How home furnishing brands are leading in the online shopping experience

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As fall approaches, homeware and furniture brands are highlighting their best Scandi hygge, nomadic prints and grey hues. As ever, the season trends have been unveiled on thousands of furniture and homeware sites; ready to be snapped up by eager home-lovers and design enthusiasts.

As with many other consumer products, technology continues to play a major role in helping consumers make a choice in the home and furniture retail space.

“Worldwide online furniture and homewares sales are expected to be close to $200 billion in 2019.” — Statista

A lucrative and ever-growing market, fashion retailers are also starting to realize the potential. Urban Outfitters, Asos, Zara and H&M are just a few of many who are now selling furniture, textiles, ceramics and home accessories online. With this increased competition, traditional furniture and homeware brands have been put to the test.

We take a look at how some brands are performing well to champion the likes of fashion retailers, by providing a personalized service which online consumers love.

Product Advisors: MADE and Dulux

MADE and Dulux take personalized advice online and assist their online shoppers to find their perfect products.

With just a few simple questions, the user provides valuable information about their personal taste and preferences. The product advisor then finds recommendations which are personalized to suit the user's needs. Product advisors can also be great fun for your users to interact with, as they add that special touch to the online shopping experience.

63% of consumers want personalized recommendations." — RILA

Without product advisors, users can become easily confused amongst the thousands of products a website has to offer. By minimizing the amount that users see and focusing in on what matters to their individual needs, companies increase their chances of getting a sale.

MADE Sofas, Furniture & Homeware — https://www.made.com/

1. "Discover products that match your taste"

Source: MADE Product Advisor

2. "Like 7 images that feel like home"

What we love:

  • ✓ users are provided with an array of images which portray different styles and inspiration.

  • ✓ the social media-style interface is interactive and allows users to easily scroll and give an image the thumbs up.

  • ✓ by providing visuals instead of words, it also makes it quicker for the user to envision their ideal home.

3. "Your style is..."

What we love:

  • ✓ the feature to email ourselves or social share our results with friends.

  • ✓ personalized color, material and print recommendations

4. "Products for you..."

What we love:

  • ✓ personalized product recommendations which suit the user's taste.

  • ✓ products shown within different settings to further help the user imagine their perfect home.

Dulux Paint — https://www.dulux.co.uk/en

1. "Welcome to your world in color"

Source: Dulux Product Advisor

What we love:

  • ✓ Dulux place their Product Guide as the very first thing a user sees when entering their website.

  • ✓ the Product Guide caters to all types of customers: those who already know what they want and those who require assistance.

2. "Pick your color palette"

What we love:

  • ✓ visually appealing

  • ✓ users can state the finer details such as location, surface and finish.

3. "Popular colors and colors to be mixed"

What we love:

  • ✓ practical tips such as primary color options, as well as colors to be mixed

  • ✓ only shown the color which we stated we were interested in

Image Search: Wayfair

Image searches help users to find products via images instead of text. They work by using query by image content (QBIC) and content-based visual information retrieval (CBVIR). Users simply upload an image they like or feel inspired by and the website search engine delivers similar products available within their product assortment. In addition, if users don't know the name of a product but simply have an image — it's a perfect way for them to identify a product name and get more information.

“Image and voice-activated search may make up 50% of all searches by 2020” — Absolunet

As the world becomes more visual and photo sharing sites like Instagram become even more popular, the image search is something which will continue to grow; eventually becoming the conventional way to search.

Wayfair Furniture & Homeware — https://www.wayfair.com/

What we love:

  • ✓ image attributes instead of descriptive metadata to search — helpful if the user doesn't know the product name or wants to find visually similar looking products

  • ✓ user-friendly interface and easy for mobile users who can upload images from their phone galleries

Live Chat and Virtual Asssitants: Nest & Dulux

Live chat functions and virtual assistants mean that you can provide your users instant feedback and support and at no extra cost for them.

"38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support." — kayako

In comparison with traditional phone support and customer hotlines, live chat and virtual assistants are much more convenient for the majority of customers.

"42% of customers prefer live chat compared to 23% for email and 16% for social media or forums." — JD Power.

Live chat can provide answers quickly and has the ability to mimic natural style conversations which you would have in-store with a human sales-assistant.

Virtual assistants are the automated version of live chat tools. No man-power required: just AI and machine learning, a virtual assistant can advise users within seconds and quickly point them to the products they are looking for.

Nest Furniture & Homeware — https://www.nest.co.uk/

What we love:

  • ✓ by showing the face behind the chat operators, it makes the tool much more approachable and personal.

  • ✓ the integrated search engine is a more engaging way to provide answers to FAQs

Dulux Paint — https://www.dulux.co.uk/en

What we love:

  • ✓ users get an answer within a few clicks.

  • ✓ users have a live chat option, should the virtual assistant not give them sufficient enough advice.

Wondering why your customers are leaving your website early or simply don't make it to the cart? It could be down to the lack of personalization on your website.

Personalization tools such as Product Guides, sophisticated search engines and virtual assistants can help your customers, your customer support team and best of all, your revenue!

Find out how your company can implement personalized advice for your users

Contact Us

How to recommend the right products to your online shoppers

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These days, customers are flooded with masses of product information and promotions. In most purchase decisions, the choice is so overwhelming that they don't even know what to buy anymore.

To prevent customers from leaving your website dissatisfied, intelligent recommendation behavior helps you to create a personalized and user-friendly shopping experience. Displaying the right products or services to the right customers is not only key in terms of providing truly relevant content but is also the key to success in winning and retaining customers while also successfully engaging with them.

We are all familiar with the more conventional ways of trying to guide our customers through our e-commerce website. For example, 90% of all online shops have a faceted search engine or standard menu and category navigation bar. It's something a customer simply expects to see — but as e-commerce develops and retailers sell more online, customers require more advice and guidance.

Artificial intelligence is transforming retail to make online shopping more efficient and personalized with the help of predictive analytic tools and Guided Selling systems such as Product Guides and Digital Advisors.

In this blog post, we will go into:

  • Why conventional search systems such as faceted search engines don't quite make the cut in the advancing world of e-commerce
  • How you can discover whether your website or shop has suitable mechanisms in place to provide customers with good recommendations
  • The steps you can take to improve your shop's user experience and navigation
  • The latest kinds of recommender systems available to you on the market right now

Conventional search systems: Out of touch with your customers

The faceted search

Source: Sony

Unenticing and filled with technical detail which not every customer will be familiar with, this faceted search provides no assistance to customers who are unsure of what they need or want.

The faceted search is also a distant resemblance from how humans would naturally interact and converse since it is unable to advise customers on what product to buy.


Menu/category navigation

Source: Sony

Naturally, a must-have on any website, the menu/category navigation helps to filter out different kinds of products but is unable to advise any further. Once the user has said which kind of product they are looking for, they reach a dead-end.


What is a good recommendation?

It all starts with understanding your customers and being able to map out the customer journey from their perspective. This way you can fulfill the requirements of every individual customer and provide them with intelligent product recommendations which are relevant to them.

Technically, it is complex to achieve good recommendation behavior but if you take it down a level, you can think about it in a less-abstract manner. Imagine your most charming sales rep. from one of your stores. They know exactly how to transform any customer's requirements into valuable recommendations that the customer will most likely buy.

Good recommendation behavior means that products or solutions are displayed in a results list, presenting the most suitable products first. The products you recommend should not only suit the customer's individual needs but also support your company's sales and marketing strategy.

An overview and analysis of different kinds of product search and recommender systems and what they achieve.


Does my e-commerce site already provide good enough recommendations to my customers?

Check for H.A.C.K!

Human Factor

Does your e-commerce site mirror real-life human interaction and conversation?

For example, does a user feel like they are being provided with advice and guidance, despite shopping online and not in-store?

Analytics

Do you have any way of tracking the performance of your product search?

Can you extract useful data and analytics from it, which not only provides you with valuable consumer insights but also allows you to make strategic changes to your recommendation behavior?

Conversion

Are your customers converting?

Check whether important product features are highlighted. Are there a nice combination of product images and other content, such as: key facts, user reviews, several product images etc.? These factors can assist in pushing a customer to the cart since they create trust and demonstrate expertise.

How many products do you show? Do you provide customers with a personalized, comprised list or do you show as many product listings as possible leading them to become overwhelmed?

Knowledge

Do you have power over what recommendations you provide customers with?

Are you able to control which recommendations are relevant in which situation? Or is the recommender solely trained on past usage data?


Website with Guided Selling

Source: VAUDE Tent Adviser

Users don't need to search far and wide to find the most suitable products

Users with no prior knowledge about what they are looking for can be easily guided and advised

Users are presented with product explanations which inform them which products would suit their needs best and why

Users are provided with a comprised list which is personalized and only shows the most relevant recommendations


Website without Guided Selling

Source: North Face

    All products are mixed together so the user has to figure out which would suit their needs best

    Filters such as weight (lbs) and floor area (sq ft) are too specific and many users would not know what size or weight they require

    The order of the results list is not personalized to the individual user's needs


How do you build a Guided Selling recommendation system?


