Last night RichRelevance and Shop Direct were crowned as leaders at The Retail Systems Awards at the Millennium Hotel, in Mayfair, London.
About 15 years ago, I was working for a little marketing agency creating banners and ads for websites. On average, a client had around 10-12 such banners. The rule of thumb was that if a banner was relevant to about 80% of the audience, we’d build it. A “20% off everything“ for everyone campaign would surely meet this criteria. Building a banner targeted to a handful of shoppers was simply not done, it was unthinkable.
You spend a lot of time optimizing your website to streamline the shopper’s path through the retail funnel—making sure they see value at each point along the way. Once you navigate the shopper to the right product, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to seal the deal, and get the shopper across the finish line.
The cart page is a pivotal area for securing that conversion. When done well, you’ll get the sale, and then potentially entice the shopper to buy more items. When done poorly, you’ll disrupt conversion by distracting the shopper from the transaction you’ve fought so hard to get.
And so we ask: How smart is your cart?
At RichRelevance, we’re sensitive to the cart page experience, and work closely with our retail partners to implement solutions deep in the funnel that will grow cart values without compromising conversion. Here are three things you can do with product recommendations to substantially enhance your cart page experience:
1. Get out of the way
Securing conversion is our primary objective on the cart page. If we can get the shopper to buy more stuff and grow the order value, that’s phenomenal! But, it shouldn’t compromise completing the sale. The location of recommendations must reflect this prioritization and not interfere with the shopper consuming information critical to the buying decision.
As such, recommendations must be on the periphery of core content such as the cart summary, checkout call-to-action, promotional code inputs, and other key messaging and functionality. This usually means slotting a vertical placement in the right margin or a horizontal placement underneath the main content area. Otherwise, if more prominently placed, you’re baiting customers to continue shopping, which can be extremely disruptive to conversion.
2. Recommend complementary, non-competitive products
When you finally get the shopper to the cart page, it’s critical not to challenge their decision to buy. If they add a TV to their shopping bag, they’ve demonstrated a degree of commitment that we shouldn’t impede by recommending another TV upon landing on the cart page. Instead of being helpful, that would be frustrating to the shopper, and elicitreconsideration at a point when a shopper should be firm about their core purchase
On the cart page, it’s imperative to use cross-sell recommendations that display products most often purchased with the seed item. However, since these kinds of recommendations rely on purchase behavior at the individual product level, something that happens much less frequently than browse activity, , it can be challenging for behavioral recommendations systems to always deliver intuitive cross-sell recommendations across a retailer’s entire catalog.
As an example, if a specific TV model has only been purchased 50 times in recent history, that’s probably not enough transactions to reliably identify four or five logical products that are commonly purchased with it. You can overcome this dilemma, in 2 ways:
I. Incorporate point-of-sale (POS) data in recommendations. If you have a brick-and-mortar presence, you probably have more offline POS transactions than online sales. Incorporating those in your online recommendations will provide a wealth of data from which to identify logical product associations.
II. Employ rule-based recommendations. Create a set of advanced merchandising rules that governs what is recommended in cross-sell situations. For each category of products, define what categories you want represented in each recommendation slot—and then let the engine source products based on whatever brand, attribute or compatibility-matching requirements you might have configured.
Ok, so now you have well-placement recommendations and you’ve optimized your cross-sell assortment across your entire catalog. What’s left?
3. Optimize your recommendations layout
Once you’ve gotten the shopper to the cart page, create inertia that pushes them through the checkout process rather than casting them out to higher parts of the funnel. You can do this by presenting a recommendation layout that facilitates exploring a product and adding it to cart without leaving the current page. Implement ‘quick view’ functionality on recommendations that allows a shopper to access product information, configuration options (e.g., size/color), and add-to-cart capabilities with a single click. Without this functionality, you’re forcing shoppers to leave the cart page to explore recommended products, and they may never come back.
Your cart page is sacred as it’s the gateway to more cash in your coffers. It’s imperative that the page experience drive shoppers to transact rather than pull them into a dangerous loop of product reconsideration. These are merely a small sample of tactics RichRelevance has deployed and validated using rigorous A/B and multivariate testing. We strongly encourage you to consider these optimizations for your retail site. They’ll make your cart smarter, protect your conversions, and grow your order values.
Last week over 200 in-store innovators from 120 enterprise retailers, gathered at Future Stores in the Victoria Park Plaza in London. The event is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for retailers seeking practical solutions to accelerate their in-store transformation projects from concept to reality.
