Shopping carts have never been treated as badly as they are in the e-commerce world, where the poor things are abandoned at an alarming rate. A California company is hoping to reduce this scourge affecting the world of Internet transactions.
eGain Communications Corp. of Sunnyvale Calif., has released eGain Live 3.0. The software is designed to add a human touch to on-line shopping in an attempt to increase the interaction between company and customer, and thus reduce the numbers of shoppers which end transactions before they are finalized.
“Live (eGain Live 3.0) is really targeted to help Web sites convert browsers into buyers,” said Manish Rai, product manager at eGain.
He cited a Forrester Research Inc. report which found that two thirds of shopping carts are abandoned before purchases are made, and that only three per cent of Web site visitors actually buy anything.
One of the downsides to on-line shopping is the inability to quickly ask a sales clerk a question. Do you have this in blue? How much longer will the sale be on? What is your return policy? According to analysts, it is these simple questions that often keep buyers from making it all the way to the checkout.
“There is something typically that requires additional information to get [customers] to make that transaction,” said Matt Cain, vice-president of Web and collaboration services of The Meta Group in Stamford, Conn. “That is where this element of real-time interaction helps out.”
So how does eGain Live 3.0 actually work? Companies implementing the product have several options. According to Rai, they can put help icons at critical portions of their sites, such as the area where people fill out order forms. When customers click on help, a separate dialogue frame will pop up where they can ask an agent questions. This all occurs in real time, and all without the customer having to leave the current Web page. For companies that have an expansive product range, eGain Live 3.0 will automatically match a customer with the most appropriate company representative.
The software also has several other functions. eGain Live can go into “escort” mode, where either the customer or agent can lead the other to specific places on the site. With many large corporate sites containing hundreds of pages there is often the tendency for customers to abandon searching if they become too frustrated. Agents can monitor a visitor’s movement and if the user appears lost, the agent can offer immediate help.
“Most buyers get [restless] when their internal clock tells them it is taking too long…and they really would love to be able to communicate with someone in live time,” said Christopher Hoffman, world-wide director software services research at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.
He added that “escorted browsing is an example of an interactive capability that brings two people together to interactively communicate in real time on the Web… and it is a compelling feature that mimics real-world sales situations in conventional retail.”
According to eGain, the software uses “works everywhere” technology, and will automatically detect the capability of a customer’s Web browser and adjust accordingly.
While eGain is not alone in the Web-support market, analysts like what they see. “It is very robust, it is a very good product and it has a lot of functionality that is really in line with where we see the market requirements going…such as the queuing and profiling capabilities, the browser sharing and conferencing capability, and the escorted browsing, which is a very powerful feature,” IDC’s Hoffman said.
eGain Live 3.0 (www.egain.com) is priced at US$29,000 for a five seat licence and US$1000 per month for the hosting of five seats.
eGain in Sunnyvale, Calif., is at 1-888-603-4246.