1. Brainstorm

  • Put yourself in the mind of your customer
  • Map out their shopping journey from when they enter your online shop until they reach the checkout
  • What information do they require when considering a purchase?
  • Consider the complexity of your product. If your products are more personal and less dependent on the specifics, you will require questions which focus more on personality traits and behavioral tendencies. It could be anything from fashion products, perfume, books, home and lifestyle products, toys — or maybe even holidays.

A tree diagram which maps out part of a customer's journey and possible thought process when buying a camera.


2. Apply

  • Apply this knowledge to create a question flow and product recommendations for your Product Guide
  • Include relevant attributes, such as personal requirements, which device type is appropriate to the user, sizing, price ranges, preferred brands etc.
  • Find a software company who can build your Product Guide. They will need to combine your consumer knowledge with your product data, in order to make a well-functioning guide which you can easily integrate into your website.

A completed Product Guide designed to advise people when buying a new camera


3. Track

  • Optimize your Product Guide with analytics tools and track your success
  • Find out which products people buy most with the Product Guide
  • Where do people click and where do they drop off?

Example of data sample taken from one day period of the Product Guide after going live. It shows intense usage with 16 actions per visit and a long visit duration with over 5 minutes


Transferring consumer insights into more personalized recommendations

Consumer insights extracted from Product Guides help companies with future targeting since the recommendations provide useful information, such as: purchase and returns history, preferred brands, size and measurements, preferred colors etc. This allows you to offer more personalization through cross-selling recommendations, more insightful email marketing campaigns and landing pages which provide relevant recommendations.

Cross-selling recommendations — the personal shopper you never had

Source: Asos

Personalized recommendations and styling advice calculated from the user's buying/browser history are great upselling features and allow you to showcase more products which your customer is bound to love.


Email Marketing

Source: Easyjet

Email marketing based on a customer's purchase history, browser history or user segment data is the ideal way to tempt customers back into your shop.


Landing Page Recommendations

Source: Samsung

Welcome new customers onto your website. Creating landing pages for popular products allows you to attract new customers and increase traffic to your shop.



Out with the old and in with the new; start building a modern recommender system today

Find out which suits your company's needs best

Contact Us

Tags: Recommendation Behavior Product Guides

Competing against Amazon: the SMB Checklist

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It’s plain to see why Amazon is leading the e-commerce race. Their excellent user-experience, varied product assortment and innovative means of drawing in smaller, more diverse businesses through FBA has allowed them to target people of all backgrounds, interests and shopping behaviors.

Amazon is accountable for over 37% of the USA's annual retail e-commerce and has over 2 million sellers.

This makes things difficult for traditional small and medium-sized businesses operating outside of the Amazon marketplace.

Smaller businesses are finding it tricky to stand out and charge competitive prices. However, the impersonal nature of shopping on Amazon has allowed SMBs to have a competitive edge in many other areas of business.

Thanks to advances in digital technology, accelerated by huge corporations like Amazon, it’s left customers wanting more! With an increase in customer expectations, people are searching for shopping experiences with a special touch that Amazon is simply too large to provide.

This blog post will demonstrate prime examples of when SMBs overtook Amazon in providing customers with better user experience.

1. Find your niche

To create trust, it’s important you prove that you know your stuff. The easiest way to do this as an SMB is to find your niche and focus on what you are good at. If you do something you believe in and feel passionate about, your energy and efforts will pay off and customers will feel inspired.

Focusing on too many products with limited resources and knowledge makes everything more unmanageable and distorts your vision.

"A jack of all trades is a master of none."

Think about the best kind of restaurants — they are always the ones with limited choice on the menu since it’s impossible to produce good-quality without specialization.

Specialize and you will be able to deliver — take too much on and you will most likely hinder productivity and lose against your competition.

With specialization, you can easily create a unique brand personality and win on content marketing by delivering personalized messages which resonate with your target audience.

Source: Bombas — the performance sock specialist

Although Amazon’s momentous success is mainly down to its huge product assortment — even they started off specializing in only books, taking the strategic decision to expand to other products in 2000.

Even though Amazon has the money to make a large product assortment work effectively, customers are still not 100% satisfied. Users are becoming easily frustrated and impatient by having to trawl through so many products and it’s simply leaving them confused as to which product to buy.

Thanks to excellent user-experience, Amazon scored a 13% conversion rate when getting users to the checkout in 2019.

2. Care about the needs of your users

Source: Uncommon Goods

Caring about what your users want can be difficult without personally speaking to them. However, artificial intelligence can do this for you.

AI gets to know your users in numerous ways and can identify patterns in consumer data and behavior which makes it more effective than a human could ever be.

  • Subconsciously: AI can reach conclusions by simply tracking your users' clicks and analysis of data sets.
  • Consciously: Integrating Guided Selling solutions such as Product Guides and Gift Finders into your online shop allow your customers to directly interact on your website. Customers are asked a few questions and their answers are analyzed through AI so that they can be intelligently led to their most ideal product.

With the data collected from customers, you can track and optimize the success of your recommendation behavior through an analytics tool. Measurable trackers also help you to observe your customers' shopping habits, purchase history and wish-lists. This allows you to provide more personalized and targeted recommendations in the future.

Most analytics tools will give a comprised visitor overview, entailing: user ID, user journey, geographical location, clicks and duration spent on your site. Such valuable kind of data helps a business to gain better insight into what their customers want and gives them the know-how to target them better through numerous kinds of recommendations.

Source: excentos analytics - data based on one day period

3. Provide a top-quality customer service

Source: Hipmunk

Rising expectations mean customers want immediate interaction. There is no time to lose when thousands of competitors are out there ready to pounce on your customers.

With conversational agents and chatbots, you can provide your customers with a 24/7 customer service meaning they are never left waiting with unanswered questions.

Chatbots are made up of natural language processing and machine learning and can also help businesses to improve their interaction with customers by recommending products and providing them with advice.

4. Detailed Product Information

Source: Bombas

Since Amazon is made up of millions of sellers, there is naturally no continuity in how transparent and detailed product listings are.

Without detailed product information, users can easily make uninformed purchases which they will want to return. Product descriptions should be informative, providing the necessary specifics as well as the value proposition.

Customers want to know how your product is going to enrich their lives, rather than the technical details behind the making of it. The more benefits you provide the customer with, the more they are likely to fantasize about having your product in their hand and add it to their shopping cart.

Source: Method Body

Naturally, products of technical complexity. e.g. a TV, require more specific details such as measurements but always keep in mind that everything on your website should look as appealing as possible, since it is one of your biggest marketing tools.

Being open with your customers about exact product details will foster long-term customer loyalty and reduce your return rates meaning one up for you over Amazon!

5. Invest in good product presentation

Source: Woodsman Beard Company

Images are everything, especially as the world of consumerism becomes more superficial. The more visualization a customer has, the better and the more likely they are to purchase.

Your online shop should tell your brand's story. Within seconds of a user entering your shop, they should immediately have a feel for what your company is trying to do.

Product videos make a story easier to tell and are enticing for users which can assist them in making informed buying decisions.

Source: Woodsman Beard Company

6. Provide personalized recommendations

Source: The Perfume Shop

Let’s be honest, we would all love to have a full-time personal shopper who would advise us and pick out the products best suited to our needs and desires.

But how can you replicate or compete with the service provided in traditional brick and mortar stores?

With Guided Selling solutions such as Product Guides and Gift Finders, you certainly can!

Guided Selling solutions talk the customer through the online shopping experience, making it more personalized. They give users more control to dictate what they want and don't want in a product, just like they would in-store. What they like and don't like, what are their interests, personality traits, favorite colors etc.

For more help modernizing your online shop, get in touch!

Contact Us

Tags: Customer Experience Shopping Experience

The 5 Things Generation Y Shoppers Expect

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"Millennials want it all and they want it now." - Guven Ordun, Research Gate

Millennials, Generation Y - buzzwords which we hear all the time. The primary target group aged between 22-35 years old have certain expectations in mind when they go shopping and their demands continue to grow exponentially.

Some prevalent trends which grace this tech-savvy generation include the influence of social media, aesthetics and more recently, the importance of protecting the environment and fighting for social justice.

This blog post will look into the five main contributors in successful targeting of the millennial shopper.

  • Social Media
  • Inspirational Content Marketing
  • Digital Product Advice and Guided Selling Solutions
  • Customer Service
  • Omnichannel accessibility

1. Social Media

Source: Facebook PlayStation

Top of the list has to be social media. Generation Y spends over 2 hours on social media per day and this phenomenon is not slowing down any time soon. Social media also continues to develop as something more than networking amongst friends and has become the go-to medium for people to be inspired, shop, leave reviews, interact and share experiences.

Thousands of shops and retailers have started investing serious money in social media to attract more customers and increase sales, and why wouldn't they? Social media is the holy grail for marketers and has made the targeting of all ages, genders, personalities and demographics so much easier.

PRODUCT ENDORSEMENT AND INFLUENCERS

With the rise of Instagram, millennials have proven that they are crazy for visual content and are easily influenced by what their favorite celebrities are doing, wearing, eating or where they are going on holiday.

Take for example Meghan Markle's Sarah Flint ballet flats, which were spotted online and consequently sold out minutes later. People feel good about themselves when they know that they are wearing the same shoes as an actress, sports star or influential personality and if they are die-hard fans, then they will undoubtedly flock to the shops and buy every product which they see their idol wearing; regardless of whether they can truly afford it or not.

