How Guided Selling Tools Take the In-Store Experience Online

Guided selling tools are the future of high-performance digital sales – where innovation meets assistance.

Daryll Williams | Mar 28, 2024
How Guided Selling Tools Take the In-Store Experience Online

Guided selling tools are the future of high-performance digital sales – where innovation meets assistance.


Let’s indulge in some hypothesizing for a moment; retail as we know it will soon be a thing of the past. In fact, customers may forego the in-store experience altogether.

The economy is struggling, and shoppers and brands alike are feeling the impact. This is leading to purchase habits completely changing and retailers having to face new challenges in balancing their purpose against the reality of price. The differentiator has now become the experience.


The digital transformation of future sales


The way people, places, and situations connect is going to have a big impact on revenue generation over the next few years. As a business owner, that realization could spark concern. But customers are building a preference for the online shopping groove because it offers the luxury of flexibility, time, and choice.

This shift can make it tricky to pin down where your audience fits – whether they're into the traditional in-person vibe or all about the virtual one.

If you want to safeguard your sales, adopting a principled position on future sales is the way to go. Any compelling shopping experience worth its salt will demand a killer online advice mechanism (that marries the best of your offline offering).

Rapid advancements in technology are necessitating companies to craft fresh strategies to retain their bases while simultaneously attracting new demographics. And of all the diverse strategies available today, Guided Selling tools stand apart as the most compelling of them all.


What are Guided Selling tools?

Guided selling tools are a type of eCommerce software that leverages sales expertise to help customers navigate the purchasing process and assist them in making more informed decisions. It provides personalized recommendations based on the shoppers’ needs and preferences, answers questions, and offers advice to help them choose the right product.

For example, have you ever felt like you're drowning in options while shopping for a technically complex product online? Despite that aforementioned “luxury of choice”, the sheer number of considerations and compatibility factors can make the experience downright daunting for most of us.

In-store sales assistants have been around since the dawn of retail to help guide customers through aisles, recommending products as they go. But that intimate level of guidance struggles to be naturally replicated online.

Imagine if your customers could enjoy the same level of standardized assistance online as they do in-store. Enter Guided Selling. In a world where time is of the essence, and convenience is the name of the game, Guided Selling tools aren’t merely a strategy-boosting trend – they’re the difference between a good online experience and a great one.


Why do you need Guided Selling tools?




Guided selling is a multi-disciplinary strategy that analyzes current sales, historical numbers, and zero and first-party customer data. It’s particularly effective for complex or high-value products where customers may require more support.

Need more? Here’s the breakdown of why you need these tools in your tech stack:


1. Interactive product discovery and exploration


The greatest advantage of Guided Selling tools is their ability to facilitate interactive product discovery and exploration. Through interactive Product Finders, for example, customers can engage in a guided journey to discover products that best suit their needs. 

This approach not only makes the process more enjoyable and engaging but also empowers customers to have confidence in their purchases by providing them with relevant information every step of the way.


2. Seamless integration across channels

Another value-add of Guided Selling is its ability to integrate across various digital channels seamlessly. 

This approach ensures a consistent and cohesive shopping experience regardless of the device or platform used by the customer. Whether browsing on a desktop computer or smartphone, customers can access the tools to receive assistance wherever they are in their shopping journey.


3. Data-driven insights for continuous improvement

Guided Selling provides valuable data-driven insights for businesses. By analyzing interactions, preferences, and behaviors, retailers can gain valuable insights into their target audience and market trends. 

This data-driven approach enables you to optimize customer engagement initiatives for maximum impact.


Investing in digital storefronts: The UX factor

The Customer Experience is growing stale as webshops increasingly fall into the trap of templated and predictable designs.

Digital storefronts are at risk of becoming uninspiring shop windows, lacking distinctiveness beyond their branding. There’s also a heightened appetite among audiences for frictionlessness and greater personalization.

But when it comes to finding the perfect product, a desire for easier, faster product discovery is not always met: According to Gartner research, nearly half of customers (47%) desire tools and services that save them the mental hassle of researching and picking items, and over a third of shoppers (34%) would much rather spend money to save time while shopping.


How in-store guidance is replicated with Guided Selling tools


1. Exploration phase: Taking in the sights and sounds

Example: Imagine stepping into a vibrant store, surrounded by rows of products and bustling activity. As you wander through different sections, you enter the exploration phase, soaking in the sights and forming your initial impressions. 

This phase is all about that initial self-guided journey, where you're on a mission to see what catches your eye and piques your interest.

Goal: Your goal during this phase is simple: to explore the store's offerings and form your first impressions. It's like being on a treasure hunt, seeking potential finds that align with your needs and preferences.


2. Guidance phase: Personalized assistance every step of the way

Example: Now, picture a friendly store assistant approaching you, ready to lend a helping hand. They engage in conversation, asking about your wants, needs, and goals. 

Armed with this information, they expertly guide you through the store, pointing out products that are most relevant to you. This personalized assistance ensures that you find exactly what you're looking for, making your shopping experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Goal: In the guidance phase, it’s all about providing you with personalized advice and guidance based on your individual needs. It's like having a companion on hand, helping you navigate the aisles and make informed decisions.


3. Add-on phase: Discovering hidden gems

Example: As the shop assistant guides you to the right products. Complementary or similar products are located conveniently next to them. These help you complete your set, or offer great alternatives to the original suggestions. 

These add-on suggestions are like discovering hidden gems you didn't even know you needed. They enhance your shopping experience, offering valuable extras that elevate your purchase and leave you feeling satisfied.

