Did you know that almost half (48%) of page views are anonymous? I suppose this wouldn’t be so concerning if it didn’t result in 13% anonymous purchases. If only online shopping were simple and mandated that users login and only had one account, this problem would be solved, unfortunately for us, this isn’t the world we live in. So how do we encourage more logins?
You could do what Priceline.com did and run a TV ad saying, “If you don’t sign-in you’ll die”, but I’m inclined to think this might be too racy for many of you. That said, they made their point, and if you do sign-in, not only will you not ‘die’ but you’ll also get a better deal.
Here are some ideas for how to increase your logins and simultaneously enhance your personalization capabilities.
Start with the 4 P’s:
- Product: Provide better products or features to those who login. Amazon, Wine.com, Nordstrom, Williams-Sonoma, JCPenney and many others provide product recommendations pages that are much more relevant when you are logged in.
- Placement: Provide personalized features in all channels including desktop web, mobile web, email, mobile app and mobile app used in-store.
- Price: Offer better prices or relevant discounts when logged in.
- Promotion: Personalize coupons, special offers and discounts. Starbucks’ mobile app is a great example. Still, many users won’t login until just before purchasing. Two ways to get the most from personalization for users who aren’t logged-in are:
- Soft logins: This is when a user logs-in on a device, the retailer writes their user ID to a first-party cookie, the user logs out, and the retailer continues to use their user ID for the current and subsequent visits. Many retailers put a time limit on the cookie, such as 14 days between logins.
- Provisional user ID: A temporary ID whose behavioral history is copied to a user profile when the user eventually does login. RichRelevance can use our third-party cookie IDs or a retailer’s session ID as the provisional ID.
User matching comes in many shapes and sizes, the complexities of data and channels have created an entirely new obstacle for retailers and brands to overcome. Some select flavors include multiple accounts per user, matching in-store and web shoppers, cross-device and cross-brand matching. While the user matching hurdle might seem unattainable, trust me it’s not. There are many ways to not only combat the user matching problem, but to also make great use of the surplus of data that becomes available with a multitude of users even if they’re the same person.
To learn more about how you can start matching users and creating more robust and complete shopper profiles download our latest white paper, The 5 Types of User Matching Challenges and How to Solve Them.
*RichRelevance analysis of 3.7 billion page views across a dozen countries on 100 of the largest websites using RichRelevance technology
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.
With one of the largest direct competitors, Amazon, Book People needed a solution to wow customers through creating innovative and personalized experiences, without presenting the customer with too much choice.
Read the case study to learn how Book People implemented both Recommend™ and Engage™ to improve conversion rate and remain competitive.
Shoppers with intent to buy only find what they are looking for half the time. That’s not good enough.
Amazon has one. So does Saks and Michael Kors. The search box—nestled at the top of the home page or hidden in the upper right corner—is an essential feature of retailers across the Internet Retailer 100, 500 and 1000.
Spend a little time with on-site search on a retail site, and you’ll quickly realize that it hasn’t evolved much since Endeca hit the scene in 1999. Seventeen years of search technology and e-commerce advances have not led to meaningful innovation. Instead, shoppers attuned to Pinterest and Pokemon Go are stuck in a digital time warp of unfriendly text boxes and unhelpful results.
Site search is broken, and for retailers, the consequences are worse than you may realize.
The outward problem is what Brigham Young University professor Michael Hendron calls “findability.” Drawing from multiple sources, Hendron notes that 30% of e-commerce visitors use site search, and highly coveted buyers are 90% more likely to use site search. However, buyers only find what they’re looking for in 50% of all site searches.
When did we, as an industry, deem a 50% failure rate acceptable?
Until recently, selling something online was a challenge unto itself. Engineers designed user experiences around technical requirements, not the emotional needs of human beings. “Does this work?” was their driving question. In design, means took a backseat to ends. In the process, the most important questions took a backseat too. How do I feel when I visit this site? What is it like to shop here? How easy is it to find and buy things I want?
Failed design is certainly not unique to search. In Seth Godin’s famous TED Talk, “This is broken,” the marketing guru examines comically poor design and ponders why it happens. His seven reasons have a common denominator: a lack of empathy.
Empathy, by definition, requires understanding. But an overwhelming majority of search boxes don’t understand what people want, as a 2014 study by the Baymard Institute illustrates. Of the 50 top-grossing U.S. e-commerce websites, 70% required you to search in the website’s jargon (“blow dryer” can’t replace “hair dryer”), more than half couldn’t support thematic searches (“beach” or “cold weather”), and although 82% offered auto-suggestions, 36% of the implementations did “more harm than good.”