Source: Sarah Flint https://www.sarahflint.com/

Source: Meghan Markle Style Blog http://meghanstyle.org/

There are influencers in every industry - you just have to find them. Previously, businesses would only invest in influencers with at least 500k followers but this prerequisite no longer exists and companies see value in gifting even those with smaller numbers.

Source: Instagram @tagheuer

SOCIAL MEDIA SHOPPING

Source: Instagram @uniqlo

Promoting your products via social media is an easy way to get a wide reach and directly connect with your customers. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram also have new shopping features which allow you to insert product tags and scan barcodes which link directly to the checkout page. Competitions, giveaways, coupons and vouchers are also appreciated by customers and allow them to get involved and interact with your brand on their favorite social media channel.

2. Inspirational Content Marketing

Source: Instagram @gopro

ONLINE CONTENT

Hand in hand with social media comes good quality content. Inspiring content which users love will gather support and attention from genuine followers onto your page, as well as save you some money on paid-ads. Target groups and personas are not limited to gender, demographics, lifestyle choices and income but also generation. Generation takes all factors into account and since people from the same generation have lived through the same events, experienced advances in technology together, share similar values, etc - they are an ideal target group.

Visual content should be of professional quality and written content should engage the reader, maybe teach them something new or leave a positive impression on them. Give your readers something to think about, something to discuss or simply something to make them smile.

Unfortunately, not all businesses have the budget to invest in marketing resources, however, free copyright websites such as pexels and unsplash provide a large range of professional, copyright-free images and you can find freelance content writers who charge at an hourly rate to provide you content as and when you may need it.

Content which is in vogue at the moment relates to philanthropical issues of social injustice as well as protecting the environment and discussion of ethics and sustainability.

Source: Instagram @thebodyshop

Source: Instagram @thefemalecompany

OFFLINE CONTENT:

Of course online retail is huge and vital for survival but brick and mortar businesses are still not dead and there are measures to be taken to keep them alive. For example, traditional storefronts and displays have become outdated and customers are on the search for exciting and interesting designs which provide them with more than a shopping experience. The kind of experience which is "Instagrammable". Take the example of American fashion retailer Abercrombie&Fitch who across all their stores worldwide have topless male models at the entrance for excitable customers waiting in the queues outside to get their photo taken.

Other popular and innovative in-store trends include: huge flower garlands, interactive gaming stations, in-store DJs, pop-up food stalls and in-store devices which can be linked up to the internet to provide a more fluid shopping experience for not only your customers, but your staff too.

3. Digital Product Advice & Guided Selling Solutions

Douglas Gift Finder https://bit.ly/2HBNunv

ONLINE GUIDED SELLING SOLUTIONS

Generation Y are complaining that their online shopping experience isn't personalized enough. Customers lack good-quality advice online and in a world of choice overload, they are becoming easily frustrated and consequently leaving your shop empty-handed. Many online shops have become overcrowded with products which are difficult to navigate from the user's point of view.

Product Guides act like a virtual sales assistant who can give you advice and guide you to the right product. They do this by asking a few quick and simple questions which AI-driven Guided Selling technology uses to provide you with intelligent recommendations based on your individual needs.

OFFLINE GUIDED SELLING SOLUTIONS

Product advisers are also useful accompaniments in-store and can aide your employees when trying to help customers find their perfect product while also giving them a better product overview. In-store Product Guides can also be used as a helping hand in your busier stores or at peak times. For example, instead of allowing customers to stand and wait to speak with the next available member of staff, they can receive advice independently with the self-sufficient Product Guide.

4. Excellent Customer Service

Source: Apple

Customers tend to expect an answer straight away, 24 hours around the clock and thanks to advances in customer service tools, this is now possible! In addition to human exchange, you can also automate your customer service with online chatbots and troubleshooting guides. Chatbots and troubleshooting guides assist your business with out of hours requests as well as deal with issues which can save your support team valuable time.

5. Omnichannel Accessibility

Generation Y are workaholics who lead fast-paced and active lifestyles. They need access to your shop on every available device they own; from desktop to mobile, watch and IPad. Not only this, but they want it to work as smoothly on their phone as it would on their laptop. Omnichannel accessibility also means that your website is in sync across all channels and your customers can conveniently access everything your website has to offer regardless of the channel they are using.

So, what are the benefits of adapting to Generation Y's needs?

  • They are the largest generation in history
  • Predicted to become huge spenders
  • All are of legal age to buy any kind of product
  • All are of working age which means they probably have the disposable income to shop, shop, shop!

Find out how your business can implement the latest and most effective customer service strategies

Contact Us

Tags: Customer Loyalty Better Process Shopping Experience

Gift Finders: Find Suitable Gifts for Everyone this Easter

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Easter - the time for family, reflection and renewal. Surprise your current customers and engage new ones with the excentos Product Finder. Providing gift inspiration to your customers has never been so easy as with the excentos Workbench.

In this blog post, we showcase some of our favorite Gift Finders and explain why they work so well for all kinds of people, genders and age groups.

1. For the Chocoholics... because nothing screams Easter more than chocolate!

Take me to the Gift Finder: Chocolat Gift Finder

  • Hotel Chocolat

  • Chocolate Specialists

Hotel Chocolat is a luxury British chocolatier and cocoa grower. With over 130 shops, cafes and restaurants, three boutiques in Copenhagen and a hotel on their cocoa plantation in the Caribbean, Hotel Chocolat are revolutionizing the chocolate industry.

What do we think? This exquisite Gift Finder is oozing in irresistible temptation and an insatiable appetite for the best chocolatey gift. Its simplistic yet luxurious design perfectly compliments the Hotel Chocolat brand. Shopping for Easter eggs has never been so fun!

2. Treats for the kids

Take me to the Gift Finder: Mytoys Gift Finder

  • MyToys

  • Children's toy specialists

MyToys is Germany's leading retailer of children's toys and accessories and one of the 12 largest online shops in the country! They are a multi-channel retailer with 14 branches.

What do we think? The variety of themes and adorable images easily gets the personality of the child across to the buyer. This Gift Finder is also quite extensive, asking several questions about the recipient to ensure it delivers suitable and intelligent AI-driven recommendations. A win-win situation for both you and your customer. Your customer happily walks away with the perfect gift and you increase your sales.

Take me to the Gift Finder: Smythstoys Gift Finder

  • Smyth's Toys

  • Children's toy specialists

Smyth's is Ireland's largest toy store and a multinational chain provider of children's toys and entertainment products.

What do we think? The simple theme and colors perfectly fit the branding of a toy store and the graphic of the young boy brings life to the Gift Finder. It's also a great idea to offer users the chance to specify their maximum spend, especially when it comes to buying things like toys which we all know can easily leave a hole in our pocket. Additionally, by filtering out products which are not within the customer's price range, you can better highlight the products which they can afford and are more likely to buy.

3. For the book worms wanting a fresh read this spring...

Take me to the Gift Finder: Magazine Gift Finder

  • Magazine UK

  • The Magazine Specialists

Magazine UK is the UK's largest online subscription site for hundreds of magazines to suit everyone's preferences.

What do we think? It's always nice to receive advice and tips on what could be a good read. This cool Gift Finder asks about the recipient's personality which is always an important factor in finding the perfect gift.

4. For the whole family!

Take me to the Gift Finder: Gift Finder

  • Gifts.com

  • The Ultimate Gift Website

Gifts.com is an online shop selling a large assortment of products to suit anyone and everyone.

What do we think? These lovely images really capture the essence of everyone you could want to buy a gift for as well as the occasion to go with it. Since Gifts.com sell such a large amount of products which are suited to all kinds of people, it's important that they provide their customers with a support mechanism like a Product Finder which helps users to narrow down their search.

5. For the special ladies in our life

Take me to the Gift Finder: Douglas Gift Finder

  • Douglas

  • The Beauty Specialists

Douglas is a German perfume and cosmetics retailer with around 35,000 products in more than 1900 stores across Europe.

What do we think? Buying cosmetics online can sometimes be a challenge since you can't test it or smell it. The Douglas Gift Finder deals with this issue well by asking the right amount of questions. They also use a slider feature for people to specify their age which is a pretty important factor when buying cosmetic products but also great for usability as users don't need to insert any free text.

6. And let's of course not forget the special men in our life

Take me to the Gift Finder: Whiskey Gift Finder

  • The Whisky Exchange

  • The Whisky Specialists

The Whisky Exchange is one of the largest online retailers of whiskey, advising and serving thousands of people their favorite tipple every week.

What do we think? This Gift Finder is clearly more suited to whiskey lovers since the questions are more focused towards those who know what they are talking about. The concept, however, is great, since it's always helpful to receive advice before you buy with more higher-end products like spirits and liqueurs.

So, how can online Gift Finders benefit my business?

  • Have an edge over your competitors
  • Improve user experience - customers no longer need to feel frustrated by having too many options or a lack of online support.
  • Make online shopping more fun - Gift Finders are interactive and engaging for customers, helping them to discover great product recommendations.
  • Reduce return rates - when people receive the perfect gift then there is no need to send it back.

