NewChannel’s Real-Time E-Commerce Sales Force

NewChannel Inc., an e-commerce technology company, wants to put sales people back into e-commerce, and national shipping company Consolidated Freightways Inc. is ready to give it a try.

With NewChannel’s new “targeted engagement” technology, companies engaging in e-commerce will be able to add personal interaction between online shoppers and sales representatives, or other advisors, to differentiate their sites from their competitors’. For $4,000 per month, NewChannel will install and provide support for the new technology.

As NewChannel CEO Christopher Risley explains it, consumers shopping for complex services like financial management and investment advice, or, in Consolidated Freightways’ case, shipping information, tend to want more personal hand-holding than those shopping for books, CDs and other “catalog” items.

Watching the Consumer

NewChannel’s Engagement Service Plan (ESP), a package of software and support from NewChannel, uses the new technology to enable company sales reps to interact with Web site visitors in real-time. ESP watches online customers’ actions as they sift through information on the Web site and choose products or services they are interested in. Based on that data, ESP determines when the customer would benefit from contact with a sales rep or other advisor, and the program decides whether that contact should be over the Internet, via telephone or some other way.

From a transactional point of view, the ESP technology is similar to a sales rep at an electronics retail store, who watches from afar as a customer plays with a new stereo system and steps in when the customer shows signs of needing more information or shows interest in buying the product.

ESP has already won endorsements from CNA, a national insurance provider, and Furniture.com, in addition to Consolidated Freightways. According to Beth Ludden, vice president of long-term care marketing for CNA, “We cannot conceive of a successful e-commerce strategy which doesn’t involve the participation of our long-term care specialists, to proactively reach out to qualified prospects and agents who are visiting our Web site, and assist them on a more personal level.”

NewChannel, based in Redwood City, California, is a privately held company founded in 1996 to focus on linking salespeople and customers on the Internet through e-commerce transactions.

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