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Customer Behavior

How to Overcome the 4 Biggest Shopping Obstacles with Guided Selling

Nowadays, people are used to almost everything in real-time and on-demand. Even purchase decisions are often made short-term and within only two days at most (from the initial idea to the purchase). If businesses cannot overcome the obstacles that hinder people from making confident purchase decisions, then a large percentage of potential sales and bottom-line profits could be lost out on.

The decision-making process can be interrupted at any stage, and for the simplest to the most complicated of reasons. Therefore, pre-emptive strategies and suitable solutions must be implemented before the decision-making process becomes derailed.

Let us consider several common impediments for the conversion of interest into a sale, and uncover what role Guided Selling plays in helping to best overcome them.

1. “Why is this so difficult?”

Possibly the biggest, yet most commonly overlooked obstacle to closing a sale is that the customer gets frustrated and overwhelmed with the provided information, which makes them want to give up quickly. This is a large problem among users of all age groups, from digital natives to digital immigrants, as what today’s consumers crave are convenient, mobile-friendly, and hassle-free shopping experiences.

Simplifying the purchase process is your key.

You don’t have to go as far as Tesco, who cut their range by 30% to simplify shopping. Start by eliminating unnecessary steps such as having to sift through dozens of pages, unfamiliar site structures, or in the context of a physical store, having to walk through a number of never-ending aisles, to discover suitable products.

This is where a Guided Selling solution comes in handy. It aims to understand the consumer’s needs by asking a couple of questions and helps users to quickly narrow down the choices to a few products worth considering. Look out for solutions that are responsive and that facilitate the seamless integration across multiple channels and touch-points.

Guided Selling possesses the luxury of being able to reduce what we commonly refer to as “information-overload” or choice overload.  – Markus Linder, CEO SMARTASSISTANT


2. “Do I really need this?”

This obstacle arises most often with impulse purchases. Oftentimes it is not the buyer’s own concern, rather, that of their family or peers, who may criticize them for a purchase decision made in poor judgement. Essentially, the customer is looking for a reason to justify the purchase to themselves, and possibly to others.

Provide a justification for a purchase decision based on the shopper’s needs.

People like to believe that their behavior is rational; however, most purchasing decisions are made emotionally, as illustrated in the following infographic about the impact of emotion on the B2B buying process.

How emotion impacts B2B buying


The earlier you manage to create an emotional connection between a shopper and a product by highlighting the personal value and by helping the shoppers understand individual (and especially intangible) product benefits for THEM, the more difficult it will be for them to backpedal.

Also, consider that customers often prefer to specify their product needs on an abstract level rather than on the model commonly presented in stores (e.g. technical categories, feature labels and navigation structures).

By using a needs-oriented Guided Selling solution, your customers will be able to articulate their needs in simpler terms, which is not unlike speaking with a salesperson in-store. It allows you to uncover even latent shopper needs and match them to the most suitable products in stock.

This personalized and conversational approach lets you establish an emotional connection between the shopper, the recommended product, and your brand. As shoppers receive product recommendations that correlate directly with their individual and highly personal needs and wants, you will make it easier for uncertain shoppers to rationalize their decision to purchase.


3. “Is this actually the solution I was looking for?”

Unfortunately, the perfect solution simply does not always exist. Therefore, the customer must be sometimes persuaded to settle for a product that is close enough.

Offer suitable product alternatives.

There’s nothing worse in a purchase decision process than the dreaded “Sorry, no matching products found”-showstopper. To enhance sales and to give shoppers less of a reason to leave your site for another, consider offering suitable alternatives for when an item is not available. This way you can ensure that your shoppers experience a great, as well as fluid customer journey, and that they are supported proactively during the most critical stages of their purchase decision process.

As Guided Selling follows a highly needs-based paradigm, these solutions are able to identify close alternatives that still meet the user’s needs and can explain why a product is worth compromising for. This is similar to a sales associate in a store who would always offer an alternative, even if none of the available products fully satisfied the shopper’s demands.

Another benefit of this customer-centric approach is that it offers opportunities to up-sell shoppers. Guided Selling solutions are able to suggest products with features at a higher price, which the shopper may not have chosen or considered, but that would be best to fulfil their individual needs and product expectations.


4. “Is this worth the price?”

Generally this obstacle arises when a customer has already decided to make a purchase, but it is up to you to convert that interest into a sale, rather than letting them seek out a (cheaper) competitor.

Alleviate the challenge of having to evaluate loads of information.

Instead of allowing potential customers to be drawn to competitors, eliminate the time-consuming task of having to research and compare products on other sites. Studies predict that the shopping experience will outstrip price as the main differentiator by 2020, and will be the most important driving factor in a purchase decision-making process. It means that you have to provide convenient, pleasant and hassle-free shopping experiences, if you want to remove barriers to completing a sale.

The easier you make it for your shoppers to discover products, compare different options, and gather relevant information directly on your site, the more likely it will be that they will be brought closer to a purchase decision, and the higher your chances of converting them into buyers.

Guided Selling removes this obstacle and threat to a potential sale by explaining exactly why a product was recommended based on the needs articulated by the shopper. Most solutions also come with integrated product comparison features and reviews, and integrate all the information shoppers need to make an educated decision – right there and then. This makes a big difference in the overall shopping experience and the perceived “ease of use” of your store.


Studies show that businesses that implement Guided Selling solutions were able to increase their sale conversion rates by an average 30-70%, and could generate higher sales by approximately 20%. Therefore, commitment to these strategies will assuredly make purchase-making decisions more streamlined, which will effectively lead to higher profits and AOVs, and make for much happier clients.

Which of These Obstacles Do You Commonly Tackle and How?
Let me know if you have any questions. Write your comments below, and I’ll be happy to help out!


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Victoria Starkey is a freelance writer from St. John’s, Canada, and holds a BA in Political Science. She has a keen interest in leveraging technology as a way for people to improve their lives. When she is not blogging for Guided, she is working with the SOS Children's Villages International.