Start building your concept and provide your customers with gift inspiration.

Learn more about Product Finders

Tags: Customer Experience Recommendation Behavior Shopping Experience Product Finder

Ways to Reduce your Product Returns

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As you know, high return rates can be a real pet peeve for any online shop as well as have a detrimental effect on both margins and profit.

Leading retailers are already implementing numerous measures to try combat the masses of refunds and returns they receive every day. However, levels continue to remain high which is not only having a damaging effect on orders but also on business.

Of course, customers do sometimes have a good reason for returning one of your products: maybe they were sent the wrong one or maybe it was faulty. However, on more occasions than not, they are sent a product which doesn't fit or isn't how it was described; it is these kinds of reasons which can be easily avoided and save your business time and money. According to Narvar, 42% of buyers returned an online purchase within the past three months. These high numbers show that returning is the new fashion in which shoppers are taking advantage of free return policies by buying items in three different sizes with the intention of sending at least two back.

This blog post will explain why excentos Online Product Advisers better inform your customers about your products so they know exactly what they are buying and won't feel the need to return it.



1. It's all in the detail

Product Pages details

It is important that your product descriptions are written in detail as this will not only improve your SEO and make it easier for customers to find your products but will also inform them of the specific details which really matter. The customer can then ultimately decide whether that particular product fits their requirements or not. Things to include: color, size, fit, style, measurements, material, fabric, washing instructions, purpose etc. Is your product data complete and detailed? Don't worry if not - excentos can help you to clean up your data and ensure it's ready for making an optimal Product Guide.



2. Hitting the nail on the head

excentos Camera Guide

Pinpoint the exact products your customers love and use this knowledge to your advantage. With excentos Product Guides, you can provide your customers with intelligent recommendations which they are bound to love.



3. Finding the perfect fit

 Jeans Size Guide

For fashion brands and retailers, it is particularly important that you include vital information on size, color and style. It is also a good idea to try make this visual. Include sizing tables with unit conversions if you have international customers and try include photos of the product in every different color you offer. The excentos size matching feature takes factors such as body types, wearing habits and style into account and our color matcher uses image analysis algorithms to simplify the color search without confusing customers with different color names.



4. Data alone has no value

Product Rating

Pay attention to your usage data and draw conclusions from it. What does your typical customer profile look like? Which products are your customers buying? Do your customers cross-buy across certain products? Which of your products have good and bad customer reviews? Utilizing your data to provide better product recommendations to your customers is the best way to sell and results in both better targeting and marketing messages. Another great way to help customers in choosing a product is by using the excentos Customer Reviews feature which showcases the most common customer reviews within your Product Guide.



5. Knowledge is power

As well as analyzing which products your customers love, it is also important that you understand the reasons why customers send back certain products. When sending out your products, ensure that you include a few questions on the product return form where the customer can briefly state their reasons for returning.



6. When you visualize, you materialize

Product Images

Great images are crucial to the presentation of your products. Include as many images as possible and the more angles the better! Zoom functions and even videos of your product in action can really assist your customers in understanding whether that is the right product for them.



Inform customers about your products more effectively and watch your profits grow

Start building your Product Guide with excentos and say Goodbye to high return rates.


learn more about Product Guides

Tags: Product Guides Better Process Shopping Experience Reduce Product Returns

Welcome to the Future of Modern Marketing...

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Marketing has changed more in the past two years than it has in the past 20 years… is your company doing everything it can to keep up?

In a world of choice overload, it can be difficult for retailers to keep up with their competition but good marketing tools can certainly give a business the edge. With advances in technology, marketing has become so much more than generic white-papers and social media ads. Leading companies are ploughing millions into their marketing departments as they constantly try to find the next best campaigns and creative concepts. This also includes finding the latest AI technology for the most modern and savvy marketing initiatives. However, one thing has and will always remain the same and that is the wise words of wisdom - ‘know your audience!’

This blog post will delve into some of the newest and most innovative marketing methods out there and explain how they can help your different target groups to feel inspired and purchase your products.

"94% of companies agree that personalization is critical to current and future success." - Matizmo

A personalized customer experience is simply expected these days, especially when it comes to sending out things like birthday emails or even just emails which address the customer by their first name. Unfortunately though, this just doesn’t quite make the cut anymore and customers aren’t too impressed. According to Infosys, 31% of customers wished that their shopping experience was more personalized and only 22% were satisfied with the current situation of online shopping.

Guided Selling Technology offers a broad range of tools which can be integrated directly into your website and offer your customers a personalized advice service as well as help them to navigate your products. It's new, it's modern and it works! So let's weigh up the options out there and analyze which suit your target group best.

PERSONALIZATION TOOLS

1. Product Guides

Product Guides help your customers to make educated buying decisions as well as help you as a business to understand their needs by asking simple questions which lead them to ideal product recommendations.

Product Guides are particularly suitable to customers who are unsure about what to buy - especially when it comes to electronic products like cameras, TVs and washing machines where most people don't claim to be an expert and therefore, need a helping hand.

2. Virtual Try On Tool - Mr Spex

Opticians MrSpex demonstrate excellent personalization with their Virtual Try On Tool. They prove that even buying glasses online isn't risky business anymore. Instead of having to go into a MrSpex store, you can now try different pairs of glasses on from the comfort of your own home. All you need is a webcam or a camera phone and with the help of face recognition, you can then try on all the glasses you wish and see which suit best.

Some customers will naturally still prefer the traditional method of going to buy a pair of glasses from the store but this visual fit tool is perfect for your target groups with hectic lives and those people who just need to make a quick purchase without any hassle.

3. Color and Design Selector - Victoria's Secret

The Victoria's Secret bra collection allows you to browse different colors and designs quickly and easily. They even show the model wearing every kind of color and design which makes it super easy for customers to just flick through and decide which they prefer best.

This kind of personalization feature works well for fashionistas where those little adjustments to things like color and pattern can make a big difference.

4. Gift Finders - Douglas Beauty and Cosmetics

Gift Finders are a personalization tool suitable for everyone. They are user-friendly and built on an algorithm which provides great recommendations to all kinds of people with all kinds of preferences meaning nobody is going to be left empty-handed when they get to the checkout.

Take the above example from European Beauty and Cosmetics leader "Douglas" whose Gift Finder provides their customers with personal questions that show they care about their needs and helping them to find the perfect gift.

Chatbots - product advice in the form of a conversation... but online!

You either love or hate Siri and Alexa... the same applies to online chatbots which can be integrated into your online shop to help advise customers find their perfect product. Available as an auditory or textual bot, chatbots are designed to make you feel like you are having a conversation with a human. When customers shop in-store and don't have the energy to go looking for something themselves or need some product advice, they simply ask the nearest sales assistant. Chatbots allow online customers to quickly ask what they want too, no matter where they are or what time of day it is.

Whole Foods Supermarket uses chatbots to advise customers on recipes as well as informs them of the nearest store to go buy all the ingredients.

Chatbots are particularly suited to customers who need an answer quickly and who don't get frustrated by talking to robots.

Intelligent Reasoning

Convince your customers with individual arguments in a user-friendly language and watch your conversions increase. By simply showing your customers that you understand their needs and are transparent in what you are selling, you will see positive changes in your customer loyalty rates.

Providing your customers with intelligent reasoning is basically telling them that a product fulfills all the criteria that they want the product to have, in order for them to buy it. Intelligent Reasoning is used by Product Guides which asks the customers what their product requirements are and then leads them to an ideal match. For example, the Bose headphones state that they include world-class noise cancellation, are lightweight and comfortable to wear and also Bluetooth compatible - everything the customer asked for!


Decide on a Guided Selling Method for your online shop today.


Start your 30 day free trial today

Tags: Technology Product Guides Customer Loyalty Shopping Experience

How Online Gift Finders Can Make You Cupid This Valentine's

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It's that time of year again - Valentine's Day is around the corner! Customers are panicking that they've still not found that special gift for their special someone.

We all know how much of a pain gift shopping can be - whether it be for your love on Valentine's or any time of year for that matter: birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries etc. Even when you know someone well, finding a good gift can be tricky and most of the time, it's hard to even know where to begin.

This is where Online Gift Finders can really help and advise your customers. Gift Finders are an excellent tool for providing your customers with gift advice, inspiration and recommendations - both easily and successfully!

Let's take a look at the advantages of Gift Finders as well as an example of how leading online homeware store yomonda is already using them.

LOOK

Having a Gift Finder on your website is enticing for customers - they are bound to be curious and test it out. It's fun to use and provides inspiration and recommendations - particularly useful for those who struggle for gift ideas or even people who find your number of products too overwhelming to trawl through. excentos recommender logic uses an intelligent matching engine and combines your sales and marketing strategy. That is what makes the Gift Finder an invincible tool bound to increase your sales and look good in your online shop.

OBSERVE

With excentos, you can observe and track how your Gift Finder is performing, as well as monitor online consumer behaviors. Our web analytics tool collects valuable user information and buying desires which help to assist you in optimizing your marketing strategy and customer approach. Find out exactly how your customers think and which products they really love!

VALUE

Sales personalization provides great value to your customers and allows your business to create real customer relationships online. Gift Finders provide you with the opportunity to speak with your customers and not at them. Customers who experience a pleasant online shopping experience are more likely to value your business and get to the checkout.

