Things have changed.
Consumer expectations around their purchasing habits are evolving rapidly. Many more purchase transactions are now taking place online. This transition from bricks and mortar to online is only going to accelerate as time goes on.
“In the US, it is predicted that e-commerce sales will climb by 18% to reach $709.78 billion in 2020.”1 – Tech Crunch, June 2020
Leading brands are reacting very aggressively to protect their revenue streams and, in some cases, their very existence. They are looking for ways to optimize their e-commerce platforms.
How does e-commerce adapt?
Consumers are increasingly more comfortable buying products and services through a brand’s website. Today however, buying online is very different from the in-store experience that most of us have come to appreciate. We like the fact that we can ask a salesperson questions. We also appreciate them asking us questions to ensure that they fully understand what we are looking for, how we are going to use it, and even how much we are prepared to invest in it. Unfortunately, most brands’ websites are rows and rows of product descriptions, specs and pictures. The ability to navigate and purchase with confidence is compromised.
Enter Intelligent Guided Selling (IGS)
IGS is a Software-as-a-Service offering that seamlessly integrates with a brands’ e-commerce platform to help consumers navigate a wide or complex product range and make informed purchase decisions. Using dynamic questions, IGS provides unique shopping experiences with a strong focus on each individual customer’s mindset. It’s designed with the consumer at its core, humanizing the online shopping experience and bridging the gap between an in-store shopping experience and an online experience.
A consumer lands on a brand’s website, the guided selling platform engages the consumer and asks a series of dynamic questions, each of which is asked based on the answer provided to the previous question. The purpose of the dynamic questioning is to understand what brings them to the site, who they are and what they are looking to accomplish. Traditional personalization engines do not accomplish this because a mother coming to a retailer’s site to buy a gift for a friend’s child has a very different need and expectation than when she logged on two weeks ago shopping for herself. The key to the service is the dynamic effort used to understand the current purchase interest and to clearly understand what the best possible recommendation should be based on the available choices from that brand. As a consumer answers each question, machine learning studies the answers and both presents the right next question, just like a retail store associate would, and also consults the range of products available that align to the consumers’ stated interest and objectives and begins preparing an assortment of recommendations. Those recommendations are then presented to the shopper based on the relevancy each item has with what the consumer shared in the journey. Both singular products and product bundles can be presented to the customer. The customer can choose to ‘add to cart’, which takes the customer right back to the brand’s website to complete the purchase, or they can e-mail the recommendations to themselves to make that decision and purchase later.
What types of brands benefit from IGS?
As you might imagine, not all brands can effectively leverage intelligent guided selling. High velocity, low cost products seldom benefit from this level of engagement. However, those products that are higher in price point, potentially more technical in nature, those that have a number of options within a brands’ portfolio, or those items where making the wrong selection can be frustrating all have the ability to utilize this software to enhance the purchase experience, reduce returns and boost brand loyalty.
Why do brands implement IGS platforms?
There are three reasons that brands implement customer journey software into their websites. The first is that just like an in-store retail experience a truly well configured journey creates a personal, human connection between the brand and the consumer. The customer feels valued because the brand wants to help them get it right, to find and purchase the correct item that perfectly aligns to their needs. The second reason is the very real impact to business performance that online customer journeys provide. In every instance, the implementation of a well-designed customer journey increases conversion rates. In addition, if the appropriate planning has been put into it, up sell and cross sell across the full range of available items is greater. Both of these outcomes improve total sales and profits. The third reason is the sheer volume of consumer behavior and interest data that can be captured by monitoring and recording all of the answers to the questions and the resulting purchases made by customers. There is tremendous strategic insight available to brands who think about this correctly and leverage the data properly.
Leading brands are adopting this technology into their e-commerce ecosystems and seeing tremendous results. If we can answer questions about the service, please let us know. Any member of our team would be delighted to discuss it further. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.