In a world of increasing choice, it is up to retailers to make sure every customer can find exactly what they are looking for with ease
Right now, choice paralysis is a real concern for both consumers and retailers. The endless aisles and vast product catalogues are pervasive online. Countless Covid-induced lockdowns around the globe have pushed brands to invest heavily in their web presence. Helping consumers make sense of the dizzying array of items available is now crucial. It’s why product discovery is the new battleground.
“Every brand is vying for the consumer’s attention. The competition is as fierce at any point in history. It’s not just among online stores, it occurs on different platforms as well, particularly social media, whether it’s on Instagram or TikTok, marketplaces like Amazon or Farfetch,” explains Mark Adams, CEO of Attraqt, a global leader in product discovery, search, merchandising, and personalisation solutions for omnichannel retailers and brands.
“At the same time the ecommerce shopping environment is utterly unforgiving. If a brand doesn’t serve up a product that is hyper-relevant instantly and conveniently to a customer on their preferred channel, the opportunity will vanish. They will go elsewhere. You are a click away from irrelevance.”
The world of retail has shifted rapidly in the last 19 months. Legacy brands have upped their game in the digital space. Many more hyper-local, small businesses have launched online and are patronised by loyal customers. At the same time costs are rising, with constrained supply chains and staff shortages. Shopping behaviour is increasingly unpredictable, while the market is hyper-competitive.
“During the height of the pandemic consumers shifted completely to online. New habits were formed that haven’t gone away. In the process, many customers have new and heightened expectations when they hit a retailer’s website,” states the CEO of AIM-listed Attraqt, which works with some of the biggest names in retail from Asos to Waitrose, JD Sports to Missguided.
“Search queries that end with no results, because an item isn’t in stock can mean a lost sale. That can be the end of the customer experience. There is nothing that is going to annoy a customer more at a time when every conversion matters.”
Brands are increasingly turning to AI-powered search, where algorithms offer up alternatives to those products that are out of stock. Making sense of every search query and offering up products based on machine learning is vital if retailers don’t want to lose business.
“Search relevancy has become crucial, people don’t have time to browse vast product catalogues. When they enter a query, they want highly accurate results at lightning speed. This can now be achieved. We can also eliminate zero results for searches. This offers more opportunity for sales and conversions,” details Adams from Attraqt, which works with 300 high-growth retail brands around the world.
The latest frontier for product discovery is social selling. With many more items shared on Twitter, Pinterest or TikTok, consumers need to be able to access products posted by influencers and celebrities in an instant, otherwise opportunities are lost.
“Being able to support the product discovery journey with enriched data that retailers can send to social channels in a dependable way and provide a consistent brand experience wherever the consumer is browsing is vital. This is really the future of where retail is heading, and where we are investing in,” says Adams.
Personalisation is increasingly important. If retail brands know more about you, they can tailor products to individual customers, based on your browsing history and recent purchases, matching this with product and customer data.
“Many retailers misunderstand the opportunity with personalisation because they often just group customers’ behaviour into segments and offer up relevant products based on your segment. But understanding the uniqueness of an individual consumer and creating that relevant relationship with them on a one-to-one basis, this is where personalisation is going,” highlights Adams.
“This will drive more engagement with consumers and ultimately drive better results for retailers. One-to-one personalisation is going to be big, that’s what we’re focused on with our technology.”
The growth engine for product discovery is at attraqt.com