Regardless of industry, consumers today are faced with an overwhelming array of choice while shopping. When faced with so many options, most consumers fall victim to ‘choice paralysis’, which describes the moment when we are faced with more possibilities than we can easily comprehend.
This phenomenon results in low purchase decision confidence and frustration – and in the worst case – feeling unable to make a decision, meaning no action is taken at all. For brands and retailers choice paralysis translates as abandonment. So, how can you balance the discerning consumers’ need for choice, with providing a customer experience that delivers what they want, at speed and scale?
Delivering what consumers want
Our latest research reveals that with more choices available, consumers increasingly expect the brands and retailers they interact with to provide a frictionless experience, guiding them to the perfect products and services. In fact, 42% of consumers admit to abandoning a planned purchase because of too many options and 54% have abandoned a particular site because it was too difficult to find the right product. Most (71%) will switch to a competitor that makes finding and choosing the right product easier.
Delivering experiences that feel “human” across digital channels may seem contradictory, but this human aspect is extremely important for removing friction from the customer experience, especially at scale. Companies that can engage with their consumers in a uniquely personal and contextual conversation across digital channels will convert more and see higher levels of customer loyalty. This is particularly important in today’s culture of immediacy, which has fundamentally changed the nature of customer-business relations.
Mike George, president and CEO at QVC summed it up perfectly when he said: “With all technology, we see consumers craving to bring humanity back to an increasingly impersonal world and increasingly impersonal shopping experience. We need to find ways to simplify the overwhelming complexity of the world we live in.”
Demand for digital assistants
Shoppers in bricks and mortar stores, engage with friendly, trained sales reps to receive personalised assistance to help find the right product for their specific needs, but this experience is largely missing on digital channels.
The expectation from brands and retailers is that consumers should self-serve and navigate thousands of products to find the one for them, but consumers expect a seamless and personalised shopping experience. Despite an affinity for faster and smarter technologies, consumers still want to be treated as human beings with personal and unique preferences, which is fuelling the demand for conversational commerce experiences and digital assistants.
The importance of this trend was covered recently in this piece on the BBC’s Beeb and the report from the Capgemini Research Institute. In the last five years the implementation of digital assistants has skyrocketed 809%!
AI digital assistants engage confused consumers in a dynamic conversation, asking intelligent questions to understand their interests and needs, to educate and guide them to a curated shortlist of products which are highly relevant. Our research shows that one of the most significant benefits of digital assistants is their ability to improve customers’ decision confidence, thereby allowing them to have a more fulfilling buying experience.
In fact, 54% indicate that using a digital assistant would make them very or extremely more confident when making a purchase decision – and the results speak for themselves. It’s something we’re seeing from our own clients, some of which are securing upwards of 20% increases in both sales and order value. Digital assistants also uncover data blindspots to uncover valuable insights on which products sell and why, and deliver consumer insights that can be used to fuel hyper-personalized marketing.
The speed of technological advancement means it is more important than ever. Companies must pay attention and respond to trends in consumer behaviour and preferences. Consumers today demand personalised guidance from brands when they're shopping online, as well as in-store. This conversational approach to commerce increases decision-making confidence, reduces friction and choice overload.
For consumers, trust, advice, and support are closely related and are the necessary building blocks for creating a genuine, trusted relationship with customers, thereby driving growth and loyalty. By tailoring the experience with conversational marketing and digital assistant strategies, brands can be sure that potential customers are receiving the necessary guidance to actually making a confident purchase.
But earning consumers’ trust requires businesses to listen to and understand their needs to offer the right products and services. Forget click-based personalization or mindless retargeting – the future is all about conversations.
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