EXPERIENCE

We all know how important user experience is when it comes to e-commerce. Gift Finders make the online shopping experience more interactive and also provide good advice and recommendations like you would receive if you went in-store and spoke to a sales assistant. Customer expectations are rising and so it's important that your business keeps up and delivers a high quality online service. After all, the customer is always right so make sure you are proactively finding new ways to keep them happy!


Love is in the air

yomonda demonstrates that love really is in the air with their excellent gift finder. It inspires and gives online shopping that extra special human touch. Check it out:

yomonda - Leading Home Furnishing Retailer

yomonda sell products which make your home more beautiful - anything from home accessories and textiles, furniture, lighting, kitchenware, garden, bath & wellness and more... They aim to offer an online shopping experience which inspires. Their Gift Finder compliments this ethos perfectly.


Step 1 - Person

By asking the customer to type the name of the person they are buying a gift for as well as their relationship - the shopping experience becomes much more intimate and personalized.


Step 2 - Occasion

Narrow down the search for your customer and allow them to discover gifts which perfectly suit certain occasions.



Step 3 - Interests

Let the customer tell you a bit more about the person they are buying a gift for. What are they interested in?

Step 4 - Style

The Gift Finder only asks questions that your customers can answer. What kind of style does the recipient have?


Step 5 - The perfect Gift

And finally, your customer is presented with clever recommendations which the recipient of the gift is bound to love.


Step 6 - More great recommendations...

For those customers feeling generous, they are also presented with several more suitable recommendations.


Help your customers find their perfect gift this Valentine's

Start your 30 day free trial today

Tags: Customer Experience Search User Experience Customer Loyalty

How to create the perfect Product Guide

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Online shopping is changing and as the pace of life gets quicker, customers want to find their perfect product and check out within minutes. Forward-thinking companies are starting to introduce Guided Selling techniques such as Product Guides to try keep up with online consumer buying trends, improve the online shopping experience and help consumers make the right choice. Here's why Guided Selling is revolutionising online shopping and how your business can create a Product Guide successfully and increase revenue.


Time is money

In a world of choice overload, your online shoppers can easily become overwhelmed. Endless search pages amass with irrelevant, unfiltered products can lead your customers to give up their search entirely. Product Guides prevent this from happening by acting as a virtual product advisor.

Creating a Product Guide for your website visitors is the perfect opportunity to ask them a few quick and relevant questions which allows AI and Guided Selling technology to get to know them better. They can then be guided towards their perfect product and away from irrelevant ones - saving your customer both time and energy.

A dating app for products?

Product Guides work on a very similar concept to dating apps, the user states what they want and what they don't want so that AI can filter out all the unsuitable matches and present them with their perfect suitor. Likewise, Product Guides aim to deliver the user a product match which makes them fall in love at first sight. So, how do you build a Product Guide? We’ve compiled a few top tips to help you! This way, you will point your customers in the right direction and give them an enjoyable online shopping experience.


1. "Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible"

-Tony Robbins

Defining your target group and different customer segments is the first step in identifying which kind of your products could suit which kind of customers. Try and get into your customer’s head and ask yourself whether their age or gender could affect their decision in choosing a certain product. Maybe style preferences or income could also come into play. However, it really does depend on your product. Questions could be anything from asking a customer's skin type to advise on moisturizers or desired MB speed to advise on broadband deals.

Take this Rolex watch for example:

What kind of person pops into your head when you look at this watch? What questions and answers would you provide the target group of this product in your Product Guide so that they would be directed to this suitable recommendation?


2. “The most simple things can bring the most happiness”

- Izabella Scorupco

Make life easy and don’t leave your customers guessing. Ensure you have clear and recognizable product names and simple filters which help your customer choose and define what they want in a product.

For example, if you are an online fashion retailer and would like to create a Product Guide which aims to help people find their perfect pair of jeans, the most relevant questions and answers you could pose would naturally be about style and cut.

Although, you must choose your wording carefully, e.g. would your target group for jeans be more aware about the expression "boyfriend fit" jean or "baggy loose-fitting" jean?


3. “An expert knows all the answers - if you ask the right questions”

- Levi Strauss

Chat with the people who know your customers best: your sales and marketing team. Get insights into what your different customer segments look for in your products and their typical buying behaviours.

Think about what features are particular to certain products and are also sought after by customers.

For example, someone who would like to buy a camera for their job as a professional photographer will have a different budget and requirements to someone taking it up as a hobby. Guided selling technology is able to distinguish which of your products suit which kind of customer.


4. “Visual storytelling utilizes both language and art to pass on the essence of who we are”

- Debbie Millman

Choose a theme which tells your brand’s story and make sure your language and image choices stylistically fit the essence of your business. Align your Product Guide with your vision, strategy and marketing message - just like you would with any other content piece.

Your Product Guide should engage your customers and make online shopping a more enjoyable experience as well as seamlessly integrate into your website layout. Canadian clothing label KOTN provides their customers with good quality cotton essentials, hence the simplistic, pure white color theme.


5. ”Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of an intelligent effort”

- John Ruskin

Quality assurance is an important final step before sending your Product Guide live. Make sure to test out its usability with your customers. Your chosen questions and answers should be easy to understand and direct your customer to a suitable product within a reasonable timeframe. For most Product Guides, 2 minutes is a sufficient amount of time for your customer to complete the questionnaire and be directed to their perfect product. However, we have experienced companies with more complex products whose Product Guides require up to 5 minutes - and this is totally fine as long as your questions and answers remain relevant and easy for the customer to follow.

The worst thing would be for the customer to give up filling out the Product Guide half way through - a Product Guide is basically a form of marketing so it's vital to keep it interesting and engaging like you would for any other piece of marketing content


6. “Marketing is really just about sharing your passion”

- Michael Hyatt

You can make the best Product Guide ever but if your customers can’t easily find it, then they can’t enjoy it!

Provide as many links to your Product Guide as possible and use top-level URLs with relevant keywords, e.g. www.yourbusiness.com/productguide. Creating a cool banner which links to the Product Guide is also a handy way to attract your customers into using the guide.


See how easy it is to build a Product Guide with the Workbench

Tags: Customer Experience Recommendation Behavior User Experience Product Guides

How Components Help Create Great UX and Speed Up the Process

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The most crucial point in the development of Product Guides and Product Search functions is ensuring a great User Experience - not just for increased conversion rates but also as one of the main ingredients for a great website where users can enjoy shopping. At excentos, we have concentrated our efforts in research and development for quite some time. During this time, we discovered a way to significantly reduce development time and costs. The excentos solution: a Components and Pattern Library which guarantees excellent User Experience.

UX is not an art - There are methods for great User Experience

UX isn't limited to your graphic designer, there are many different UX methods out there, and even better technology.


"Status Quo for many Custom UI development projects"

Let's take a look at a typical UI project: Creating a New Website, a shop functionality, a Product Guide or product search functions - (this is of course only true for individual user interface development and not if using pre-defined UIs):

  1. we start with wireframes and sketches of the desired concept
  2. (we then prototype it in click-dummies)
  3. we develop (parts of) the editorial content
  4. we get feedback from the customer
    • since wireframes don't show interaction, many UIs tend to be highly underspecified during the concept phase. That's why agencies or service providers and customers don't tend to be on the same wavelength during the design process (unless we spend costly time for click-dummies)
    • the most common missing pieces are: how will it interact? What exactly happens if I click this button? How are animations and transitions have been defined? what is hidden behind this collapsible button?
  5. we develop
  6. you realize it doesn't work like expected
  7. the customer realizes it doesn't behave like expected
  8. the agency is angry at the customer, who is angry at the agency, who is angry at the designer

So, Why are so many questions left open?

"Because developing custom User Interfaces is a very complex task from design through to interaction through to implementation."

With Standard UIs, Things Are Simple

Whenever you only use standard User Interfaces that only need a theme, i.e. adapt color worlds, fonts and sizes, things are easy. However, for many applications, this is not individual enough.


How Components Help in Custom Design and Development Processes

Whenever standard UIs are not enough and you don't want to build a custom UI from scratch, just simply use components. excentos has developed a wide range of components that fulfill almost all requirements of product search and product advisor tools.

Typical components for product search and Product Guides are
  • core layouts like a responsive wizard or longpager user interfaces for Product Guides
  • phase navigation for a wizard
  • question cards
  • filter elements
  • product tiles that display a product
  • navigation buttons for previous- and next-buttons
  • the behavior of off-canvas elements, e.g. to pull-in a product comparison from the side of the result list
Here are examples of the schematic definition of a responsive wizard:
User Interface Layout: Responsive Wizard
User Interface Layout: Responsive Wizard

The user interface consists of a number of components that can be stacked or nested.

Here is a prime example of a good user interface:
Example Screendesign for Responsive Wizard
Example Screendesign for Responsive Wizard

What Are the Benefits of Components?

  • much faster screendesign
  • components contain the interaction design definition - and thus all complex questions are already answered
  • thorough testing
  • much better user experience
  • responsive behavior is defined for every component

excentos owns an extensive portfolio of different user interfaces and of user interface components - make sure to check them out if you want to build a product search or Product Guide tool.

