RTIH: What has been the industry reaction thus far?
SM: We started taking video calls in early 2021 – so getting toward the end of lockdowns.
We bypassed a lot of the craziness and intensity of the first wave of live video shopping, which was a good thing. We were looking for clients who were interested in building live video as a channel.
Customers love it. We have an average Net Promoter Score of anywhere between 70 and 80 depending on the month. Customers who can’t get to a store due to things like distance, accessibility or people not ready to commit to a store visit, are getting access to a personal shopping experience.
That naturally suits the big omnichannel players out there, or retailers/brands with a limited store network. Interestingly, pureplay e-commerce also performs well.
You don’t need a physical store. You could be taking calls from home, or from what we call visual studios, which are purpose built rooms, that might have some stock there, but without the noise and distractions of the shopfloor.
A physical space helps because of the video, but the e-commerce capabilities of Confer With reduce the need for a full physical space.
From a sector perspective – in retail, we are seeing take-up with furniture and homewares, fashion, consumer electronics, sporting goods, beauty, luxury goods like jewellery and watches.
Anything that a customer is likely to have a question about, Confer With can save a sale before they abandon to a competitor (or not buying at all).
RTIH: What has been your biggest challenge/setback?
SM: I think our biggest challenge has been having to follow technology that has a specific use case of store associates flipping their camera inside a store and showing product to customers.
During lockdown – the prevailing technology was just that – and I think the whole of the retail market understands that to be the way that it should be done.
Unfortunately, retailers that understand that as “the” use case probably did okay with it in a lock down – but it didn’t work when stores reopened. We knew that would happen – and that is why we built a whole e-commerce framework around Confer With – a video commerce framework.
As a result, we have a lot of retailers who have tried the video only use case and failed with it. So there is a bit of work needed on our side to show what can be done, and what can be done is pretty cool now.
Video commerce can be executed from studios in contact centres, with specialist virtual consultants, or personal shoppers working from home.
RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing retailers right now?
SM: I think when you speak to retailers, probably their biggest challenge is hiring staff to work in the stores. The world has changed – people are working hybrid.
There are so many benefits for the worker to be working hybrid. That is of course true in the corporate sector, but we forget that people in retail want to have the same benefit – they want to be working from home too.
Retail is seen as a transitory job for many, with limited possibilities for growth. There is a big change afoot in the way people will be approaching work in retail.
We set out to build a career path for people working in retail and that pathway is over video. Retail workers can now work hybrid, there are flexible work options available to the retail worker that might otherwise have dropped out of retail.
I know that the people taking video calls on Confer With – love operating over video. It’s a thing they enjoy Importantly, when you have an opportunity to operate over video – this creates a career path into the one to many space – in live shopping, which I think suits a lot of the Gen Z workers entering the market.