With the holiday season just around the corner, brands are looking for an advantage over the competition in the industry. Given that many customers will buy some, if not all, of their holiday gifts online, identifying ways to capitalize on the increased demand for e-commerce can make or break an organization’s profit potential. As the state of retail technology advances, companies are learning how to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools to deliver more customized shopping experiences online.
With any omnichannel approach to selling, it’s essential to look at how to replicate the best parts of a shopping experience online. Online retailers are always looking for ways to simulate guided sales – the process where a sales associate addresses a customer about their specific needs and directs them to the perfect item without further browsing or research. This simple tool for a website can be implemented even after code freeze, adding a reactive and engaging layer to the online shopping experience. By leveraging AI-powered technology, the guided sales process can now be enhanced and streamlined through the power of automation.
In addition to the transaction itself, guided sales provide brands with data that can lead to a deeper and more intuitive understanding of their consumers. By learning how customers respond to specific product recommendations, brands can better understand what consumers are looking for and why. With real-time visibility, they can build their offerings based on which items are purchased more frequently, which product upgrades are most attractive, and which factors are most important in determining the customer’s ultimate purchasing decision.
The fastest way to the perfect product
Guided selling is an interactive method to help customers quickly find the product that suits them. In industries such as apparel or electronics, where specific sizes, brands, and types make all the difference, having a tool to reduce the research time required by the customer ensures a more seamless customer experience. For example, a customer buying Bluetooth or wireless speakers doesn’t want to waste time cross-referencing size or compatibility specifications for every available product. Their purchase decision is influenced by convenience and relevance.
AI-driven guided selling can be achieved in several ways. First, it requires the adoption of a dynamic e-commerce platform that can engage customers in real time by asking questions relevant to identifying the item they are interested in. Organizations can set up a series of questions that build on each other to present personalized product recommendations or lead a customer to the one product that is best for them. The end result is a selection or series of selections that feel personalized to the buyer. Shoppers get to their desired product faster and are more confident that it is the right item for them.
Benefits for both the customer and the company
The benefits of guided selling are clear. A more streamlined experience leading to smart purchasing decisions is a critical driver of consumer brand loyalty. There are indications that in the near future high-quality customer experiences will overtake product quality and price as the most critical factor in brand differentiation.
By implementing AI-powered guided selling tools within an ecommerce platform, brands can reduce choice paralysis and shopping fatigue, leading to higher conversion rates and happier customers. For brands to stand out from their competition this holiday season, the focus must be entirely on the customer experience. Guided selling will soon no longer be a fun option for brands to stand out in their field, but a requirement to provide the best online service. The 2022 Omnichannel Retail Index shows that only 26% of retailers offer guided sales, giving several retailers the chance to stand out during the holiday season.
Want more insights from the Omnichannel Retail Index 2022 to guide your strategies and tactics for 2023? Watch our recent webinar now with OSF Digital’s Bernardine Wu and Salesforce’s Rob Garf!
Kathy Kimple is the executive director of OSF Digital’s strategy group. She leverages more than 25 years in omnichannel retail with a focus on brands, including digital strategy and store operations, registry, marketing, technical selection and organizational design.