How AI-powered guided selling creates personalized customer experiences

With the holiday season on the horizon, brands are looking to gain a leg up on their industry competition. Given that many customers will buy some, if not all, of their holiday gifts online, identifying ways to capitalize on the increased demand for e-commerce can make or break an organization’s holiday profit potential. As the state of retail technology advances, businesses are learning how to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools to deliver more personalized online shopping experiences.

In any omnichannel approach to sales, it’s essential to consider how to replicate the best parts of an in-store experience online. Online retailers are always looking for ways to simulate guided selling – the process in which a sales associate engages a customer in their specific needs and guides them to the perfect item without further exploration or research. This simple tool for a website can be implemented even after a code freeze, adding an engaging and reactive layer to the online shopping experience. By employing AI-powered technology, the guided selling process can now be enhanced and simplified through the power of automation.

Beyond the transaction itself, guided selling provides brands with data that can lead to a deeper and more intuitive understanding of their consumers. Learning how customers respond to recommendations for specific products allows brands to better understand what consumers are looking for and why. Real-time visibility allows them to build their offers around which items are purchased most frequently, which product upgrades are most compelling, and which factors are most important in determining the customer’s final purchase decision.

The fastest path to the perfect product

Guided selling is an interactive method to help customers quickly identify the right product for them. In industries like apparel or electronics, where specific sizes, brands, and types make all the difference, having a tool to reduce the research time required by the customer makes for a smoother customer experience. For example, a customer purchasing wireless or Bluetooth speakers doesn’t want to waste time comparing sizes or compatibility specifications for every available product. Your purchase decision will be influenced by convenience and relevance.

AI-powered guided selling can be accomplished in a number of different ways. First, it requires adopting a dynamic e-commerce platform that can engage customers in real time, asking relevant questions to identify the item they are interested in. Organizations can set up a stream of questions that build on each other to present personalized product recommendations to a customer for the unique product that is best for them. The end result is a selection or series of selections that feel personalized to the shopper. Shoppers arrive at the desired product faster and with more confidence that it is the right item for them.

Benefits for both the client and the company

The benefits of guided selling are clear. A more streamlined experience that leads to smart buying decisions is a crucial driver of consumer brand loyalty. Evidence suggests that in the near future, High-quality customer experiences will surpass product quality and price as the most critical factor in differentiating between brands..

Implementing AI-powered guided selling tools within an eCommerce platform enables brands to reduce choice paralysis and purchase fatigue, leading to higher conversion rates and happier customers. For brands to stand out against their competition this holiday season, the focus needs to be squarely on the customer experience. Guided selling will soon no longer be a fun option for brands to stand out in their field, but a necessary practice to provide the best service available online. 2022 Omnichannel Retail Index shows that only 26% of retailers offer guided sales, giving multiple retailers the opportunity to stand out this holiday season.

Want more information from the 2022 Omnichannel Retail Index to guide your 2023 strategies and tactics? Watch our recent webinar with Bernardine Wu from OSF Digital and Rob Garf from Salesforce now!

Kathy Kimple is the executive director of OSF Digital’s strategy group. She leverages more than 25 years in omnichannel retail with a focus on brands, covering digital strategy and store operations, registration, marketing, technology selection, and organizational design.

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