What a five-year-old has to teach online shoppers

LandsEnd.com pioneered live text chat among online retailers when it launched the service in 1999. Today, it’s still driving higher conversion rates and bigger baskets, but it also is critical as a way to train shoppers how to use the site.

Kurt Peters

Lands’ End became the first major retailer to implement online live text chat service when it added it to its web site in 1999, and it’s still a key part of the online sales effort, manager of customer services Angie Bellinder tells Internet Retailer. Customers who engage “Lands’ End Live” on LandsEnd.com are 67% more likely to make a purchase than visitors who don’t use the feature. And among those who convert after using live chat, the average order size is 8% higher.

Bellinder says that while Lands’ End continues to develop, promote and support live chat services on the web site, its use has dropped off slightly from a few years ago, when one of its original functions was to give customers on a dial-up connection a way to contact the company while shopping without having to disconnect from the web. “Our customers are becoming more educated,” she says. “Lands’ End Live is featured on every one of our product pages where buying decisions are made, and we haven’t done anything to make it less visible. But there’s more broadband out there.”

Live chat on LandsEnd.com is integrated with a “Call Me Back” feature in which shoppers can request a phone call from an agent. Calls are typically returned within seconds, at which time the agent can launch a co-browse interaction. Bellinder says a high percentage of those who engage live chat wind up using the co-browse feature as part of their session, and that’s where live chat’s other big utility becomes apparent. Collaborative browsing “has become a great educational tool for our customers,” she says. “If a customer comes to our site and is not able to complete a transaction, we can actually use it to educate them.”


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