Ecommerce Shopping Assistant

We recently announced our monthly hack nights, where we welcome designers and developers to the Meanbee office to work on side-projects, test out and discuss ideas with others.

At our first evening, two of the Meanbee developers experimented with the idea of creating a virtual shopping assistant. The requirements were to be able to mimic the experience that a customer would receive in a physical store. In this scenario, a customer would be welcomed by a shopping assistant who they could then discuss their requirements with and then be directed around the store.

The closest the we can currently get to this experience in the online world is a live chat service. This does not adequately replace the real-world experience as its functionality is limited.

Then arrives WebRTC, a new web technology that provides Skype-style functionality within a web browser. In our solution, we use a JavaScript wrapper called TogetherJS which provides a way for customers and store owners to text chat, voice chat and follow each as they browse around the website store.

In our example, a customer sends a support request and is then joined by a shopping assistant. They can then discuss via chat. Both can then browse the store and the other is updated with the new location. Both users can also see where the other's mouse is on the page.

Ecommerce Shopping Assistant

The first version of the extension is a proof-of-concept and is available on GitHub. In addition to the experience on the frontend, it provides an administration area to see support requests from customers. A customer can then be joined.

For further development we would recommend an assignment system so that customer invitations can be assigned to different administration users as well being able to mark as "handled" or "completed."

For the voice chat, a STUN server needs to be set up and configured in order to provide the voice chat functionality.