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Consumers will spend more with retailers they can message with this holiday season

by | Aug 5, 2021 | Public Relations

Brands and retailers are understandably nervous about the upcoming holiday shopping season—it’s unclear how consumers will shop, which product makers and shops they came to trust (or distrust) during the COVID crisis, and how they’ll interact with the ones with whom they choose to engage. New research from conversational AI firm LivePerson sheds light on what brands can do to test the waters this year.

The season is certainly set to look different in 2021, as consumers change their habits and brands deal with an ongoing labor shortage. The firm’s new study, Conversational Commerce for the Holidays: A Digital Retail Wish Guide, offers insights into what retailers need to know this holiday season—revealing that consumers place increased trust in and will spend more money with retailers that support digital and in-store experiences with messaging and virtual assistants.

Retailers that invest in conversational solutions will have a competitive advantage this holiday season

Three-quarters (75 percent) of consumers say they’d purchase more from a website that allowed them to message with an expert to ask questions and get help making purchases, and 63 percent saying they’d purchase more from a website that offered a virtual assistant to help.

The survey findings also note that messaging builds consumer trust, with 62 percent of respondents reporting they would trust an online retailer more if associates were readily available on messaging.

“Between unpredictable e-commerce surges and the ongoing labor shortage, this year’s holiday season will be full of challenges for retailers,” said Rob LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson, in a news release. “The good news is that consumers are excited to connect with brands via messaging, which can be scaled quickly with a strategic blend of conversational AI and human agents. These AI-powered experiences will play a critical role as brands seek to deliver convenient, customized care and commerce experiences for everything from inventory inquiries and online purchases to curbside delivery and in-store support.”

Demand for digital is seeping into the in-store experience, but data protection is critical

Fifty-seven percent of consumers reported that they plan to conduct the majority of their holiday shopping online, and the demand for digital is starting to seep into their expectations for in-store experiences. Four in five (80 percent) respondents said they would message from their phone while in a store if in-store associates were busy or unavailable.

However, data protection is still top of mind for shoppers, with 68 percent saying that they are not comfortable with retailers tracking their activity and behavior online, even if they receive a personalized online shopping experience. Notably, 64 percent approve of retailers using information they shared directly in messaging conversations, showing the opportunity for businesses to gather data through messaging rather than traditional means like online cookies.

Consumers trust conversational AI to help with common e-commerce activities

Consumers overwhelmingly reported trusting conversational AI with a variety of specific online shopping tasks, especially when informed—in line with industry best practices—that they could be transferred to human associates as needed. When online shopping, consumers report they would trust a virtual assistant to help with the following common e-commerce activities:

Consumers will spend more with retailers they can message with this holiday season

Finally, the survey findings also noted that consumers are interested in virtual experiences this holiday season, with respondents sharing they’d take part in the following activities:

  • Virtual showrooms — 45 percent
  • Viewing products in augmented/virtual reality — 44 percent
  • Shopping while watching a livestream — 34 percent
  • Video consultations with personal shoppers — 29 percent

Consumers will spend more with retailers they can message with this holiday season

Read the full report here.

LivePerson conducted the survey in partnership with PureSpectrum, surveying 2,625 consumers across the US, UK, and Australia. The survey was conducted in July 2021.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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