SHOPPING IN TONGUES
Despite improvements by online merchants, many would-be buyers still abandon their shopping carts, often because they can’t get the infor-mation they need. Enter LivePerson Inc.’s Live Chat, which allows e-tailers to communicate with shoppers in real time using text-based chat.

“Maybe they’re wondering what kind of gold is in that bracelet,” explains CEO and founder Robert LoCascio. “They want an answer instantly, and we hope they’ll buy instantly.”

LivePerson Inc. boasts 3,000 clients in some 50 countries, including Ameritrade, Neiman Marcus, and eBay. With its new foreign-language messaging service, LoCascio says, speakers of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Spanish can get answers in their native tongues.

At Tokyo Star Bank, senior managing director Robert Michael Berardy reports an uptick in new relationships opened via the bank’s Web site. “Customers tell us they like the experience,” says Berardy. “It’s friendly, informative, and personal.”

Expanding the linguistic menu already has paid dividends, among them a liaison with QVC, the retailing juggernaut whose iQVC Web site is highly popular in Germany. “We wouldn’t have even gotten that business without being able to serve customers in German,” LoCascio says.