Do you run an e-commerce store? Are you troubled by a high bounce rate?
If you answered yes and yes, then you must have spent enough time wondering how to engage your customers better and longer. Your answer may lie in *drumroll* an AI-powered recommendation engine or a “Similar Items” widget or a “More Like This” widget. I won’t say it’s a panacea but surely using one helps reduce the pain. Just the way hearing the words “you’re not alone” does!
According to research, the average attention span dropped by 33% from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. We’re probably at the lowest ever attention span for online shoppers. As brand owners and marketers we thus have only a tiny window to capture the attention of our customers and give them value enough to stay within our universe. It’s always an uphill task when you have the next notification pop-up to worry about!
At the same time, shopper expectations are growing by the day. As the simplest example, when shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for they’ll simply switch out of an app or open a new tab, hit a quick search and end up purchasing with a competitor. With low switching costs for the customer and the intense competition in the D2C space, it’s all the more important to stay ahead of the curve in providing the best customer experience in today’s omnichannel retail world.
Let’s bring you up to speed on one of the simplest ways to increase customer engagement and reduce the bounce rate on your website (bonus info below if you’re using Shopify!). No prizes for guessing, we’re talking about enabling relevant suggestions in your online store. Just like a store associate engages customers in a brick-and-mortar store, these widgets engage customers in online store by showing visually similar items.
Be mindful that your home page is your first impression!
To begin let’s talk about the most visited page on your website. The home page. One of the major culprits for the high bounce rate. As a store owner you want to offer everything right upfront, putting out all the products you’ve got or you want to show the best you have got. let’s see how they look 👇🏻
In case you’re looking to improve your landing page, here’s a fantastic guide on landing page design by the folks at unbounce.
How do you get a customer to discover all your products if you don’t even show them what you got?! Focus on optimizing the navigation process instead of throwing out everything at once. This will lead to a smoother product discovery experience for your visitors.
You ask, then what is the best way to help the customer navigate to the product they want (and will buy)?
A search bar on top is not enough. Many times the shopper doesn’t know what exactly to search or the search algorithms are not robust enough to display relevant results.
I would suggest starting with proper categorization of all the products you have in your store and putting an optimized catalog at the homepage or as a highlighted tab on the menu bar. This may sound easy but most brands are doing it wrong. You need to understand the importance of adding the category as clothes or bottom-wear and then further narrowing it to tag a product as jeans, trousers or track-pants. Each option will change the navigation path for the customer.
Check out this image, how Taylor Stitch has put few images along with the category to increase the visual appeal and also help the customer navigate faster.
Or you can display your category wise collection on the homepage just like this website in the image
Well this is just the first step in the navigation path to the product your customer wants. Ideally the journey should look like this:
Homepage >> Main Category >> [desired product category] >> [visually similar product] >> [the product customer really wants]
You need to make sure this path is as smooth as can be. The transitions from one step to the next should be seamless, especially the last one. It is very crucial for the conversion and most business is lost during this transition.
This is exactly where Recommender systems come in. They help smoothen the process and clinch the sale for you. In a nutshell they are a gigantic deal for Internet service based companies. If you think it’s exaggeration check it yourself, Recommender Systems: A Game Changer for Internet Biggies. Recommendation systems can help in various transitions such as Best Sellers, New Arrival, Frequently Bought Together etc. In this article, we’re going to talk about the “Similar Items” Recommendations which help in the final and one of the most crucial steps of the process.
What is a “Similar Items” suggestor?
This recommendation system works just like that store associate in a retail store who knows exactly what item to show you next. You’d never go back if you didn’t find the things you like despite them being available at the store. And if the associate showed you relevant suggestions, you’d never leave empty handed.
How does such a Recommendation system work?
With the power of Artificial Intelligence. Here’s what happens. Once the shopper has reached the desired product category they will keep scrolling until they find their desired product or something similar to that. Now the journey from ‘something close to the product’ to the exactly desired product may become painfully long for the customer. They may leave a store after coming so close, believing that the store doesn’t have what they want. The day could have been saved if the store had a Similar Items suggestor to help the shopper find visually similar products and narrow down their search. Of course, this would only have a positive impact if the suggestions are absolutely relevant to the shopper.
Check out these two examples to understand how significant these relevant suggestions are:
In the first example, the suggestions are not even in the category of the spotlight product and are probably not relevant to your customer. This will lead to the customer bouncing away.
Now that the benefits are clear, how can you enable a Similar Products widget on your website?
It’s pretty straightforward if you’ve built your site on Shopify. Head over to the Shopify app store and search for “Similar Items”. Pick the one you like. You can also read my article on how to add a Similar Items widget to your online Shopify Store.
Pro tip: Try finding an app that specialises in your industry, especially if you’re selling fashion and lifestyle products
If you want a solution that is tested, works well and is free then go with the Similarity app on the Shopify app store.
Now that you’ve stayed till here, I’m sure you’re doing a fascinating job with your store. Make sure you also take complete advantage of the best Recommendation engines to deliver the best customer experience.
Would love to learn from your views and questions. Feel free to post in the comments section below.