How to Use eCommerce Guided Selling to Improve Shopping Experiences

Imagine you're searching for a new pair of headphones.

You click on a website and suddenly, you're met with a virtual assistant asking you about your preferred features — noise cancellation, over-ear, wireless — and your budget.

Based on your responses, the virtual assistant curates a list of headphones that match your criteria. 

You quickly find the perfect pair, add it to your cart, and check out.

This is not a distant high-tech dream, but a common reality called eCommerce guided selling.

This strategy not only streamlines a company’s salesOps but also significantly enhances customer satisfaction by delivering a personalized and seamless shopping journey

In this article, let's delve deeper into eCommerce-guided selling, understand its benefits, and how to implement it effectively.

Understanding eCommerce guided selling

Ecommerce guided selling is a digital marketing strategy that aims to mimic the personalized attention and advice provided by a store assistant in a physical retail store but in the online space. 

For instance, when a customer is shopping for a computer online, guided selling might involve a chatbot or a questionnaire asking about the customer's specific needs — such as their preferred operating system, the primary use of the computer (gaming, work, general browsing), their budget, and so on. 

Based on these responses, the system would suggest the most suitable options for that customer.

The process of eCommerce-guided selling can be broadly divided into six steps:

  1. Understanding their preferences and buying behaviour to create a personalized shopping experience that aligns with the customer's requirements.
  2. Detailed product cataloguing based on various attributes that are important to your audience.
  3. Recommend, reinforce, and reassure — recommendations are made based on customer preferences. These recommendations are reinforced by providing detailed product information and are reassured by social proof, such as customer reviews and ratings.
  4. Integrate guided selling tools like chatbots and quizzes to help customers narrow their options and select the best product for their needs.
  5. Seamless checkout process to encourage purchase completion and minimize the chances of an abandoned cart.
  6. Pre and post-sale customer support enhances overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Benefits of guided selling in eCommerce

In the e-commerce landscape, businesses often grapple with challenges such as high cart abandonment rates, decision fatigue among customers due to a vast array of options, low conversion rates, lack of meaningful customer engagement, and high return rates owing to customer dissatisfaction.

These challenges can lead to decreased sales, reduced customer retention, and negatively impacted the brand's reputation. However, integrating guided selling into your e-commerce strategy can help overcome these obstacles and provide the following benefits:

  1. Provides Personalized Support: Guided selling answers customers’ questions and suggests products tailored to their needs. This personalized approach can lead to increased customer satisfaction, decreased cart abandonment, and ultimately, higher conversion rates.
  2. Promotes Value-Based Selling: By helping customers understand the features and benefits of a product or service that align with their needs, businesses can promote the inherent value of their offerings, encouraging customers to make purchases based on value rather than price.
  3. Reduces Complexity: Guided selling can help alleviate decision fatigue and make the shopping experience more enjoyable by guiding customers toward products that suit their needs and preferences.
  4. Saves Time and Effort: Tools such as chatbots, quizzes, and product selectors can quickly provide customers with relevant product recommendations, eliminating the need for customers to sift through numerous product listings. Concurrently, this allows sales teams to focus their efforts on other important tasks such as addressing complex customer inquiries.
  5. Decreases Return Rates: When customers understand what they are purchasing and how it aligns with their needs, they are less likely to be dissatisfied and return the product.

7 Tips to implement guided selling in your eCommerce store

1. Ensure a user-friendly design

A user-friendly design provides the foundation for customers to move seamlessly through the buying process, from discovery to checkout. If your site is complicated or challenging to navigate, customers may leave before they have the chance to experience guided selling.

To achieve a user-friendly design you can:

  • Use clear and simple navigation by using relevant labels for your menu items, and organize products in a way that makes sense to your customers.
  • Optimize page load times as slow-loading pages can lead to increased bounce-off and cart abandonment rates. 
  • Reduce the number of steps in the checkout process to help your customers complete their purchases faster. You can also offer guest checkout options.

2. Incorporate chatbots and virtual assistants

Chatbots and virtual assistants are AI-powered tools that simulate human conversation and assist customers in various tasks such as product discovery, problem-solving, or completing purchases. 

H&M’s virtual shopping assistant | source

They are crucial in implementing guided selling in your ecommerce store as they provide instant, personalized customer service, and can guide users through the buying process in real-time, replicating the assistance provided by a salesperson in a physical store.

Incorporating chatbots and virtual assistants can:

  • Provide 24/7 customer service as chatbots are available round the clock, providing support to customers across different time zones and even on holidays.
  • Personalize the shopping experience by remembering customer preferences, and making personalized product suggestions based on previous interactions.
  • Decrease cart abandonment by reminding customers of items left in their cart, guiding them through the checkout process, and more.

3. Provide product recommendations

Product recommendations in ecommerce are suggestions given to shoppers based on their browsing history, purchase history, or other demographic data. These can enhance the guided selling process, making the shopping experience more personalized and time-efficient for consumers.

