October 7th, 2007 | 3 MIN READ

Conference Call Shoppers - An Untapped Ecommerce Niche Market?

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

A Bill Me Later/Ipsos Insight survey reports coaxed 12 million Americans to 'fess up to shopping online while on the line on conference calls. Almost one-in-four have done it more than five times in the last year, and one-in-six over ten times. They are an attractive demographic earning over $50,000/year. And most of these "secret shoppers" are men according to the survey, which either means women have higher attention spans or are more likely to lie on surveys about their working habits.

When caught in the act, popular excuses include discussing their potential purchases and asking for advice. Now, if you're in the HR department, you're thinking "Oh no, we thought Facebook was our only problem." But if you're an ecommerce manager, you're thinking "How can I get a piece of the action?"

Remember, you're competing with Tetris, YouTube, Facebook and the traditional doodling for the attention of conference call shoppers. You not only need to build awareness of your "CCS" friendliness, you also need to support the CCS on-site to make sure they don't get caught. So here are some tips:

How To Attract Conference Callers and Other People Distracted At Work

  • Offer discounts during peak business hours
  • Leave "panic" buttons below every "add to cart" button (will display a generic pie chart OR in-progress email composition)
  • Allow them to shop from within Facebook (just means less open tabs for easier switching - it's a usability guideline Jakob Nielsen would be proud of)
  • Offer a subdomain that's skinned like Microsoft Outlook
  • Build a .mobi site for easy surfing from the Blackberry and other hand-held models (more discreet)
  • Provide live chat customer support. It's really, really awkward to try to speak softly during a business call
  • Enable hotkeys. The less a user has to "clack clack" or "click click" the better. Especially on speakerphone.
  • Write good product descriptions. (Hey, this is just a given!)
  • Allow users to see who's online and add them to their network. People are always interested in reaching out to like-minded people.
  • Add a funky (and handy) random excuse generator for when you get caught. Examples: "Oh hi sir, I heard it was your anniversary...say, does the Mrs. like golf?" or "I just read an article in the New York Times that the proper lighting can improve employee productivity by 67% - like this Tiffany lamp, for example."

Kidding aside, the survey was sponsored by Bill Me Later which enables members to shop without credit cards from any of their participating merchants. Getting involved with the Bill Me Later program is one way you can help users who prefer not to enter in their credit card information every time they shop at a new store. Bill Me Later members may use the merchant list for discovering new online retailers or simply prefer to shop only from participating stores so it's a good program to consider if you're a merchant.

Here at Elastic Path, we understand that our Webinar attendees may be used to surfing the online shoposphere while listening in on other conference calls. This is why we pack our Webinars with attractive Power-Point slides that replicate the online shopping experience, and we estimate/would like to believe this holds the attention of 72% more attendees than non-ecommerce Webinars. We think that's impressive. We also invite the best guests in the business to ensure that attendees will be hanging on every word. If you don't believe us, why not sign up for Wednesday's Secrets of Social Media Marketing Webinar with the one and only Neil Patel and let us prove it to you?

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