Text Message Concierge Ecommerce Services

Wasn't the Entire Idea of Ecommerce That It Should Be Self-Serve?

Helpful Online Concierge
Helpful Online Concierge. fatihhoca / E+ / Getty Images

So you feel like buying a hard to find, old, indie movie? Or maybe you are in the mood for some spicy Kung Pao chicken, but are not sure who would home-deliver? Or maybe you just need to get that obsolete air conditioner working again, but do not know where you would find the right parts.

Since you know I write about the topic, you probably expect me to say this is where ecommerce helps. And it does.

But it's not that simple. Today there are too many ecommerce websites. Even if you restrict yourself to the Amazons and eBays of the world, there are way too many products listed on them for you to be able to narrow down the one you want. As if that was not enough, there's the issue of whether something is in stock, or gets delivered to your location. And there are so many more buyer issues that might bother you such as: is this the best price I can get? What do other buyers have to say about it?...

Buying Online Is Not a Simple Process

Of course you can help yourself and get the best price on the best goods, and make sure they get delivered on time. But this takes time, lots of reading, and comparisons across products, brands, and websites. Not to mention logins, registrations, email verifications, payments, one-time-passwords, and more.

Have You Seen Customers Buying Air-Tickets Online? They Could Spend an Hour Doing That

If online transactions were the holy grail of efficiency, why does it take so much time to buy air tickets? The comparison, the "what-if," the "if I took this, then how would it affect that," and a whole lot more. Is it really any more efficient than booking tickets on the telephone as many would do before travel portals gave us the power of self-serve?

And Then There Is the Non-Suave Buyer

If you know how to use internal and external search engines to narrow down to the exact offering and if you can effectively use advanced search, you might wonder what the fuss is all about. But how many online customers are suave enough to know all their search and navigation options?

This Is Where the Concierge Ecommerce Services Come In

These services have a WhatsApp like interface, in fact, several of them actually allow you to use WhatsApp itself. A typical customer session might go as follows:

You: I want to fly to Atlanta this weekend, and want the lowest price ticket.

Concierge Ecommerce Service (CES): Would you be ok with a mid afternoon flight?

You: Sure. But I want the ticket price to be under $70.

CES: I get you a 2:20 p.m. Frontier Airlines flight F9-1443 from Miami to Atlanta for $56. Should I book it for you?

You: Yes that works.

CES: Please follow this link to make your payment and I will book the ticket right away.

And there you have it. Your virtual personal shopper has purchased the ticket for you. And it's not only about air tickets. It could have been any other product: apparel, gifts, food, or what have you.

Why Do Concierge Ecommerce Service Make Sense?

Many ecommerce segments are seeing an onslaught of first-time or early users. These users need help. So once they become experienced buyers, would they not need these services? Alas! The growth in the number of ecommerce players, as well as the increased complexity of each player means that shopping online is a non-trivial task.

In case one is a regular user of a particular etailer, and uses their dedicated shopping app, one may not need assistance. But if users are accessing the online store using a browser, or are infrequent users of a specific destination, then a concierge service is a boon.

What's more? These services often do not cost the customer anything, as they tend to get some form of affiliate commission from the ecommerce business.