UK Retailers Using Live Chat to Enhance the Purchase Process

Live chat has grown from zero to all major brands embracing the technology.


Just a few years ago you’d have been hard-pressed to find more than a small handful of retailers using live chat successfully. In fact, as of 2014, just 14% of online retailers in the UK were providing a live chat service to customers. But in 2017, the rate at which retailers are adding live chat services to their websites is growing rapidly.

Why is Live Chat so Popular?

Customers love live chat, and while the adoption of this service has been relatively slow, online retailers are now learning to love it too. My own theory is that we’re all working in open plan offices and it’s easier to conduct a live chat question session than to phone the retailer with all your colleagues listening in!

For customers, live chat means better customer service. The ability to speak to a brand representative in real-time provides an additional way for customers to get help, that was previously only possible when shopping in store. Making it possible for customers to get live help when shopping online both enhances the purchase process and creates a more personal level of service.


Live chat has the highest customer satisfaction level of any customer service channel, at 73%. Email clocks in at 61%, and surprisingly, just 44% for phone interactions.


In one study, live chat providers BoldChat surveyed customers to find out what they liked about live chat. Overwhelmingly, the main reason is simply that people get immediate answers to their problems. Other reasons include the ability to multi-task, the efficiency of live chat as a means of communication, and the superiority of live chat over email. And for many people, a dislike of phone conversations makes live chat the better choice.

Another factor that adds to the utility of live chat is that customers tend to use a variety of different touchpoints in their interactions with a brand, before actually making a purchase. The addition of live chat to an online retailer provides an additional touchpoint that is also a highly useful service.

For retailers, therefore, adding live chat to a website means providing a better overall experience for customers. Live chat helps customers get answers to questions in real time, improves the purchase process, creates a positive impression of the retailer, and ultimately improves customer conversion rate, and helps ensure that one-time customers will become repeat customers.

Why Online Retailers Need Live Chat

Online retailers are adopting live chat services at a rapid pace, now that the many benefits of live chat are becoming apparent. Some of these benefits include:

  • Allows an online retailer to interact with customers during the purchase process, at points where frustration might cause them to leave the site. Instead, they can use live chat to solve a problem that might have prevented them from making a purchase.
  • Live chat reduces the cost of customer service. Live chat interactions are more efficient, as service reps can manage multiple chats at the same time, and can more effectively multi-task while interacting with customers.
  • Live chat is more convenient for customers. Live chat typically involves a lower wait time than using a call centre, and when using live chat customers can connect directly with a service rep, rather than having to navigate menu options over the phone.
  • Customers who have a good live chat experience are more likely to become repeat customers.


According to an ATG Global Consumer Trend study, 90% of customers say live chat is helpful, and 63% say they’d be more likely to return to a retailer that uses live chat.


How Argos uses live chat to create a multichannel experience

Adding a live chat service to a retail website helps to create a more seamless purchase process, one that integrates both traditional and online selling methods. In terms of the multichannel purchase process, UK retailer Argos is one company that’s employing live chat to excellent effect on its own website. In fact, in a recent Omnichannel Customer Experience Report from the digital and multichannel consultant agency Practicology, Argos topped the list thanks to factors such as the quality of its live chat service, along with features that allow the retailer to seamlessly integrate its online retail and offline stores into one cohesive range of services.

SpaceNK uses live chat to help customers make purchase decisions

SpaceNK is an online-only beauty retailer that pulls out all the stops to make shopping an enjoyable and satisfying experience for customers. Buying makeup online can often be a difficult experience, simply because colours often look different on a computer screen than they do in reality. And with beauty products, it can be difficult to know in advance how something will look on the skin without getting the chance to try it first. SpaceNK has gone to considerable effort to help customers solve these kinds of issues, with a live chat service that allows customers to get real-time advice from beauty experts who can help them make good product choices. This brilliant feature means that SpaceNK can provide an unparalleled level of customer service, in a highly competitive retail sector.

Novatech helps customers solve tech problems with live chat

Buying computer parts and solving tech problems can be equally dicey, but a good live chat service can make it all much easier. Novatech sells a huge range of PC parts, with over 20,000 products in stock at any time, and offers an equally comprehensive customer support service. Live chat makes it easier for customers to solve tech problems, choose products, and troubleshoot faulty items.

Another great feature is that when live chat is offline, customers can use an integrated one-click feature to send a message instead. While many retailers are still struggling to provide an intuitive and easy-to-use live chat feature, Novatech has already created an elegant solution that seamlessly integrates live chat with a simple messaging system.

Whilst there may be a concern that bots replace real jobs, the reality is that they enable humans to take on more rewarding and less mundane tasks. Read our earlier article, how does live chat benefit business for more.