September 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

RugSale.com boosts order size by combining live chat with product images

RugSale.com and a local software company build an interface that lets shoppers and agents push product images into chat windows.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

RugSale.com, an online retailer of area rugs, has doubled the average order size among shoppers that use a new live help feature on its site, says Paul Nangle, director of marketing.

The retailer worked with local social media software company DecisionStep Inc. to develop an online interface that lets shoppers and the retailer’s live chat agents view products together online as they chat about them.

When an online shopper clicks RugSale.com’s Live Help link she sees three windows in addition to the standard chat window One window shows the area rug the shopper is looking at, the second window the rug the RugSale associate is looking at, and either the agent or the shopper can drag and drop rugs into the third window to save them. According to Nangle, this gives RugSale staff a better idea of what the customer is looking for, so that agents can then present relevant alternatives from their own knowledge and from products suggested by a recommendation engine the retailer uses from vendor Intelligent Offer.

Nangle notes that the average chat session for shoppers who engage the feature is considerably longer than for shoppers that use chat but don’t engage the new feature. That’s indicative of a personal connection that the feature helps foster between agent and shopper, which keeps shoppers interested in the product, even if they don’t buy right away, he says.

“Our old live help was just a chat box. If an order didn`t happen, it didn`t happen,” Nangle says. “Now we are able to see orders that come in from the chats days or weeks later.”

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