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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

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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