Tags: User Experience

How Lead Generation Strengthens Customer Loyalty

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Retaining a loyal customer base in e-commerce can be tough business. The easy access to internet and technology means every competitor is just one click away and potentially offering a lower price. When considering the costs for e-commerce businesses, for example, costs for AdWords and Facebook ads, it can't be denied how important customer loyalty is. Guided Selling methods offer several features to improve your customer loyalty.

Guided Selling Features That Strengthen Customer Loyalty

The advisory process of Guided Selling solutions provides a positive customer experience and increases customer satisfaction. This fact alone serves as a basis for strengthened customer loyalty. However, some Guided Selling tools go above and beyond in providing features which strengthen customer loyalty significantly. These features are well integrated into the advisory process and support the creation of a solid and loyal customer base. Let's take a look at two of these features:


PDF Generator

The PDF Generator creates a PDF of the user's personalized recommendation that displays all relevant product details and individual reasoning. The PDF contains backlinks to the products' detail pages, directly to the shopping cart or the user can simply continue with the advisory process. It reminds the customers of the advantages of the recommended product and is particularly useful in combination with the lead generator.

Detailed information
verivox pdf generator

Verivox Lead Generator

Lead Generator

A Lead Generator connects the user to the sales departments and sales partners or can also be combined directly with the PDF Generator. The result is that the generated and personalized PDF can be directly sent to the customer, sales department or sales partner via email. Reminding customers of a product's advantages substantially increases repeat purchases. A great feature of Lead Generation is that Leads can be shared within the network of affiliated retailers and channel partners: e.g. if you are a brand and want to forward leads from your website to your channel partners.

Detailed information

Conclusion

Guided Selling solutions increase customer satisfaction and strengthen the customer loyalty. Additional features of Product Guides such as the Lead and PDF Generator are options worth considering. They increase the conversion rate and the likelihood of repeat purchases because by sending the customer an email or PDF, they are less likely to forget about you.

Tags: Lead Generation Customer Loyalty Channel Partners

3 Excellent Examples of Product Guides

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Advanced Guided Selling methods are changing the world of online shopping. excentos has gathered some of their favorite and most inspiring Guided Selling examples to share with you. Here are our top 3 based on usability, design, performance and result accuracy. (English and German)


1. SportScheck: Running Shoe Guide

If you've ever had to buy running shoes, you know that there can be an overwhelming amount of different product features which can make a buying decision rather difficult. However, SportScheck's running shoe guide manages to ease this decision-making process successfully and leads the user to their perfect running shoes in just a few simple steps.

Guided Selling Solution

Usability: The navigation is simple and functional. The user answers the question and clicks 'next'.

Design: Organized and orderly. Background images change according to what the user answers.

Questions: Very easy to answer if the user knows their running habits, e.g. usual running surface.

Special Features: Embedded videos provide additional explanation content and great branding as Olympic athlete Nils Schumann features.

Results: Each product recommendation provides an individual reasoning which refers to the before defined user needs. An additional filter lets the user adjust the answers without leaving the extensive results list.


Overall: SportScheck's running shoe guide is a sophisticated all-rounder that provides you with matching recommendations in just a few steps.

Visit SportScheck's
Running Shoe Guide

Go to Guide
Guided Selling Technology

2. Yomonda: Gift Finder

Yomonda's Gift Finder is a great example of a highly personalized shopping experience. Personalization starts with defining the person receiving the gift by name, gender and your relationship to this person, then continuing through the entire question flow.

Yomonda Gift Finder

Usability: Nice widgets such as a heart slider. The heart becomes bigger the closer you define your relationship to the gift receiving person. Easy-peasy navigation. Answer. Click 'Next'.

Design: Simple but playful design.

Questions: Lovely, personal questions which use your knowledge of the person you are buying a gift for to find the right recommendation.

Special Features: Great level of personalization. A question flow based on the gift receiver's character.

Results: An extensive list of results that is further specified by an additional filter, accompanied by nice, personalized texts.


Overall: A Product Guide that utilizes personalization to make online shopping very enjoyable. Thanks to the questions focusing on the personality of the gift receiver, you easily transfer positive emotions upon the product recommendations.

Visit Yomonda's
Gift Finder

Go to Finder
Gift Finder Yomonda

3. Victoria's Secret: Sports Bra Guide

Victoria's Secret takes a Guided Selling approach that leads the user first to a "Fit Quiz". The quiz resembles a question flow to collect data about the user's preferences and ends with the "Sport Boutique" where further product requirements such as color or strap design can be specified.

Guided Selling Software

Usability: The navigation is not 100% clear. The split between "Fit Quiz" and "Sport Boutique" is unnecessary.

Design: Clear, simple and modern.

Questions: The questions are easy to understand and additional text explains the answering options.

Special Features: The user can convert between different international sizing. Additional videos provide assistance if you need to find out your measurements.

Results: As soon as the user lands in the "Sport Boutique", product recommendations are visible. However, to receive product recommendations that match, the user has still to add futher data in the form of user preferences.


Overall: You do not need to be an expert to shop for a Sports Bra with this Product Guide. The questions are simple to understand and you receive the necessary explanations if you do not understand the answering options or need to find your own measurements. Sadly, the separation between "Fit Quiz" and "Sport Boutique" interrupts the click flow of users. It would be beneficial to only display recommendations once the user has answered all questions to avoid any inaccurate recommendations.

Guided Selling Product Guide

Conclusion

Despite differences in design, usability, and performance, all three Product Guides are effective tools to guide shoppers to the right product. Each Product Guide displays an individual set of features; such as: great user personalization, incorporated videos of celebrities and explanation content which create a special customer experience. The possibilities of Product Guide features are endless and we look forward to more user-friendly online shopping experiences with Guided Selling.

Tags: User Experience Product Guides Upselling

Product Detail Pages: Turn Visitors into Customers - Part 2

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In the second part of Product Detail Pages: Turn Visitors into Customers, we focus on user reviews, videos, cross-selling and stock information. While some of these features have established themselves as an integral part of Product Detail Pages, for example, user reviews, others are used less regularly yet have still shown significant potential in increasing conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

1. User and Customer Reviews

It's simple, customers trust other customers. Products that have been positively reviewed by a considerable amount of users are more likely to be bought. Other factors, next to the number of reviews, have an influence on the perceived trustworthiness. Specific and detailed user profiles should be promoted because more detailed user profiles display authenticity. For example, the review provided by a user who has a visible profile with a decent number of reviews or even a social media profile is more trustworthy than Mr. X without any profile information. Other factors include the length and quality of reviews. Detailed reviews show an understanding of the product and explain the criteria of evaluation which can be helpful to convince potential customers focused on this criteria.

Amazon Customer Review

Source: Amazon.com

The online shopping platform Amazon successfully encourages customers to provide detailed reviews which then leads to lively discussions amongst participating customers. The evaluation of customer reviews by other customers and users help to filter low quality or fake products.


2. Videos

In Product Detail Pages, embedded videos are a valuable tool in display convincing advantages about your proudct and increasing your conversion. They demonstrate the product's usefulness in everyday situations and give easy-to-understand information. More complex products, which need an introduction, profit the most from how-to use explanatory videos. Additionally, videos can suggest alternative uses as well as tips and tricks.

Product Videos Source: Nest.com

Nest the home automation producer of thermostats embeds videos which successfully explain their products, the use and the concept.


3. Cross Selling

Another way to increase the shopping cart value of your potential customers is cross-selling options within the Product Detail Page. There are different types of cross-selling. The easiest way to initiate cross-selling is to offer complementary products that are essential. In other words, offer product B as an addition to product A in order for product A to fully function, e.g. a toy which requires batteries. Another option is to offer products that are similar to the chosen product. This is a great option for upselling by showing other similar products with different prices. Shop your style provides customers with a list of products that fit the style of their original chosen one. For example, the customer searches for jeans and the cross-selling option shows them a matching jacket.

Ikea Cross Selling Source: Ikea.com

Ikea demonstrates a great example of complementary cross-selling. The world's largest furniture retailer offers its customers looking at this lamp Melodi a fitting light bulb to go with it.


4. Stock Information and Delivery Options

It is certainly possible to display stock information simply by writing: available or not. Showing slowly depleting stock can have a positive effect and cause a surge in orders as soon as a certain stock level is reached. Stock level information can also simplify the delivery process and customer's access to the product.

Best buy Stock information Source: Bestbuy.com

The online shop of the consumer electronics retailer Bestbuy combines stock information with product delivery. Customers have the option to choose delivery or pick up in store according to availability of the products.


Conclusion

The above-considered components are not represented in every shop or website's Product Detail Page but they are becoming increasingly essential and popular. Videos provide additional information about the most complex products in a simple and easy-to-understand way. High-quality customer reviews convince customers of quality and advantages of displayed products. While cross-selling allows you to increase shopping cart values, the proper display of stock information can cause a surge in sales and improve your logistics, especially when combined with delivery options. Overall, we find that not every Product Detail Page needs all of the components we have reviewed in part one and two of our analysis. Every component has the potential to increase sales and customer experience if applied appropriately to the products at hand and the customer's needs. Therefore, it always remains necessary to shape your Product Detail Page according to your product and your target group.

