Guided selling is a simple way for eCommerce retailers to provide an interactive and personalized shopping experience for consumers.
It’s based on a lightweight software script that plugs into your eCommerce website to deliver big results by quickly guiding shoppers to the products that best suit their requirements.
Let’s look at how product finders and guided selling work in a little more detail, and why this approach provides benefits for both consumers and eCommerce retailers.
What is a product finder?
An eCommerce product finder is designed to ask a website visitor some key questions to help guide them towards the most suitable products.
It’s also known as guided selling, and it’s an AI-driven process that helps narrow down product choices based on the user's input, adding speed and convenience for the shopper and increased conversions, plus a lower number of returns for the retailer.
In some instances, a customer may already know exactly what they want, but the vast majority of visitors to a website leave without making a purchase.
Let’s look at an example. Say you are interested in buying protein powder as you want to start working out and building muscle. You have heard protein helps muscles build and recover but you don’t know much about the products on the market or what you need for your goals. A typical protein powder website has a lot of different powders designed for different kinds of activities. Weight loss, muscle building, recovery, endurance, and many more. In Dialogtrail the solution works by guiding the customer to the correct product for their needs, so they don’t leave the website without getting a solution or making a purchase.
Read more about how Proteinbolaget guides their customers with the help of Dialogtrail.
There are various factors that influence the high non-purchase rate, and product finders are particularly useful when there is a large product selection, or the customer needs guidance in order to buy, for example when buying something technical like a washing machine and they are unsure on how many rotations per minute they require for the machine.
This type of guided selling is very beneficial to the consumer. Research from McKinsey shows that 71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76 percent of consumers get frustrated when this option is not provided. Seventy-two percent said they expect the businesses they buy from to recognize them as individuals and know their interests.
Consumers associate this with being made to feel special and respond positively when it's clear brands have an investment in a relationship, not just a transaction.
Personalized communications result in a positive brand image amongst consumers and it plays a key role in how likely people are to buy from a brand. This is especially effective in driving brand loyalty and repeat purchases.
Research shows that personalization most often drives a revenue lift of around 10 to 15 percent, and as companies become better at applying data to grow customer knowledge and treat people as individuals, they see a correlation in increased sales.
A product finder is a great way to add another layer of personalization at a key brand touchpoint to help build long-term loyalty.
How does a product finder fit into the customer journey, and why should we implement one?
Guided selling is becoming increasingly popular for the eCommerce sector because the consumer demand for a more interactive online shopping experience clearly exists. From an eCommerce store operator's point of view, competition is fierce and just a click away, so engaging visitors quickly is appealing.
Let’s look at a few of the key topics around why a product finder can be useful and how it fits into the customer shopping journey we see online today.
A product finder can:
- Remove issues associated with choice overload
- Help deliver customer-centric web design and user experiences
- Lower returns and improve customer satisfaction
- Capture useful data for marketing, retargeting, and increasing sales
We will discuss each one of these in a little more detail below.
Research has shown that choice overload is a real thing. Overwhelming choices can make customers abandon a purchase but they can also leave people feeling anxious due to an established behavioral science principle.
An overload of options is not the only reason consumers have a hard time completing a purchase. If the choice is made difficult because of time pressure, it’s a complex choice, for example, tech products or cars, or when the products are highly differentiated from one another, the shopper can struggle to commit to spending their money.
Another issue is customers who are not educated on the market yet or consumers who have no real preference for the product they are buying.
A famous study shows there is a sweet spot between the number of choices you offer consumers that affects the purchase completion rate.
Researchers at Columbia University found that when shoppers were given a choice of 24 samples of jam, 60 percent would stop and try a sample, but only 3 percent made a purchase. Reducing the number of jam samples available to 6 resulted in 40 percent of shoppers trying a sample, but 30% of these people bought jam.
Guided selling works much like this study. It is able to narrow down choices for consumers by taking their goals into account and presenting a refined selection of products to fit their needs.
We understand that if there are too many choices it can be overwhelming. There can be too much choice on your own website for a user to navigate on their own. Users also have the choice of millions of websites to visit so it really can have a detrimental effect. A product finder is a great way to capture attention, keep people on your website, and ensure they find what they need quickly.
The product finder can also be used to highlight key differences between products that appear similar, making the purchase decision run more smoothly for buyers
Customer-Centric Website design and UX
Today customer-centric website design is key to the user experience. The design choices of your website influences customer retention and how many new site visitors bounce from your website. Building a customer-centric website means making the site navigation intuitive and easy to use, and using a modern clean design, that is responsive and mobile-friendly. A customer-centric website should also clearly display information and offer a clear call to action.
Guided selling with a product finder helps the user journey through your website and really improves the shopping experience for the customer.
Just like in a brick and mortar retail store where related items are stocked in isles or sections, a product finder allows you to show related items to the customer which allows for upselling, cross-selling without overwhelming consumers with choice. This tactic can significantly increase the average order value on your eCommerce website. At the same time, it offers a more convenient and faster experience for the end-user when shopping online.
Reducing the number of returns
Returns are one of the biggest issues online retailers face. A study completed in 2020 by the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail found that 18 percent of online sales are returned, while it was reported in an article on the future of online shopping published by Forbes Magazine that the figure could be as high as 30 percent.
These figures don’t just represent a problem for eCommerce providers, but also show that the current system is often failing consumers as they are not finding products that are suitable for them.
Guided selling tools are being implemented to help consumers with recommendations in order to reduce the volume of returned items.
With so many choices available between products, narrowing down the choice based on the user's criteria ultimately means a better match between their needs and the product they order. This strategic approach can be used to reduce the volume of returns in all industries.
Marketing and retargeting campaigns
Conversions are key to maximizing the potential sales on your eCommerce store, and making more sales helps to capitalize on the time and money you have invested to drive customers to your website via marketing campaigns.
Retargeting communications are now a key part of eCommerce sales. As we have discussed many websites see a high non-purchase rate, and part of this is because consumers are now able to research products online and visit multiple sources to gather information and compare products before buying.
Once you have a lead it makes sense to try and convert them into a buyer if you know they are in the market for a product you sell.
In Dialogtrail this is done by built-in data capture so you get to understand your leads better and what type of products they are interested in. So even if they don’t complete a purchase, the data captured during interactions in the product finder makes follow-up email marketing and sales campaigns much more targeted and effective, delivering a revenue uplift.
Of course, some consumers can feel that when websites and marketing are too personalized it feels intrusive and overwhelming. However, product bundles, recommendations, and upsells featured in the product finder itself feel much more natural and intuitive to shoppers.
Final Thoughts: Why do you need a product finder?
Today we’ve looked at the evolution of online shopping, the customer's desire for more personalized recommendations, and a faster way to find the products they need. Shoppers miss the human touch online and product finders can deliver interaction while preventing choice overload. For eCommerce store owners a product finder enhances upselling while reducing returns and increasing order values and overall revenues. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for eCommerce businesses and the consumer.
Dialogtrail is a lightweight product finder that can be designed to fit your brand style with no coding required. Products can be uploaded and connected to the software and then automatically update in real-time as you adjust your inventory.
Our guided selling tool enables brands to deliver more personalized shopping experiences, and complete more sales. Find out more about our product finder software or contact us for a product demo today!