If you told a retail associate, “Hi, I need a hoodie for cold weather sports,” she wouldn’t say, “Sports? Never heard of them.” Likewise, the associate wouldn’t say, “Well, we only sell ‘hooded sweatshirts.’ Bye.” These situations happen on web and mobile—and nowhere else.
Shoppers today can purchase almost anything online; credit cards and free shipping and returns have removed the magic from online shopping. Therefore, the ease, simplicity, and quality of the process matter more than ever to attract, win and retain customers. The customer experience is the biggest differentiation.
To become unbroken, site search has to strike a balance between technical requirements and empathy. Three principles can help it get there:
1. Prioritize Findability. Many e-commerce sites look at shopper conversion rates without examining the effort it took to make that purchase. Running 32 searches to buy one pair of jeans does not qualify as easy or effective for anyone but the most devoted shopper.
Examine what does and does not happen on your website. Did the buyer search “shoes” and stay on the results page? Did she scroll, browse, or search by category? How many queries did she run? Using what words? What abbreviations, synonyms, and themes lead to dead ends on your website? Identify where findability falls apart and use these insights to better serve your customers.
2. Entice. Make it easy to find goods, but do not rush shoppers to the finale. Inside the actual search results, give people the freedom to explore, play, and learn before they commit to a purchase. The best way to do this: Replace static lists and grids with gorgeous visuals, dynamic movement, and interactivity.
For example, why not let shoppers digitally mix and match bikini tops and bottoms? Why not rearrange images as the search term takes shape to create a dynamic experience that improves on Pinterest and Instagram? Just like in-store visitors, online shoppers need the inspiration, space and guidance to validate their decision. Search can create or kill that space.
3. Personalize. Just as the best associate knows the style of her regular customers, the search bar should know a shopper’s demonstrated preferences. It should be able to suggest search results based on past purchases, searches, browsing patterns, social media activity, and other unique criteria.
To be clear, personalization is different from bare-bones autocomplete or autosuggest, which offer results based on generic parameters. With personalization in play, no two shoppers have an identical search experience.
Site search is fixable and ripe for disruption. Now that engineers have the leeway to think logically and psychologically, e-commerce will find a balance between function and findability. Site search is broken, but not for long.
Last week over 300 in-store innovators from over 150 retailers gathered in Seattle for the 2016 Future Stores Conference. Future Stores brings together retail operations, omnichannel, customer experience and IT executives to focus on in-store innovation and how to bridge the digital and physical retail environments. As part of this we learned that there’s a fine line between creepy and cool, especially when it comes to digital technologies in-store.
If you can recall a time pre-Facebook Newsfeed, or dare I say Facebook in general, then you know how easily perceptions of personal privacy invasion can be shifted. 15 years ago virtually everything about the Internet would have been perceived as outrageously invasive and today we welcome and seek out attention from strangers via likes on social channels. So in interest of keeping a real-time pulse on what customers think is actually cool today vs. what’s really just creepy, we’ve conducted our ‘Creepy or Cool’ Survey for the second year running.
So here’s what’s up:
This is what’s really totally cool (dare we say awesome):
You can scan a product on your mobile device to see product reviews and recommendations for other items you might like.
Overall: 79% cool; Millennials: 84% cool
Soon after you leave the store, you receive a digital coupon for a product you looked at but didn’t purchase.
Overall: 52% cool; Millennials: 60% cool
When you check out, your print or email receipt includes product recommendations selected just for you.
Overall: 50% cool; Millennials: 59% cool
This stuff is ‘Cool’:
Your location in the store triggers personalized product information, relevant content, recommendations and discounts to pop up on your mobile device as you walk the aisles.
Overall: 40% cool; Millennials: 49% cool
Digital screens in each dressing room show products that complement the item that you are trying on.
Overall: 41% cool; Millennials: 49% cool
A salesperson makes more helpful suggestions because they can see what you’ve previously browsed and bought on their site and in the store.
Overall: 32% cool; Millennials: 45% cool
This stuff is totally creepy (aka give it 6 months):
Facial recognition technology identifies you as a high value shopper and relays this information to a salesperson.
Overall: 67% creepy; Millennials: 71% creepy
A salesperson greets you by name on the store floor because your mobile phone or app signals your presence:
Overall: 64% creepy; Millennials: 64% creepy
Want to read more? Keep reading here.
The survey of 1,018 US consumers was conducted by RichRelevance in May 2016.
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.