Tags: Product Detail Page Customer Experience User Reviews

Product Detail Pages: Turn Visitors into Customers - Part 1

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Following the product search, every customer lands on your Product Detail Page. With a well placed and effective search or Guided Selling tool, you will already have increased the chance that your customers end up on relevant Product Detail Pages. However, despite the fact that your customer may be well informed about the chosen product and is already close to making a buying decision, customers will still have numerous questions and expectations playing on their mind.


If we weight it up, everything boils down to one final question: Is this the right product for me? At that point, an effective Product Detail Page provides the information that the customer is craving and convinces the customer to make the buying decision. So, how do you create an effective and inspiring Product Detail Page?

Essentials of an Effective Product Detail Page

1. Detailed Product Descriptions

Give your customers the information they need and more! Besides all minor, complicated technical product information, customers search for detailed product descriptions. Well-written product descriptions are extremely persuasive and use buzzwords to promote the pros of the product. They show use cases of the product that promote the advantages and differentiate the product from competitors' products. Overall, detailed product descriptions give many convincing arguments to buy the product and at the same time they are SEO-friendly and pull search engine traffic directly onto the Product Detail Page.

Detailed Product Description

Detailed Product Description

This example of Best Made Company shows a carefully written and very descriptive text. It nicely promotes use cases and the advantages as well as gets the reader excited about the product.


2. High-Quality Images

First impressions are everything. High-quality pictures are absolutely vital to display your product in a positive light. The more pictures available, the easier it is for the customer to relate to the product and imagine it in their everyday life. An additional hover zoom function provides a close look at every little detail which the customer really appreciates. The displayed image selection depends on the product itself und brand image can vary from mood images to simple product display to images showing the product in use.

Product Images

Nasty Gal does not fail to impress. They use a great selection of images and show not only one but directly two large images which fit perfectly with the brand's image.


3. Clear Navigation and Call-to-Action

The navigation should support the customer's movements on your websites. Needless to say that we want the customer to move from the Product Detail Page to another. If your Product Detail Page does not have a direct product comparison function, users can compare them via the Product Detail Pages. An explicit call-to-action is essential and serves exactly one purpose: to get your customers quickly to the checkout if they made the decision to buy. It should be instantly visible and appear in a color that attracts the customer's attention. However, if the customer wants to go back to the previous overview, it should be supported as well. Breadcrumbs provide an easy way of navigating your website and prevent any unnecessary drop offs.

Navigation and all to action

Casando uses breadcrumbs to enable a quick navigation between product overview, while a clear call-to-action button leads the user to the checkout.


4. Display Variations

If you display product variations directly on your Product Detail Page, you will keep customers there instead of leading them back to the categories or overviews. The variations should also show the proper price and product information which may have changed, for example: available colors, sizes, stock levels and packaging sizes.

Navigation and all to action

Deuters offers a nice example how to display color variations. All relevant product information change according to the variation.


Conclusion

An effective Product Detail Page needs some essentials, in order to be successful. Persuasive product descriptions, inspiring high-quality images, a simple and powerful checkout navigation and a proper display of variations. However, other features that we find regularly on Product Detail Pages can also increase conversion or decrease drop off rates. Read part two to learn more about cross-selling, user reviews, videos and stock information.

Tags: Product Detail Page Customer Experience

How Smart Preselections Improve the Advisor Process

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In many product categories, providing good sales advice means making sure the customer selects the right type of product and makes the correct buying decision before entering into a detailed search within sub-categories. (for example, "what's better for browsing and emailing: a notebook or a tablet?") Smart preselections are a great way to do this.

Every advisory process has a vital point which is when a decision should be made. This is the moment when the Product Guide needs to find out which product type / or subcategory the user is most likely to buy. Finding out within the advisor process what product types the user is most likely to buy helps us to:

  1. determine which questions to ask in the future (dynamic question flow)
  2. know which (further personalized) content to display
  3. make sure we get the selection process as streamlined as possible
  4. avoid unnecessary steps and dead-ends in the selection process

However, most of the time you can not simply ask the user "hey, what do you need? A notebook or a tablet if you mainly browse the web and sometimes write an email?" since suggesting appropriate product types is the essential job of the Product Guide.


Examples: When Do You Need Smart Preselections?

Here are some examples where smart preselections make sense:

  • Do I need a city or trekking bike?This can depend on comfort, where you use the bike, distance, equipment, weight - e.g. I prefer trekking bikes also in the city because they are lighter in weight and more versatile
  • I want to learn piano - do I need an acoustic piano, an electric piano or a keyboard? Depending on where you live (apartment or house), at what time you play, what type of music you play (Classical/Jazz/Pop), if you want entertainment features or not etc etc .... Intelligent Guided Selling diverts the user away from receiving irrelevant suggestions or information, for example, tt makes no sense to get into the vast amount of possible electrical piano features if the user actually needs an acoustic piano.

"Smart Preselections are crucial to shorten the question flow and avoid bad recommendations - especially if the available choices are widely spread across categories.  They help to determine what questions to ask next, what to avoid and which products to recommend."


How Smart Preselections Boost the Intelligence of Your Product Guide

The excentos solution: Firstly, let's assume you want to buy a pair of new jeans. Depending on your body shape, some jean cuts naturally fit better than others
The Jeans Product Guide asks the user for his size, body shape, style preferences - and then suggests the right jean type before continuing to the results list:

Empfehlung Jeans

How Do Smart Preselections Work?

  • all user input is taken into account to calculate a suitable product recommendation e.g. the jeans advisor asks about the user's body shape to find out which jeans cut is most likely to suit them best
  • the recommendation is not a certain product, but rather a product type
  • avoid wrong recommendations and reduce your return rates!
  • make it transparent and demonstrate your expertise when consulting the user not just for which product to buy but also before explaining them the differences - this creates trust between you and the customer.
  • give all freedom to the user! allow the user to change what you've suggested in case they want something different to your suggestion

What Smart Preselections Can and Can't Do

As far as we've experienced in hundreds of Guided Selling projects, Smart Preselections are really great in more complex buying decisions or in all assortments with totally different types of subcategories/solutions. When using Smart Preselections, it's important to make sure there is intelligent recommendation behavior - otherwise, they will lead the user to wrong product types and recommendations.

Don't try using preselections for replacing the final result list, or only letting the user select the product types. It's important to provide a good suggestion to the user to really guide them through the selection. If possible, provide reasons / arguments for the preselection to make them really smart.

Tags: How to's Smart Preselection

Which Guided Selling method is best for my online shop?

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We can all identify with some of the struggles presented to us by online shopping. Unable to locate the product we want, too many search pages to trawl through, not sure whether to take the risk and buy without seeing it in the flesh. Think back to when you first did an online food shop for example.Did you get confused and a bit frustrated about the large product assortment presented to you? It's not so easy to browse through online as it is to walk through the store, right? The worst is, you can't even grab the nearest sales assistant to quickly guide you to the correct aisle.


Lots of E-commerce Managers and Marketing Teams are realising that their online shoppers are being turned away due to lack of guidance and advice available to them online. Don't allow your customers to be put off! Thanks to intelligent technology, there are lots of online Guided Selling methods out there to make online shopping more customer focused. Let's discover which method is most suited to your particular online shop.

Here are some of the most common asked questions by online shoppers, as well as the pros and cons of different Guided Selling solutions on offer:

Customer asks: "What kind of features can this product offer?"

Guided Selling Solution: The Faceted Search

The faceted search breaks down a product's features and specifications making it easier for the customer to filter out what they do and don't want in their product. Literally, every shop uses faceted search, either as a standalone search or as an after-search navigation.

Faceted Seach at Walmart
Pros:
  • Efficient browsing within a product's category
  • The fastest way to browse a product assortment
  • Intelligent faceted search solutions don't lead to dead-ends and are able to explain a lot about the product details - particularly ideal for professional buyers who are already pretty familiar with your products
Cons:
  • Faceted searches are unable to assist customers who are unsure of their requirements and exactly what they want
  • The faceted search does not function like a human and won't be able to advise and educate your customer like a sales assistant would

Customer asks:"Which of these products fits my needs, and, uhmm, what actually are my needs?"

Guided Selling Solution: Product Guides

Kamera Guide von Excentos

Product Guides really help the customer to get what they need. Once the customer has started exploring your products with the faceted search, they want to know which product is the right one for them and this is where the Product Guide comes into play. Product Guides allow you to deliver a short yet savvy questionnaire for your customers to state what they do and don't want. AI Guided Selling technology can then refer the customer to an ideally suited product match.

Pros:
  • Be able to naturally guide the customer through the selection process
  • Product Guides act like a piece of marketing to further enhance your products and make them more attractive for purchase
  • Make online shopping a more enjoyable, customer focused online shopping experience
  • Be able to offer cross-category recommendations to try increase sales even further
  • Automatically update your latest product listings and automatically adapts the question flow to never ask unnecessary questions
  • Sell in line with your sales strategy and reach targets by controlling the recommendation behavior and ensuring the Product Guide recommends exactly what you want it to
Cons:
  • Someone has to develop the questionnaire concept and in order for it to create successful product recommendations, time and expert knowledge is required
For tips on "How to Create the Perfect Product Guide" - see our blog post: How to create the perfect Product Guide

Customer asks: "What's the in-thing? What is everyone else buying?"

