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Guided Selling as a True Differentiator for an Engaging Product Discovery

The retail landscape has changed and gaining a competitive edge is extremely difficult for shops today. With huge product choice becoming universally expected and the market-ruling belief that prices must be low, there is little left to compete on.

The Challenges

The problems are many: abandoned carts, crushing competition, customers who have become very fickle and unwilling to spend hours comparing and weighting product features. Solving these problems calls for a complete paradigm shift, and putting the shoppers’ needs back in the focus.

As someone who sells to people, you have to make constant attempts to identify and address pain points or obstacles that keep your customers from finding, choosing and purchasing the products they need, quickly and conveniently. Research shows that 83% of online shoppers require some degree of customer support while making a purchase (eConsultancy). To remain competitive, successful stores have to show people a simple path to follow, and provide them with more engaging ways to express what they’re looking for.

Online shoppers display a tendency to repeatedly purchase from the same stores as long as they like the experience. In spite of a huge number of options, people usually stick to their favorite few stores. It’s your experience and the ease of shopping you provide that puts your store high up on the shortlist. This is why being the #1 Point of Decision and offering exceptional customer experience has become so important.

It requires not just broad assortment, but also sound product information, and on top of that, excellent product advice. Customers are ready to leave your store within seconds, if they do not receive the adequate level of support. Helping people find the right products faster and at a smaller amount of clicks is the key to success.

Shopping for Benefits vs. Features

Product specs, for many shoppers, are just meaningless figures. The actual benefits of products are what most customers care about, not specifications. And by benefits, we mean what the product allows people to do, and how it effectively improves their lives.

We’ve seen examples of good understanding of this approach in what Steve Jobs did for Apple years ago. As one of the first companies in the tech industry, Apple realized the importance of product benefits for people. Jobs’ keynotes were always packed with interesting demonstrations of products, but never focused too much on numbers like screen resolution, connection speed, memory, etc.

The company would rather communicate how many songs you can store on an iPhone or how you can spice up your phone with great apps. More along this line, instead of saying that a mobile internet connection has a speed of 12Mbps, Apple would simply say the device allows downloading a song in just 2 seconds.

Interactive Product Discovery

There is high potential for sellers who offer a differentiated online customer experience. Although financial reasons may still be important, people increasingly value comfort over the price factor alone. If you provide them with a memorable experience, they will stick with you for ages. This situation presents an opportunity that modern sellers should not miss.

Guided Selling originated as a product discovery process that very closely replicates the interaction with human shop assistants. Like an experienced salesperson, interactive product advisors will ask shoppers a few simple and need-oriented questions, and subsequently suggest products or services that best meet their needs or lifestyle, even for the most technically advanced products or technically less inclined shoppers. This innovative way of product discovery makes sure that both to novice and expert shoppers are navigated to products they will like.

Numbers don’t lie

Guided Selling is not just a fancy way to showcase your products. It holds some measurable benefits both for businesses and shoppers, as successful implementations generate conversion increases averaging at 30-70% as well as sales increases by 20% an more. Shoppers, on the other hand, are more happy with the products they buy, which can result in a 10% reduction in returns.

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Martin Schliefnig is the Co-Founder of zoovu, an international company that provides businesses with the technology to build, manage and deploy intelligent digital assistants.