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30-second summary:

  • Reopening of stores does not indicate a negative trend for e-commerce as online shopping is a consumer behavior that is here to stay
  • To achieve continued success, e-commerce businesses will need to address the digital experience gap, which is where product recommendations come in.
  • However, confusing product recommendations with a simple “connector” of similar products is a trap that many companies face today.
  • Blueshift Product Marketing Director Explains How Personalized Product Recommendations Will Be Key To Customer Engagement And Retention

The pandemic has accelerated digital trends across industries, from the way people do business and pay to online shopping. However, the shift to online shopping was a bit of a ‘forced trend’ as consumers at the height of the pandemic had little choice but to turn to e-commerce when physical stores were forced to. to close.

As the economy and stores reopen, it’s hard to say whether consumers will continue to use e-commerce on par with the return of more traditional options.

« Consumer preferences are constantly changing, I would say the only constant is change »

says Marina Ben-Zvi, Director of Product Marketing at Blueshift.

“A lot of these behaviors are likely to stick around because consumers want more convenience and choice. What remains unknown are the preferences of consumers that are permanent and those that were situational when the world reopened. « 

There are signs of pent-up demand, with consumers eager to use the savings accumulated over the past year. Much of the demand is directed towards high-contact services, such as hotels and leisure.

But as consumers turn to activities they couldn’t do last year, reopening isn’t necessarily negative for e-commerce. Companies that have taken the time to improve their customer experience will be in a strong position.

« Last year, the companies that really got ahead were the ones that were really nimble, attentive to their customers and responsive to their needs, »

said Ben-Zvi.

“It’s only a risk if they haven’t invested in delivering a good customer experience. Those [customers] who have seen the value of your service or business are more likely to stick with you.

Provide a digital customer experience

One of the ways that e-commerce can improve the experience of its customers is by recommending products, which in many ways mimics the role of an employee in a physical store.

« In an online environment, you don’t have the beautiful merchandising of a store or even the store associates to help you in the same personalized way. »

said Ben-Zvi.

“When done right, product recommendations are meant to show customers the products they really want and help them discover new products they didn’t know they needed. « 

Product recommendations, however, are not as straightforward as connecting similar products.

« If you show the same product recommendations to all of your customers, they’re not recommendations, it’s just marketing. »

One of the pitfalls of recommending a product is treating it as one size fits all. They need to be customer-specific and evolve over time, using search and browser history to change recommendations to deliver a better customer experience. Consumers are also sometimes skeptical of product recommendations, and Ben-Zvi says one way to add more credibility to product recommendations is to demonstrate why they receive certain recommendations.

“You received this product recommendation because you researched this product or pointed out that it is a bestseller. It really helps the recommendations to be more believable and desirable.

Companies also need to adapt the way they engage different types of customers, even if they buy the same product. One of those differentiators is whether a customer is new, returning, or expired, says Ben-Zvi. With new customers, it’s about “showcasing your strengths” and for those who come back, it’s about using the data you’ve collected to start “organizing” their shopping experience.

Ben-Zvi recommends paying more attention to expired customers, « this is one of the most critical points of the customer journey because it is so much easier and cheaper to retain customers than to acquire new ones. « .

She adds that it’s especially important to have an engagement strategy that incorporates product and content recommendations for products that are purchased infrequently.

“Here, it’s about getting them to think about your brand. How do you get to the top of the list? « 

“If it’s something that you only buy once a year, or even less frequently, then it’s about staying ahead by providing value, information or inspiration in a way. or another. « 

Data is essential

In order to get the right product recommendation to the right customers, the use of data is essential.

“The good news is that today we have both the sheer volume and variety of data, and the tools to really put your customers at the center of what marketing does,” says Ben-Zvi.

“But data can only be of value if you can actually put it to work right away. « 

New technologies will be a key tool in helping the marketing department use customer data to improve their shopping experience.

Ben-Zvi says that with the amount of data that can now be generated from customer interactions with a brand, it is becoming increasingly important that data is integrated into departments beyond marketing.

« The more marketing data and transactional data points can be integrated, the more seamless and consistent the customer experience will be and the happier your customers will be. »

To learn more about one-click product recommendations for omnichannel e-commerce here.

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