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scrabble keys form the word search denoting product discovery element in ecommerce

Product Discovery: Enhancing the customer shopping experience

The Path to Better Product Discovery

Discovery is essentially the most important part of product management in e-commerce. The search functionality differs across different websites, but overall, customers must be able to access relevant results quickly and easily in order for you to raise conversion rates for your business.

In this article, we shall explore how you can optimize your website for better product discovery.

Product Discovery: The Key Factor

‘Product Discovery’ is the process through which a customer comes to your online store and discovers a relevant product. The time taken to get to the product is called ‘Product Discovery Time’. As a retailer, quick product discovery is imperative, because unless your customer can find a product he/she wants to buy, no amount of traffic or conversion optimization will be able to drive revenue. 

In a study conducted by ClickTale, it was observed that for e-commerce sites without an optimized search functionality, shoppers spent more time attempting to find their desired product, but left because they were unable to find it. Alternatively, on e-commerce sites with better search functionality, they spend less time but actually find the desired product faster. As a result, the customer sticks around to make a purchase despite spending less time on the site. If a customer has a sub-par experience while searching for products, they are likely to ditch the store resulting in an overall disappointing experience.

Up The Product Discovery Game

Now that you understand how product discovery drives revenue, let’s take a look at how you can optimize the e-commerce experience for your customers. Relevance is an important theme to base an e-commerce site on. The more relevant your site is to each individual shopper, the better your product discovery experience will be.

Begin with an optimized homepage that features current promotional offers, current sales, and time-sensitive offers to drive urgency. After this, you can add:

  1. Personalized product listings based on recently viewed items to save time for a shopper looking to make similar purchases.

  2. Showcase trending and popular best-selling products to draw in new customers visiting for the first time that lack browsing history.

  3. Display new arrivals to give your customers a chance to view and possibly purchase your newest offerings.

  4. Include educational content such as guides, product reviews, and product videos. This kind of content pre-sells your products to customers who are merely browsing through your online store.

Hook By Navigation

Customers use navigation when they are searching for products but are undecided on what exactly they are looking for. So the navigation on your site needs to be both fast and intuitive so as to not lose a shopper at the start of their search journey. 

Here are a few points to bear in mind:

  1. Navigation menus must display a varied collection of categories and sub-categories to narrow the range from which a shopper can search for a product.

  2. Fly-out menus i.e, menus that "fly out" from the left or right side of the screen, and are hidden until the mouse is moved into the area of the screen, are a popular option used by retailers for this purpose.

  3. Adding filters to the search menu can help shoppers to selectively filter products based on necessity.

  4. Make filterable and sortable attributes per product as complete as possible, such as tags for colors, sizes, brand etc.

  5. Allow mix and match of the filter and sort tags to make search easier. For example, You can allow customers to search for pink and black dresses in one view instead of making them go through two separate searches for each color.

Faster, Accurate Results

Customers expect to get exact results from quickly typing in words into a search box. Your site search must be capable of handling input such as product names, product types, categories, FAQs, product features, keyword variations, and misspellings for an optimized solution. Create and optimize dedicated landing pages for users coming in from search engines. In these cases, it is critical to feature relevant products immediately and include a call to action or conversion action. As an example, if a user searches for black boots, they should ideally be redirected to a page showcasing boots under shoes with black pre-selected as a filter. You must also make sure to create dedicated landing pages for top search terms relating to your products and display the correct product listings.

Error 404 pages are an often-overlooked opportunity in e-commerce. For such pages, instead of discouraging a user away from your site, you may include best-sellers, current sales, promotions, trending product lists, etc that help customers discover products they want to buy.

Dedicated Landing Pages and Secondary Product Discovery

For customers who are looking for gift ideas, landing pages dedicated to best-sellers and trending product listings can be a boon. These pages are also great to include in subscriber email series. Popular products are automatically more desirable and dedicated landing pages are a great way to take advantage of that. 

All of the above takes place fairly early in the customer shopping journey. On the other hand, there is a further possibility of upselling using product discovery that you can place at the time of purchase. You can add product recommendations and items that are frequently bought together, and include products to ‘complete the look’. Another enticing option for online shoppers is to provide them with an opportunity to get free shipping by adding extra products to increase the size of the order or provide discounts for bundled products. These practices can aid in driving up average order values by cross-selling and upselling products.

We hope this was a helpful guide to optimizing your product discovery. From creating an optimized home page to offering secondary product discovery options, it is up to you how to implement these ideas in your online store to drive revenues.

Now that we’ve seen how product discovery can be a crucial tool for conversion, here’s how leveraging AI for product categorization can help narrow search results.

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shopping cart filled with groceries in a supermarket aisle

What to Expect from Online Shopping in 2019?

What to Expect from Online Shopping in 2019?

Retail is changing at lightning speed and as we move towards the end of the year, as consumers begin anticipating what their shopping experience will look like in 2019. Retailers continue to evolve in a highly competitive world where delivery, customer experience, and convenience are the main factors that seal the fate of any store - forcing some into bankruptcy and propelling some into profits.

