.com has increased conversion rates and reduced call center expenses with technology developed in-house that allows customers to call in orders without requiring a customer service rep to re-key order information.

ChoiceShirts.com, a retailer of T-shirts and sweatshirts, has increased conversion rates and reduced call center expenses with technology developed in-house that allows customers to call in orders without requiring a customer service rep to re-key order information.

Three-year-old ChoiceShirts faced a dilemma in that it served a significant number of customers who are reluctant to place an order online yet it sold a relatively low-cost item whose margin couldn’t support a lot of reps’ talk time. “It’s not like we’re selling diamonds with a $300 average order,” says CEO Matt Cohen. “We’re selling a low-cost item and we need to be efficient with each order.”

ChoiceShirts developed technology that assigns a unique identifier to each order in a shopping cart. A customer who calls in the order gives the rep the identifying number and the rep can access the shopping cart online and enter the order. “Each rep has to get the item number, the color, the size and the style for each item,” Cohen says. “Each call could take up to 10 minutes.”

Now all the information is instantly available to the rep and all the rep has to do is verify it and get the shipping address and payment information. The entire process has cut the order time with a sales rep in half and saved $5-$10 per order, Cohen says.

The feature also allows customers to mail or fax in orders, again with the identifier so a rep doesn’t have to re-key all the information. Cohen estimates that up to 25% of orders would have been lost without the call-in/fax/mail-in feature.

To further improve conversion rates, ChoiceShirts has developed an e-mail reminder for customers who abandon shopping carts. About three weeks after a customer has abandoned a cart, the company sends an e-mail reminder that the cart will be available for another 90 days, Cohen says. Customers who don’t respond get a follow-up a week or two later. “We’ve gotten e-mails from customers thanking us for the reminder and telling us they had forgotten they had the cart at the site,” Cohen says.

ChoiceShirts also offers free shipping on orders of four shirts or more and provides a countdown in the shopping cart as to how many more shirts a customer must order to qualify for free shipping. It also offers a free tote bag with five shirts.

 

 

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