There were many interesting topics covered from in-store design to leveraging data from digital channels to adapt in-store experiences. The common thread throughout all the conversations, presentations and debate – was putting the customer at the heart of all strategies and initiatives; from driving customer engagement to improving their experience and making their shopping journey as easy as possible.
One of the most interesting debates was about the use of technology in-store. It was abundantly clear retailers are either embracing it or running in the opposite direction. There are perfectly legitimate reasons as to why a retailer is on one side of the fence or the other.
Where a retailer has a high turnover of sales staff with busy stores and peaks at checkout tills, utilizing technology on the shop floor can certainly enhance the customer’s experience. In this scenario, arming sales assistants with access to stock levels, personalized recommendations and complementary products plus the ability to take payments on the shop floor, improves the experience for customers, saving them time and results in more sales and less returns.
However, if a retailer has highly trained, loyal sales assistants who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic product advocates, who act as personal advisors to their shoppers, supporting technology to help the sales process is arguably reduced.
Regardless of the environment or scenario, it’s agreed that technologies introduced to the in-store experience should be complementary to the shopping journey – not a distraction for associates and shoppers alike.
Ultimately, it will be the customer who decides. As our ‘Creepy/Cool’ survey from 2015 revealed, shoppers also have different attitudes towards technology in-store. Where some shoppers embrace features such as facial recognition and interactive mirrors making product suggestions in changing rooms as cool, others are turned off at the mere thought. Therefore, the type of customer a retailer has will influence their use of technology in-store. That said, attitudes can and often do change over time, and I’m certainly looking forward to the latest ‘Creepy/Cool’ survey results, which are out in the next few weeks.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the debate at Future Stores, and we’re looking forward to their next event in Seattle in just a few weeks time.
The usage of proximity-based beacons seems to have floundered since they were introduced in 2013. After reading this very interesting article about the Regent Street App, it is obvious why. Unfortunately, many retailers, and even some tech companies, think of beacons as just a tool to trigger push notifications. From this perspective it is understandable why many would assume that beacons do more damage than good; using beacons to trigger endless location-based notifications would equate to a type of spam, resulting in an irritated customer.
In truth, beacons are way more than a vehicle for push notifications if you understand how to use them correctly. Here’s why:
Beacons are dumb, technically speaking. The only thing they do is broadcast a specific string. For example, the beacon might broadcast its name and location, such as number 123. That’s all. It’s up to the application and infrastructure behind the beacon to make any sense of it. Essentially, beacons are passive and can be used to deliver whatever string it is programmed to.
Ok, so now you’re thinking: what does that mean and how should retailers use them?
Here’s some food for beacon-thought. Please note that this is by no means a comprehensive list of beacon applications. However, if you are using a sophisticated personalization platform, these should all be relatively simple to deploy:
Suppose you only have one beacon in a chain of stores and an app that can pick up the signal. What can you do with it? First you can provide the beacon with the name of your store, for example: “New York, 5th Avenue”. Once the shopper enters the store and the app picks up the beacon, you can write this event in a centralized user profile so that you know that specific shopper entered that specific store. Based on this information, you can then determine the frequency the shopper comes into your store(s). If you find the shopper frequents one store more often than others, you can determine this is his/her preferred store. Once you know his preferred store, you can send him promotions and offers from that specific store and always make sure you show the inventory of products at that location.
If you place beacons around the store in departments such as shoes, coats and perfumes. When the shopper opens up the app in the store, the app picks up the the signal of the beacon; the beacon will know where the shopper is specifically in the store and will display the appropriate and relevant content. When the app is opened in the shoes department, it will show content for shoes. When it’s in the perfumes section, it will show content for perfumes – you get the idea. The information about which department has been visited can be stored in the centralized user profile, so that when the user logs onto his/her mobile device or home computer, he or she is greeted with relevant content.
Given that the beacon has learned and retained all of this information in the centralized user profile, a retailer can leverage these learning and behaviors to intelligently re-engage and welcome the shopper when he/she returns to the store. With every trigger, previous behaviors can be recalled to facilitate a curated conversation and a customer experience that learns and adapts with the customer.
Connecting the Dots
Another valuable type of information is offline purchase data, which can be ingested into the centralized user profile through the means of a loyalty card program or e-receipts. When you find that a shopper visited the fragrance department and viewed various fragrances on his/her mobile while navigating the store, but ultimately didn’t purchase a fragrance, you can re-engage with him/her by triggering personalized email with content from this section and products he/she looked at.
