HOW TECHNOLOGY HELPS CUSTOMERS NAVIGATE PRODUCT RANGES

More and more consumers are going online to purchase new products. As such, brands are constantly having to come up with new ways to help their customers navigate large product ranges and choose the right solution for them.

We’ve rounded up some of the best ways to help customers navigate products ranges, both online and in-store.

WEBSITE USER EXPERIENCE

The first place people usually go to search through your product range is your website, so user experience here is really important. There are a few features that are a must for helping customers navigate product ranges. These include ‘Recommended Products’, ‘Similar Products’ and clear menus with simple labels.

Microsites can also be utilized, especially in the run-up to an annual holiday or event. We recently came across the Waterstones Christmas Gift Guide which groups together books for different gift buyers. It makes it easy to choose a present for every member of their family. Plus it is set out like a Christmas village which ties it into the time of year.

The Waterstones Christmas village uses a fun festive layout to help users navigate product ranges

Part of Soap & Glory’s Christmas campaign this year is a microsite we’ve created called Glam Tidings, which features wooden cabins users can “enter” to find Christmas treats.

DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS

A diagnostic tool is an interactive digital experience that takes users’ information and uses bespoke algorithms to recommend the most relevant products for their needs.

These tools have been used by the beauty industry for years, but there are many retail areas the concept could be applied to. The tools vary in complexity and the technology used to produce an answer for the user. Some tools ask the user a series of questions and come up with a product based on your answers.

And then there are diagnostic tools like the Olay Skin Advisor.  It uses a picture of the user’s skin and analyses it for acne, wrinkles and signs of ageing. The app then produces a full analysis of the user’s forehead, eyes, cheeks and mouth and a Skin Age. In the final stage, the app recommends products for the user.

Screenshots of the Olay Skin advisor which analyses user's skin on mobile and recommends products.

Diagnostic tools are great for helping consumers navigate large product ranges, especially if the user has specific needs or interests. Diagnostic tools can be applied to books, technology such as computers and phones, and even large-ticket items like cars.

CHATBOTS

A chatbot is an AI-powered digital tool that mimics the conversational behaviour of a human.

There are lots of reasons a brand might choose to use a chatbot. L’Oréal uses a Messenger bot to help users find the perfect gift for their friend or family member.

Our chatbot for Soap & Glory takes the form of a pop-up help box on their website. This chatbot fields the most popular questions the Soap and Glory team receive on social media and therefore reduces the excessive time it takes to respond to these common questions.

The Soap and Glory chatbot begins by greeting the user by name, and asking what they are looking for.

In the last couple of weeks, the same experience can also be accessed on the Messenger function of the brand’s Facebook page.

Done in the right tone of voice, these conversations can be very meaningful and effective. People are already used to conversing with real people in this way, so chatbots with a strong and relevant brand persona can provide a rich experience.

SOCIAL MEDIA

The Olapic Tapshop allows customers to purchase directly from your social feed. It enables retailers to drive traffic and revenue from their audience on Instagram.

With Tapshop, retailers can immediately ‘Shopify’ their content as they post on Instagram by linking related products to each photo they post. This cuts down on the clicks a customer takes from seeing the product on their social feed and buying.

Olapic Tapshop on mobile helps users navigate product ranges by shopping the look from a brand's Instagram feed

Social is becoming hard to ignore as more than half (56%) of consumers who follow brands on social media sites say they do so to view products, according to new research from loyalty analytics company Aimia.

Nearly a third of online shoppers (31%) saying they are using these channels to browse for new items to buy. Facebook is the most popular network people are using (26%), followed by Instagram (8%) and Pinterest (6%). Social media platforms stand in as a catalogue and retailers ignoring this potential to buy directly from social will miss out.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

There are tools that allow you to navigate product ranges yourself, and there are tools that do it for you.

Cloud IQ is the conversion rate optimisation platform that improves revenues for e-commerce operators. It uses Artificial Intelligence to drive up conversion rates to engage more consumers, and capture data. So retailers can nurture more customers through to sale. This means that when a consumer visits a website, they see a tailored site based on their interests.

As AI gets better and, more importantly, cheaper, we see it as becoming integral to marketing and presenting consumers with exactly the products they want.

IN-STORE?

You cannot ignore the rising influence of tech in-store as well as for shopping online. In fact, those that do ignore this trend might find they are missing out, as consumers are not ignoring it.

Aimia published research on the “M-Shopper”, that is, shoppers who take their mobile phone to check prices when looking in-store. They found that 21% of all shoppers are M-Shoppers. Furthermore, 74% of M-Shoppers are over 29 years old — they are not just the millennial generation. As this research was completed in 2013, we anticipate that this number is even greater now.

And stores are catching on. Tom Ford Beauty recently opened their first ever brick and mortar store in London and the two-floor retail space will feature augmented reality try-on options.

MAC Cosmetics have launched an in-store augmented reality mirror in the US with a global rollout planned for 2018. The makeup looks on the mirror’s system are mapped to the face thirty times a second. The mapping places the looks to within a fraction of a pixel, a precision previously unseen.

Looking to help your customers find the right products for their needs? Our team has a wealth of experience in developing creative, innovative bespoke solutions. Get in touch on hello@weareready.com.

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