What is Live Chat and Why is It Important for Your Online Business?

Published on January 4, 2022
Written by
Filed under Selling Channels
Read time 5 Minutes

Image courtesy of LiveChat.

When customers visit a store, salespeople have the opportunity to personally help them make buying decisions.

Online shopping provides less of a one-on-one shopping experience with buyers, as they would need to call a number or send an email to get a personalized support experience.

To bridge that gap, some eCommerce businesses in recent years have added live chat to their sites.

What is Live Chat?

You may have experienced live chat if you recently visited the website of ShipStation user Paleo Treats. If you’re not sure what live chat is, it’s a window that pops up when you’re on a website, and offers the ability for the website visitor to communicate, or chat, in real time with someone representing the website. Live chat is typically used to provide immediate customer support and information to current and prospective customers.

Many visitors will close the live chat window and continue searching. But for those customers who do need help, the live chat opportunity could make a difference between a shopper who buys and a shopper who leaves.


Larger retailers such as Nordstrom and Walmart have adopted a live chat service, and as reported in Business Insider, smaller eCommerce retailers are rapidly adopting live chat customer service, according to Michael Kansky, CEO of live provider LiveHelpNow.

Why is Live Chat Important for eCommerce Businesses?

In a study titled “Making Proactive Chat Work” by Forrester Research, results found included the following:

“Many online consumers want help from a live person while they are shopping online; in fact, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.

Live chat can provide this type of customer support, ultimately achieving multiple business goals, including reducing abandonment, improving conversions, and increasing customer satisfaction.

Here’s why live chat is a good choice for this type of support:

  1. High customer satisfaction rate. According to econsultancy, live chat has the highest satisfaction levels of any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.
  1. Larger order sizes. Kansky shared that retailers that use LiveHelpNow experience an order size increase between 100% and 300% when customers speak to a representative through live chat before making a purchase.
  1. Convenience and no wait times. A survey by Software Advice pinpoints convenience and the desire to avoid hold times as the two main reasons for choosing live chat. These two reasons highlight the importance of implementing a customer service strategy that reduces the amount of effort put in by the customer.

Nik Hawks, owner of Paleo Treats, estimates that 20% of his sales occur after a live chat conversation, although the focus of the live chat is on support, not sales.

“We don’t really use ‘sales techniques,’” says Hawks. “It’s more about answering common questions: ‘Are these gluten-free?’ ‘Do you use refined sugar?’ ‘Will this gift get to its destination on time?’”

Next Steps

Ready to take the next step? We’ll be giving details in a future post on different options for live chat providers, and how to make sure your live chat is successful.

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Written by


I'm Joey, ShipStation's Content & Social Media Coordinator. I spent over a year on ShipStation's Support team which has given me great insight into our product and our customers. Outside of work, you'll find me writing, getting into one of Austin's great microbrews, or relaxing on a trail with my mutt.

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