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‘Tis the Season to be Shopping. Will Video be the Tipping Point in Your Purchasing Decision?

“’Tis the season” as they say.  Soon you will hear the count- down of how many shopping days left until Christmas.  Like it or not, the biggest retail shopping day of the year takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving.  But, what I really get excited about is Cyber Monday.  I don’t know about you, but I plan to do the majority of my shopping online.  I am not new to online shopping of course.  I have been using it out of necessity as a working mother without an abundance of extra time and will continue to use it for a variety of reasons including…

I don’t have to beat the crowds for those BIG sales, I can compare prices instantly on a single site, I usually can finagle free shipping by using coupon codes or just taking advantage of holiday incentives, and I can get my shopping done in a matter of minutes versus the hours I would have spent had I actually gone to the store.

I will say that the shopping experiences I have had to date have been pretty good.  But, they could still improve.  For example, there have been several occasions where I have had questions about an electronics product (like a computer) and wanted to ask someone who really understood the features of the product.  I wanted to have that real-time experience where I could have a back and forth conversation with a “human.”  I don’t want to just look at the picture of the computer and guess by the description whether or not it was the right purchase to make.  Another time I was ordering a chair for my home office online and wanted to make sure I had the right style and color to match my room.  So I called the support line and had to describe my room, desk dimensions, and wall color etc. In the end, I asked for a fabric sample to be sent before deciding whether or not to purchase.   I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if I could  actually show a design expert at the company my living space via video sharing and the designer  could offer  instant recommendations?  To be fair, some sites have made inroads where you can have an instant chat with a member of their staff while on their site, but not only is it rather impersonal, I don’t feel a connection. Most importantly, if I don’t get the answers I am looking for I just X-out of my chat window with no remorse and more often than not will continue to another site.  Retailers are missing a big opportunity to engage with their customers and make that sale.  They need to transform their customers’ experience.

Cisco just introduced Jabber Guest at our Collaboration Summit this past October. Jabber Guest  helps guest users easily interact with enterprise workers by using real-time communications that are high quality, standards-based, and comprehensive. Guests can simply select a “click to chat” button on a web page and are brought directly to a live person. This is a huge step forward in engagement with the customer.

Let’s look at the benefits.  From my point of view as a customer, with an instant video chat I get to reach an expert and have my questions answered about my purchase to make an informed decision.  The retailer has a much better opportunity not only to make the sale on the current product, but also show and share data about other products for my consideration.  Through conversation they can gather more information about my purchasing needs and habits and ultimately create better customer loyalty over time.

In this instance, Cisco Jabber Guest would be built upon the Cisco Unified Communications, collaboration and video investments of the retailer.  This enables the retailer to extend the value of their current investments beyond the walls of the organization.  They can provide standards-based voice and video communications using their installed corporate Cisco communications and security infrastructure.

While it requires a one-time plug-in download today, Cisco Jabber Guest is designed to take advantage of upcoming standards such as WebRTC.

Developers can also use the available SDKs to embed collaborative experiences powered by Jabber Guest in websites and mobile applications. Learn more about the SDKs at the Cisco Jabber Developer site.

It’s about time retailers caught up to users’ expectations by leveraging video to improve the customer experience and Jabber Guest makes that very easy.  After all, that PC I bought online last year came with a built in camera!  If it is anything like last year, this shopping season will offer so many product options to choose from.  My loyalty will go the retailer that offers me not only the best price, but the best customer experience.

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