When providing product recommendations, consider the following steps:

  • Collect customer data with the help of ecommerce analytics tools related to behaviour, preferences, and past purchases. 
  • Promote related or complementary products (cross-selling) or more premium items (upselling). This not only improves the shopping experience but also increases your store's average order value.

Upselling and cross-selling | source

  • Provide context-appropriate recommendations. For example, if they are browsing winter clothing, suggest similar winter items or accessories that pair well with the items they are viewing.

4. Gamify the checkout process

Turning the checkout process into an engaging, game-like experience can help improve the shopping journey and potentially increase conversion rates. Consider these unique ways to gamify your checkout process:

  • Reveal gradual discounts or exclusive offers as customers add items to their cart or move through the checkout process. This element of surprise and achievement can motivate buyers to complete their purchase.
  • Implement milestones and achievements in the shopping journey. For instance, a first-time buyer achieves 'Rookie' status and gets a badge, while a repeat customer may level up to 'Expert Shopper,' which comes with its perks (such as discounts, etc.).
  • Embed quick, fun quizzes or surveys at the end of checkout to provide customers with an engaging diversion. These can be related to product preferences or shopping habits and could potentially offer insights for your marketing strategies.
  • Offer small challenges like 'Complete checkout in under 2 minutes to get an extra discount.' Such challenges can add excitement and make customers more invested in the process.

5. Share educational content

Educational content provides your customers with valuable information that helps them understand your products, their benefits, and how to use them effectively. Sharing educational content not only positions your brand as an expert in the field but also aids guided selling by making customers well-informed and confident about their purchase decisions.

To leverage educational content in your guided selling strategy you can invest in:

  • Product guides and tutorials that explain your products' features and usage.
  • A comprehensive FAQ section or knowledge base where customers can find answers to their common queries. Ensure this information is easily accessible from product pages to aid in the buying process.
  • Live webinars or product demos where customers can get a real-time understanding of the product, ask questions, and interact with your team. This not only educates customers but also builds trust and engagement.
  • Blogs and articles on your website that discuss trends, product comparisons, tips, tricks, etc., to subtly guide your customers toward making a purchase without overt sales language.

6. Showcase customer reviews

Capitalizing on customer reviews is an often-overlooked yet powerful means of engaging in guided selling. It allows potential buyers to draw from the experiences of previous customers, easing their decision-making process and reinforcing their trust in your store and products.

Here are some practical actions to leverage customer reviews in your guided selling process:

  • Leverage user-generated content (UGC) to provide a realistic depiction of the product in action, offering a convincing argument to potential buyers.
  • Use reviews to learn about aspects of your products that customers appreciate the most, and highlight these aspects in your product descriptions. This can help guide potential buyers towards the most suitable products.
  • Enable filters in your review section to help customers navigate to the most relevant reviews. Filters could include ratings, purchase verification, or aspects like size and colour for specific products.

7. Compare product features

Offering a product feature comparison is a strategic move in guided selling, assisting customers in their buying decisions by providing a clear, side-by-side comparison of different products' attributes. This is especially beneficial for customers who are undecided or confused about which product will best meet their needs.

Product comparison table on Amazon | source

Consider the following steps to effectively implement product feature comparison:

  • Create simple, clean tables that compare features of similar products or different versions of the same product. Ensure that these tables are easy to read and understand.
  • Implement interactive comparison tools that allow customers to select products and compare their features dynamically.
  • Develop guided questionnaires that assist customers in identifying their needs. The responses can then be used to generate personalized product comparisons.

It's crucial to remember that your business is unique, and therefore the implementation of guided selling through the above tips should be tailored to your ecommerce store’s needs. 

Assess your business objectives, audience preferences, and product range to determine the most effective combination of these strategies. Experiment, analyze results, and make adjustments accordingly to continually enhance your customers' shopping experience.

Wrapping up

The incorporation of guided selling strategies can significantly enhance the ecommerce shopping experience for your customers, ultimately boosting your sales and customer satisfaction. The concept revolves around personalizing the shopping experience, providing value, and easing the decision-making process for your customers.

Ensuring a user-friendly design that simplifies navigation, incorporating chatbots and virtual assistants for real-time guidance, providing personalized product recommendations, gamifying the checkout process, sharing educational content to build trust, showcasing genuine customer reviews, and enabling feature comparison empowers customers to make informed decisions that align with their specific needs.

Remember, no two businesses are identical. It's important to tailor these strategies based on the uniqueness of your eCommerce store and continually experiment and adjust your strategy based on customer feedback and performance metrics.

About the Author -

Hazel Raoult is a freelance tech writer and works with PRmention. She has over six years of experience writing about eCommerce, technology, entrepreneurship, and SaaS. Hazel loves to split her time between writing, editing and hanging out with her family.