April 24, 2010

Olark – Instantly Chat with Your Website Visitors

Olark is an application that can help any business improve its online sales by introducing the one key element of in-store shopping that’s missing from most web-based retail—human interaction. The application gives companies an easy way to integrate live chat via instant messenger into any website in just a matter of minutes. Then, when a shopper arrives at the site, a company representative can assist the customer in finding whatever products he or she is looking and answering any questions that may come up.

Without any complicated software to install on your site, getting set up with Olark is a snap. Decide whether to add a few lines of Olark’s JavaScript to your site’s code or just include a basic link that users can click on to communicate with an associate. From there, you’ll need to choose which instant messenger service you prefer to use—Olark works with all the most popular clients, including GTalk, iChat, and Meebo—and customize the look of the application’s messaging widget to better blend in with your site. Once you connect with Olark through an instant messenger account, you’ll be able to check out your buddy list to see all the visitors who are currently browsing your site at any time. From there, you can decide whether to reach out initially with a helpful IM or to let your shoppers come to you for advice and recommendations.

For companies with more visitors than one staffer can handle, Olark makes it easy for multiple operators to chat with visitors at once. Operators have access to important information about each shopper, such as where the visitor is located and how they were referred to the website, as well as chat transcripts to increase the odds of an effective sales effort. Olark is easy to integrate into any website and simple to use, which is why online retailers would be well advised to check it out.

Practical Uses:

  • Help a customer find the perfect dress for an upcoming event
  • Give out sizing advice to customers shopping for clothes
  • Use visitor location data to better target certain shoppers
  • Create relationships with shoppers visiting your site

Insider Tips:

  • Use CSS to customize the Olark widget on your site
  • Upgrade accounts to allow multiple operators to help customers at once
  • View detailed reports and statistics about each visitor to your site
  • Use Olark from your Blackberry or iPhone

What we liked:

  • Both the shoppers and the companies themselves can benefit from Olark
  • Detailed tutorials simplify the process of adding Olark’s JavaScript to your site
  • Users can gather visitor information even when they’re not online to answer questions
  • Ability to access chat transcripts with important information at a later date

What we didn’t like:

  • Nothing


Company Info:

  • Launched: August 2009
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Palo Alto, California
  • Founded by: Zach Steindler, Roland Osborne, Ben Congleton, and Matt Pizzimenti
  • Web site:


  • Bronze plan is $9/month
  • Gold plan is $29/month
  • Platinum plan is $69/month
  • Ultimate plan can be negotiated based on needs


  1. thanks for making Olark the cloud app of the day! Another great thing about Olark that most people don’t know is that we always have our own engineers manning our live chat! So when you come to us for help, you’re talking to someone who built the product.

    – Jason Hitchcock

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