In many fields it holds true that “the customer knows best”. In retail, however, it may not always be really smart to assume that customer is the best person to decide, which product to go for.
Shoppers surely know their needs and requirements better than anybody else, but when it comes to choosing the most appropriate product or solution, very few are actually able to make the best possible choice. On the other hand, the salespersons, business owners or manufacturers are expected to know exactly, which products or services they sell and can come up with much better advice or recommendations based on the shopper’s individual needs.
The online dilemma – A majority of online businesses are obsessed with converting a visitor into customer. They don’t really bother guiding visitors towards the best possible solution, which is one of the main functions of retail – linking shoppers to the right products.
When looking at an online store, it’s quickly evident whether it considers itself as active facilitator or merely puts products out on display. At these online stores, you will find a search box and filters, but no approaches to provide guidance or advice to shoppers.
Truth is, investing in guiding visitors is worth all the time and effort as it avoid that shoppers are left to their own devices with overwhelming purchase decisions.
Limitations of Search tools
The site search is great for visitors who knows the name or exact specifications of a particular product that they are looking for. But not all potential customers will land on your website with a specific product in mind.
Example: A shopper looking for to buy a new smartphone
She lands on your website knowing her budget and looking for a smart phone with some basic functions. She doesn’t have the time or patience to go through the inventory one by one. There’s a search bar, but unless she knows the exact name of the smartphone that she is looking for, all she can do is typing in “smartphone”, only to receive a list of all available smartphones.
While the search function can narrow down options, the results do not indicate suitability.
Some stores will provide shoppers with a faceted search tools to help them narrow down the result further, but in most cases, these filters are meant for more knowledgeable customers.
In our example of a smartphone shopper, the shopper might not know with filters to apply. How many megapixels is good?, How much RAM does she need?, Which processor, screen size, or OS are best? And even she knows a thing or two about these specs, there are still dozens of products with similar specifications – filtering can only get you so far.
Here’s where Guided Selling solutions come in handy. They aim to replicate a knowledgeable shop assistant at a store, by focusing on the needs and requirements of the customers, asking easy questions to understand the shopper’s expectations to then, come up with suitable recommendations based on the shopper’s input.
Benefits of Advice
The difference between Guided Selling and regular search or filter tools is that the interactive expert advice is all about asking questions in layman’s terms. For example …
- Do you want to watch videos on your mobile?
- Do you want to play games on your mobile phone?
- Do you want a big screen?
- How much are you willing to spend?
These are easy to answer questions that a typical customer can reply with ease and are all the Guided Selling solution needs to generate results that match even complex shopper requirements.
Any purchase decision that involves knowledgeable and trusted advice can be made with more confidence, which is beneficial to shoppers and your business.
Offering expert advice fast-tracks the decision-making process and increases the chances for a completed purchase, because customer who are sure about their choice, are much more likely to follow through with the purchase and leave your store more satisfied. For your business this means another satisfied customers and higher conversion.
When a customer makes a wrong choice and purchases a product that wasn’t really a good match (buyer’s remorse), they will hardly ever blame themselves. Instead, they will be coming back to you with complains or queries.
Instead of spending all that time and resources on post-sale customer service, isn’t it better to invest on Guided selling and help them choose the best possible product? It will eventually result in better customer relations, loyal customers, and repeat business.