Make Online Shopping More Human to Cure Choice Overload
For a long time, common business perception was that customers demanded having more choices. However, a new study surveying consumers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany shows that expectations of consumers are more nuanced. Consumers do want more choices, but they don’t want to be overwhelmed by them. More is less. Choice overload, customer confusion and indecision are the precursors to disgruntled customers and declining sales.
Forty-two percent of consumers said they had completely abandoned a planned purchase because of choice overload. In fact, 54 percent have stopped purchasing products from a retailer or brand website that made it too difficult to choose the right product, and 71 percent have switched to a competitor that made it easier to find and select the right product.
Humanizing Digital 2020, a study commissioned by digital advice technology provider SMARTASSISTANT, reveals that a vast majority of online shoppers are affected by the problem of decision paralysis in the face of too many choices.
Choice overload is a legitimate problem, and the above numbers indicate that it’s causing businesses to lose sales opportunities. The negative implications for businesses will increase if they do not make the necessary steps to improve the customer journey to allow non-experts and unsure consumers to make confident purchase decisions quickly and easily.
The report shows that 68 percent of shoppers want their favorite brands and retailers to provide them honest and personal advice on what products best suit their needs. Customers expect a much more personalized shopping experience within digital channels. They want their go-to-retailer and brand to know what’s best for them. Steve Jobs said it perfectly, “It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.” Brands and retailers need to understand customers and their challenges to provide them with appropriate support in all channels.
An interesting study finding is that consumers appreciate near-human decision support online, one that resembles a friendly, knowledgeable sales attendant at a physical store. Forty-six percent of consumers found that it was beneficial if brands and retailers integrate digital sales assistants on their websites to help them choose the right product.
Artificial intelligence-driven digital assistants are conversational solutions that ask the right needs-based questions and guide shoppers to the most suitable products. They not only dramatically reduce the number of product choices the customer has to evaluate, but they also make the selection more relevant, allowing shoppers to save time and make purchase decisions faster.
Eighty-one percent of surveyed consumers indicated that using a digital sales assistant would make them very or extremely more confident when making a purchase decision.
Online shoppers are calling out for a more human-friendly, cooperative, frictionless and seamless product-finding experience that provides them with the perfect products.
As customer expectations continue to grow and alternatives with better choosing experiences are only a few clicks away, retailers and brands are encouraged to make personal assistance and guidance available at the right moment, just when customers need it. This means understanding needs and using intelligence to provide personal, digital assistance in real time.
The retailers and brands that are already working on humanizing interactions in digital channels will be the ones to gain a distinctive edge, grow sales and win a loyal customer base.
Markus Linder is founder and president of SMARTASSISTANT, a digital advice technology company that aims to help customers choose and businesses sell.
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