Here are five things to look forward to in retail next year, and most of them include technology:

More online grocery shopping

Despite having a small portion of consumers using online grocery shopping, industry experts expect digital sales to reach 20 percent of the total grocery market by 2025. Many retailers are partnering with third-party delivery companies such as Shipt and Instacart, enabling many consumers to order groceries from anywhere in a click or tap of a button. Soon, consumers will increasingly order online.

This includes both delivery and ordering online to pick up in store. It’s also expected that social media platforms like Instagram will continue discovering new ways to convince consumers to buy online.

Voice Retail

Experts say shoppers will increasingly pick up voice shopping through smartphones, Amazon devices, and vehicles.

Consumers with Alexa-enabled devices are already able to purchase their groceries, home goods, and gifts through Amazon and Whole Foods Market. But other retailers are starting to get in on the action.

Kroger recently announced plans to roll out voice ordering through Alexa-enabled devices and Amazon has released software that allows developers to integrate Alexa in vehicle infotainment systems.

More private labels

 Private labels have proven successful in the eyes of consumers this year. Dozens of retailers including Target, Kroger, Walmart, Aldi, and Amazon have expanded private label offerings this year.

Private labels are notorious for adding exclusivity that builds customer loyalty, all while keeping profit margins high without suppliers taking their cuts. Many of the retailers have passed the savings to the consumer with low-cost private labels that are increasingly growing in popularity.

Growth in artificial intelligence

Retailers have used artificial intelligence to learn consumer and market habits. The technology becomes increasingly beneficial for online retailers looking to upsell without a physical salesperson. Different subscription services like Stitch Fix and Kidbox have used AI to analyze subscriber data to recommend products that increase relevance and are more likely to be purchased.

Retailers are trying to use AI to expand holiday shopping earlier as well, learning what consumers will want most around the holidays as early in the year as possible. The intelligence can help spread out orders so delivery systems won’t become as congested close to the holidays.

More interactive aisles

As consumer shopping habits shift to favor experience, retailers are scrambling to find ways to draw crowds into stores. In 2019, augmented reality and virtual reality are likely to take a stronger foothold in all types of brick-and-mortar stores.

 For example, Kettering-based Marxent has developed augmented reality technology for Macy’s to show how furniture could look without having to purchase the items.

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Endless Aisles: An extension of the retail in-store shelf

Endless Aisles: An extension of the retail in-store shelf

Given that the retail space is extremely competitive, most retailers are racing first to offer their customers as much product selection as possible. For e-commerce, it’s easier to offer a variety of products, but with brick-and-mortar, it’s far more difficult to stock so many products as compared to its e-commerce counterpart. With a finite amount of shelf space, stores can only stock a limited number of products.

Here is when endless aisles can come into play: Endless aisles help merge the online offerings and the in-store location offerings to bring the best shopping experience for the shopper.

What are endless aisles?

iQmetrix defines it as, “the concept of using in-store kiosks to allow customers to order products that are out of stock or not sold in-store and have them shipped to their homes.”

Alternatively, retailers can choose to ship products that are out of stock directly to the customer’s doorstep. This can be done by partnering with third-party suppliers to fulfill the customer’s order. This leads to a continuous customer experience while not having to deal with suppliers, and also giving the retailers access to endless inventory without the need to warehouse it, benefitting the retailers.

The Endless aisles service acts as a bridge, carrying the products available online into the actual store. This is fundamentally another version of the in-store pick-up (click and collect) option. Leveraging digital portals, retailers can offer these services.

The Benefits of Endless Aisles

Retailers that have their businesses that are both online and in-store, offering endless aisles is a great way to capitalize on the complete product selection without the need to have inventory for each product across different store locations. The extra stock can be stored in warehouses or with third-party supplies that would directly ship to the customers’ doorsteps.

Another benefit is that by offering customers a variety of selection at the brick-and-mortar locations, retailers are decreasing the likelihood of customers going to a competitor store to make a purchase.

Furthermore, Endless aisles help to capitalize on the buyer intent that brought them to the store in the first place, without losing sales due to out of stock items. These customers can subsequently be enticed to move towards shopping online as well.

Retailers can do so by educating the customers about the online offerings, even providing a smooth and memorable user experience right from order to delivery. This way, these customers are more likely to become online shoppers in the future.

Endless aisles also enable retailers to partner with third-party suppliers, in turn, increasing the quantity and variety of products that they can offer, which can impress the customers.

Some of the challenges 

There are a few challenges retailers must keep in mind while implementing endless aisles for their businesses -

Inventory management is imperative when it comes to endless aisles, as there should be a perfect sync between the orders displayed online and the inventory.

Keeping track of multiple orders happening across different sales channels requires a centralized system of orders. Orders placed on the various sales channels cannot be managed on the respective platforms as it is inefficient.

Moreover, tracking order status and inventory levels across the various channels also pose a problem when fulfilling in-store orders with drop shippers or via online channels. Hence having a centralized system is important. There are some tools available in the market to enable the centralization such as Zapier to add new orders from the several sales channels and Order desk to streamline all the workflow.

Conclusion

With online retail undergoing a massive revolution, many customers still opt to shop from brick and mortar stores. Endless Aisles represents a literal blend of virtual technology into the physical store to deliver an enhanced and seamless customer experience for the newer generation demographics. Implementing the endless aisle strategy enables retailers in reducing the physical inventory and floor space while, in tandem, enhancing the product assortment and customer experience.

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