The retail landscape demands that the customer experience becomes simpler, more intuitive and more personal than ever before. And today, every shopper navigates the aisles and departments of his or her preferred retailers with mobile devices in hand; beacons help connect the customer journey, bringing the digital and physical worlds together for a harmonious experience.
Although we may not be flying around in rocket ships quite yet, retail today is about as futuristic as anyone could have imagined. It’s hard to envision a world without the 24/7 on-demand access to the endless aisles of ecommerce retail. Personalization has played a huge role in, not only the success of companies like Amazon, but the advancements in ecommerce and retail as a whole. Personalization has enabled retailers to create digital channels that feel as intimate and customer-oriented as a physical store; so over time consumers feel recognized as unique individuals in their shopping journeys.
So what is next in the world of retail personalization?
In an effort to identify the top of mind personalization trends for retailers and brands in 2016, RichRelevance reviewed the requests for proposals (RFPs) from 2015. The retailer RFPs reviewed were largely represented by Internet Retailer’s Top 100 in North America and were retailers who made over $75 billion in aggregated revenue.
Overall, we can see how retailers are uniting the consumer experience. Over the next year, retailers will leverage personalization to bring together all digital and physical channels – to create true omnichannel customer experiences based on three key trends.
Trend 1: Completing Personalization
Retailers today are laser focused on enhancing shopper experiences by using data that is readily available across channels. With every additional touch point and channel, retailers have been granted the gift of data. Until now little has been done to leverage the information retailers have gathered and most of the data has not been synthesized to create an omnichannel experience. To fully implement personalization retailers require a powerful personalization platform to ingest retail data from feeds such as smartphones, tablets, point-of-sale systems, inventory and contact centers. The more data points a retailer collects and integrates, the more seamless a customer experience becomes across channels.
For example, consider how things might be merchandised in stores versus how they’re displayed online – what departments are physically next to each other or across the aisle, and how leveraging purchase data from the store could positively impact online engagement and sales.
Integrating personalization from third party vendors and channels also plays a crucial role in unifying all the elements of the consumer’s physical and digital world. By influencing personalization with geographic, demographic, weather and loyalty components adds an incremental layer of sophistication and relevance.
Trend 2: Enabling Smarter Associates
Tying directly into Trend 1, leads us to the next trend of enabling smarter associates. Today’s retailer wants to enable customer-facing personnel with digital technologies to help associates deliver in real time the highest level of customer service possible. By using a personalization platform that synthesizes human intelligence with artificial intelligence the retail associate can leverage all cross channel customer data, product details and content at every interaction.
One of the biggest challenges in retail is bringing together all shopping channels to deliver a seamless customer experience. An ideal experience has no friction, so that when a consumer walks into a store or calls the contact center, the retail representative already knows everything that customer has looked at, purchased and even returned over the years. To solve this problem of eliminating friction to consumers, retailers are launching a variety of associate-facing applications for use in stores and even contact centers. These applications recall all previous and current customer behaviors/purchases in real time so that an associate can offer a level of customer service that is complementary to the individual’s history, tastes and preferences.
Enabling smarter associates will also play a big role in personalizing contact or call centers. By leveraging different types of clienteling applications, agents will no longer need to spend time determining who a shopper is or what they want. The application will give the agent a real-time view into recent browsing history and purchases across channels to offer a relevant response right from the start.
Trend 3: Launching Tech Savvy Stores
In an effort to combat the strong footprint that the Amazon and other pure play ecommerce retailers have acquired over the last decade, multichannel retailers are bringing technology to the storefront. Retailers are creating unique and innovative shopping experiences to tend to the zero-friction shopping needs of the modern consumer.
A great example of in-store innovation includes the Intelligent Fitting Rooms that leverage RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags to recognize clothing that is brought into the fitting room. By integrating this technology in the fitting room, retailers can help shoppers find alternate sizes and offer intelligent recommendations to suggest alternatives or assist in completing a look.
In summary, this is the year of a unified customer experience placing great focus on cross-channel shoppers, anticipating their needs and catering to them with services that previously didn’t exist. The three trends of completing personalization, enabling smarter associates and launching tech savvy stores create an sophisticated and seamless omnichannel experience for the shopper, and ultimately allow personalization technologies to influence even more of the consumer experience than ever before.
For more 2016 insights visit us at our RelevanceTV YouTube channel.