Guided Selling Solution: Statistical Recommenders

If your customers are followers of trends, then statistical recommenders are great! They are able to fill the gap and learn from your shop or website's previous usage data which then translates into product recommendations. It detects patterns in buying behavior such as:

  • Users who bought this product also bought these other products
  • Users who watched this product also bought/watched these other products

There are separate types of recommender technologies, e.g. collaborative filtering and content-based filtering solutions. They aim to incorporate historical data or content, such as: product descriptions, names and attributes etc. More updated product recommenders powered by artificial intelligence focus on information such as product images, shipment returns, contextual information and much more...

Pros:
  • Scalable as data driven
  • Doesn't require explicit knowledge models
  • Can be very dynamic and adapt to user trends
Cons:
  • Cold start problem
  • Does not work properly for new products or if newly integrated into a website
  • Requires a lot of traffic to learn dependencies consequence: not suitable for smaller shops
  • Not very suitable for long-tail assortments (since there is little data per product; can be enhanced by content-based filtering or other contextual approaches)
  • No reasoning
  • Cannot make sure that there are complete mismatches, e.g. child book recommended together with sex toys since mom once bought this together (unless category dependencies modeled manually)
Amazon Recommender Example
The most common examples of recommenders in a shop environment is Amazon

So, what do we think?

We say Mixed Models are best...

As you can see, there are many ways to guide your customers through your online shop. The best tools obtain great conversion rates and upselling by mixing the Guided Selling and data-powered recommender technologies together.

The excentos mixed Guided Selling and recommender technology is perfect to get the best of both worlds and offer your customers the best online shopping experience. The result is beneficial since it allows knowledge models which guarantee quality, reasoning and historial usage data to cover buying trends which quickly adapt to user preferences and allow the customer to have their say on which of your products are the best!

Increase your Sales and Reduce Drop Off Rates with Guided Selling Solutions

Let's talk more about your business and choose the best Guided Selling Technology for you

Tags: Technology Recommender Tools Search

How AI Algorithms Help to Learn Recommendation Behavior

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Providing great recommendations and product advice is no longer restricted to static knowledge models - instead, excentos combines guidance with artificial intelligence and learning algorithms. This creates the perfect mix of sales strategy into your Product Guide while adapting it to what your customers actually enjoy buying.

Many Guided Selling tools such as product advisors successfully "guide" the user through the product selection process. Firstly, they find out what the user requires and then recommend products that best fit to their specific needs. In most cases, product advisors exploit static knowledge models or use specific business rules in order to create and adapt to the recommendation behavior. Using this approach, the following advantages can arise:

  • experts can define and assure the quality of the recommendation behavior, so you have everything under control (everything falls in line with the sales and marketing strategy)
  • the recommendations can follow your sales strategy
  • merchandising functions and push factors such as upselling, avoiding stockout situations, highlighting products with higher margins etc. can be implemented

Learning Helps Improving Product Guides

Algorithms that can learn the recommendation behavior from usage data have the following advantages compared to static knowledge models:

  • ability to learn and adapt to buying trends e.g. changing trends in a fashion advisor or higher requirements for CPU power with evolving notebook technologies in a laptop advisor
  • filling the gap where it is not possible or inappropriate to define the recommendation behavior instead of letting the users set the preferencese.g. for preferred colors, price ranges, brands etc
  • less effort to (manually) define the knowledge model
  • learning about dependencies where there is no product data

Combine Guidance with Preference Learning

Recent innovations of the excentos Lab allow combining the advantages of artificial intelligence-based learning algorithms with the guided approach of quality-assured knowledge models. Guided Selling is no longer restricted to static knowledge models - instead, we've developed recommenders that incorporate both approaches into one great sales and marketing tool:

  • the basic recommendation behavior is still determined from a knowledge model-based approach. This ensures that certain quality criteria (e.g. a race bike must not be heavier than 10 kg) are met.
  • depending on the use case, we let the recommender learn from usage data, i.e. every user's input, every transaction and also contextual information such as a user viewed a product, clicked on its image and so on makes the recommendations smarter.

There are numerous advantages of combining controlled guidance with flexible learning:

" self-learning Guided Selling tools are drastically increasing efficiency since they allow to control the recommendation behavior, but at the same time flexibly learn from usage data and optimize the conversion rate"

Examples where self-optimizing recommendations are required and boost shopping experience

There are a lot of industries where only the combination of the two approaches can guarantee great recommendations and a convincing shopping experience:

  • fashion - e.g. make sure the right sizes are recommended to avoid unnecessary returns (knowledge model), and learn color/brand/style trends from usage data
  • gift finders - e.g. make sure the right categories are displayed to the user, but learn which products have the best conversion for which use case and age of the gift receiver
  • technical products - e.g. learn about the willingness to pay and typically accepted price ranges per target group, and learn which RAM size gamers like to buy for their laptop
  • sports - e.g. make sure a running shoe fits the user's training goals (knowledge model), but learn what colors and brands users buy
  • seasonal products - e.g. learn which products are bought around Easter or Christmas and make sure once Christmas is over, you don't stick to Christmas gifts only

Combine Learning With Guidance

Artificial Intelligence in Product Guides and recommender tools can significantly increase efficiency - however, they often lack appropriate expert knowledge and sales guidance. A combination of static expert knowledge models and self-optimizing recommendation behavior results in way more effective recommendations - so make sure your Product Guide supports both!

Tags: Recommendation Behavior

How to Determine the Right Duration of Advisory Processes

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During the conceptualization stage of building a Product Guide, we are often asked what the ideal duration for the questionnaire should be? How many questions and answer options are appropriate? How many seconds or minutes should the user remain in the Product Guide? And what are the implications for conversion or drop-off rates?

The answer isn't so clear-cut: it really does depend, so read on to see how the length of the selection process influences user experience and conversion rates.


Defining the Right Length of an Advisory Process

Defining the right length of the Advisory Process always depends on the product category and the goals of your shop or website. Of course, there is no single answer to this question because it depends on many factors. Defining the right length is crucial for:

  • user experience: clearly, users want to get through to the results list as quickly as possible
  • effectiveness: ask necessary questions and avoid unnecessary questions
    (examples of good questions which really allow you to get to know what the user wants could include asking about desirable features and style preferences for example)
  • Define your priorities: depending on your priorities and your target group, the website operator and the user may have different goals. Do you want to expose the user to the brand for as long as possible, increase likelihood of conversion. All these factors influence how many seconds a user will be in your Product Guide.

How many Questions Does a Good Advisor Ask?

The answer is quite simple:

As few as possible
so that the user gets through the process as quickly as possible,

but also as many as is necessary
in order to deliver good recommendations.

But what does that actually mean for my Product Guide concept?


What we learned from Tracking & Analytics

In hundreds of Guided Selling projects which were implemented by excentos, we observed how the duration of a Product Guide influences its overall conversion rates. What is the rule of thumb when analysing why users may drop off or require a more detailed Product Guide?

Duration of Decision Process and Drop-Off Rate
Duration of Decision Process and Drop-Off Rate

As the chart shows, the more complex a buying decision is, the more willing users are to invest the time. They wants to see the content and expect a certain depth of advice and knowledge. Of course, as in any web application, from every page to page or wizard phase to wizard phase, you risk losing some users. But the overall message is that complex decisions require longer processes and this is really what users expect so don't always feel put off by the fact your questionnaire may seem really long.
Simple buying decisions, however, show a clear increase in drop-off rate after only "one question asked too much".

In both cases, of course, there is a tipping point where after a certain duration users drop-off. The crucial point is to find out where this tipping point is.


How to Find Out When the Tipping Point is Reached

The excentos Web Analytics offers great charts and measures to analyze duration versus drop-off rate. Here's a summary of the millions of data points we've collected:

  • the desired duration users want to spend within a Product Guide heavily depends on the product category
  • in product categories where users frequently buy (e.g. several times a year) and thus know their requirements and the product features, you're best with, say, 90 to 150 seconds
  • if users buy less frequently, e.g. only every 1 or 2 years, and/or if the product category is more complex, a suitable length is between 2 and 3 minutes
  • if the product is typically only bought every 5 to 10 years, there'll be many new features to explain. Examples are household devices, cars, certain IT equipment etc. where many features changed or are new since the user last shopped for this product. Users tend to spend an incredible average of 6 to 9 minutes on these kinds of Product Guides!
  • if the Product Guide is too short, users won't feel that they received expert sales advice and thus won't trust the recommendations

Of course, there is a but:

  • if your brand loyalty is high, it keeps the users longer on the site - also within your Product Guide
  • a longer duration is only beneficial if covered with interesting content (consider using videos for example) and diversified layouts.

Features That Can Influence the Duration

When considering the duration of your Product Guide, take a look at these features:

  • smart preselections to focus the Advisor Process
  • recommendation preview that shortens the perceived duration of the selection process
  • dynamic question flow that only shows relevant questions to the user
  • great content and videos that make the experience pleasurable and keep the user longer in the Product Guide

See the detailed feature descriptions to learn how to integrate these features into your Product Guide - and get the right duration for the right decision process.

Tags: User Experience Product Guides