June 14, 2007, 12:00 AM

Radiator.com boosts conversions with live chat-call service

Visitors to Radiator.com used to convert to buyers at a rate of 1-2%, close to the average rate for online retailing, but among those that use a new call-back feature, the conversion rate climbs to 35-40%, director of sales and marketing John Thys says.

Visitors to Radiator.com used to convert to buyers at a rate of 1-2%, close to the average rate for online retailing, but among those that use a new call-back feature, the conversion rate climbs to 35-40%, director of sales and marketing John Thys tells InternetRetailer.com.

“We find it’s always best to speak with the customer so we can drill down into details to make sure we offer the correct part that the customer needs,” Thys says.

Radiator.com is the retail web site for a nationwide chain of about 150 franchise auto parts stores that operate under the 1-800-Radiator brand. When a visitor to Radiator.com clicks on a car make and model, he’s immediately greeted by an automated live chat session. The session, personalized by a virtual customer service rep named “Chuck,” asks a series of questions about engine size and other car or truck features to identify the proper radiator.

Once the live chat session identifies the right radiator, the last frame of the session asks the shopper if he’d like to receive a call from a customer service rep to ask any more questions and complete the sale. Nearly half, or about 45%, of visitors enter their phone number to receive a call, Thys says.

The call feature, which is based on “click-to-call” technology from eStara Inc., presents the call center rep with an instant online view of the shopper’s live chat session as well as any browsing activity prior to the live chat session. Although the live chat feature was developed in-house by Radiator.com, it integrates well with the eStara click-to-call feature, Thys says. (The eStara “click-to-call” feature can be deployed with a separate icon that lets shoppers click into a window for entering their phone number and request a call-back, but Radiator.com instead uses its live chat tool to invite shoppers to engage a call.)

The call option has worked so well, Thys says, that Radiator.com has removed the shopping cart feature from its site. Shoppers who choose to leave the live chat session can still place their own call to the toll-free number displayed on Radiator.com, but such calls don’t provide background support to call center reps and result in lower conversion rates, Thys says.

The retailer expects to do more than $10 million in sales this year through Radiator.com, Thys says, noting that the privately held company does not release total sales figures. It also plans to expand its number of franchise store locations to about 215 throughout the U.S. (except Hawaii) and Canada, he adds.

 

 

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