New Zealand-based internet applications developer Wired Internet has launched Online Shop Assistant, a world-first application which helps potential online customers qualify their purchase options by asking questions, much like a skilled in-store salesperson would.
Wired Internet has identified camera sales as a market segment which lends itself to the Shop Assistant online sales ‘plug-in’, as the consumer’s product knowledge is generally sketchy, and there is a plethora of technical specifications with which to contend.
The vast majority of online shoppers leave an e-commerce site without completing their intended purchase, Wired Internet contends, ‘due to confusion, poor user interface, and the lack of human touch.’
Until now Wired Internet has worked mainly with manufacturers and distributors in products as varied as paints, security cameras, bedding and concrete curing products.
‘Any product which has a technical element and the end consumer doesn’t have a lot of knowledge,’ explained managing director, Mike Baddeley. There is a version of Shop Assistant on the Best Buy website supporting sales of Swann security cameras.
‘People are selling cameras online on the basis of how many megapixels or the zoom function, but that means nothing to most people. You can’t sell just on attributes, you have to sell on the benefits based on the customers requirements.
‘With this tool we are confident that stores will increase their online sales conversion rate.’
Wired Internet has a ‘Lite’ version, currently in use by New Zealand bricks-and-mortar camera store The Camera Shop, which asks a series of three simple questions to understand the customer’s photographic interests, intended applications and budget, and then recommends three or four models which fit the requirements. This links to the store’s e-commerce platform.
The Online Shop Assistant ‘Lite’ version is being offered on the basis of a one-off payment and a monthly fee of around $50.
The full version of Shop Assistant takes customers through a more comprehensive series of questions and then recommends a specific model which fits the customer’s input, in addition to recommending compatible lenses, accessories and alternative models.
‘Other stores may have a different approach, and we can mould the questions to what their selling process is.’
Mr Baddeley said Shop Assistant had advantages over the ‘live chat’ approach to online customer communications as it was in operation 24/7 rather than business hours only, ‘and live chat is only as good as the person on the other end, so it’s not always what it should be.’
He said Wired Internet was ‘knocking on the doors of quite a few camera stores at the moment, and there’s quite a bit of interest.’