Goal: During the add-on phase, the goal is to encourage exploration and selection of additional items that complement the main purchase. It's about enhancing the overall shopping experience and ensuring that customers leave feeling fulfilled and delighted with their choices.

Equipped with the information that’s been provided so far, do you see how the physical store can be replaced with a webshop, the in-store assistant can be swopped out with a guided selling tool, and how the in-store experience manages to be replicated online as a result?


Types of Guided Selling tools you can implement

Merchants have access to a wide array of tools to create highly effective guided journeys that boost the likelihood of closing the digital sale – for instance:

  • Interest/need quizzes that help gather preference data for more in-depth personalization
  • Product guides that promote bespoke curated bundles e.g. occasion, season, mood
  • Segmented content that speaks to a particular audience for enhanced relevance
  • Simplified navigation that highlights core categories or site areas for streamlined browsing
  • Category header recommendations that showcase product breadth and direct attention

The more robust options, however, enhance Product Discovery by connecting your products to your customers’ needs, speaking in a language they understand:


1. Product Finders




Product Finders are one way to match customers to the right products for them and educate users, all while learning about what drives their behavior.

Today’s most successful eCommerce players leverage this personalization tool to promote customer engagement. In particular, Product Finders work exceptionally well with complex or technical assortments.

According to a recent survey, 59% of online shoppers claim that personalized interactions play a key role in their decision to purchase.

We've built Product Finder tools for industries across product categories. How do we do it? It's simple: Build with technology, optimize with psychology, and keep testing to ensure the right path is tailored for each user.


2. Product recommendations




Due to their track record for improving conversion rates and sales, product recommendations are one of the more popular parts of a Guided Selling experience. And they can be very lucrative: Almost 60% of businesses see an increase in retention and conversions thanks to recommendation strategies.

Offering recommendations can also improve the average order value (AOV) of what’s in a person’s shopping cart. If a retailer can use cross-sells, for instance, to generate customer interest and ship a bunch of items instead of just one, their profit margins improve.

Regardless of the motivation to use this, eCommerce sites that deploy recommendation tech can drive sales by suggesting:

  • Additional items that other shoppers have bought with the item the customer is looking at
  • Items that align with the user’s search query content
  • Relevant products that “go with” an item they’ve put in their cart

3. Product comparisons




Product comparisons work by directly measuring two or more similar products, often of the same type or in the same category.

They include the major product features so potential customers know what they’ll get before buying a new product. Many also include similar items to specific products or types of products, offering even more usability.

By informing decision-making and highlighting differences between your products, you can save customers time and effort by streamlining the product research process and increasing conversions.


4. Product badges




Product badges are an essential tool in any eCommerce strategy toolbox. You can use product badging to make more sales from existing customers and tap into powerful psychological triggers such as scarcity, social proof, and urgency to boost sales.

By promoting product benefits based on customer goals, you can leverage badging to capture your shoppers’ attention and drive click-through rates by making the right product stand out.


5. Product notifications




Product notifications are pop-ups or embedded messages that leverage lengthier copy to drive purchase behavior. These messages are curated to be highly persuasive or informative and appeal to the information-driven stage of the buyer’s journey.

When customers are browsing for a product, they are at the stage where their decision-making mind could use a little extra convincing.

These eCommerce product notifications

  • Make certain products more appealing to shoppers who are influenced by behavioral nudges
  • Highlight certain products and draw attention to others without being intrusive
  • Drive click-behavior by showing deals, offers, or encouraging sign-ups


The best Guided Selling examples


It’s clear Guided Selling tools run the gamut in terms of impact. Here are some of the finest examples we’ve discussed above:


1. Koffievoordeel’s Product Finder



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Koffievoordeel leverages a Coffee Finder to help users find their perfect coffee match quickly and easily.

Buying the right coffee can be difficult! If you’re passionate enough, the diversity in options can be debilitating. By focusing on the factors that drive purchase behavior most, Koffievoordeel can provide a Guided Selling experience that percolates with perfection, brewing up a customized coffee journey for every customer!


2. Ikea’s Product Recommendation 




IKEA stands out with how they recommend products on collection pages. Visualizing how products fit into a home setting is key to sealing the deal. That's why it's so impressive that instead of just showing a list of products, customers also get access to themed recommendations showcasing top products in real-life scenarios. These images are interactive too, allowing users to click straight through to the product page.

Once on the product pages, customers are greeted with a variety of recommendations, like frequently bought-together items, related products, and complementary pieces.


3. Keurig’s Product Comparison




Keurig’s coffee maker product pages include a product comparison chart. No guesswork is required.

Typically, comparison tools of this nature require shoppers to select the items they want to see side-by-side, usually by checking boxes. But a better option could be to eliminate that extra step and offer pre-populated comparison charts based on the most popular products or expert recommendations.

Keurig auto-populates a three-product comparison chart on each page of its coffee makers. Shoppers can select other brewers to compare using simple pull-down menus.


4. Foot Locker’s Product Badges



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Products that are new in supply sell well thanks to the trendiness factor. Athleisure brand Foot Locker, for instance, invests a lot in showing off new products by relying on product badges.

Badges also helps businesses showcase what products are “Best Seller”, “Top Rated” or “Customers’ Choice”, and make it easier for customers to make buying decisions.


5. Ray-Ban’s Product Notifications



Mega brand Ray-Ban makes push notification campaigns look easy. This is an easy tactic to tackle high cart abandonment. The headline is immediately interesting and the notification message is also perfect. Nicely done, Ray-Ban!


The impact on business operations


  • Efficiency and scalability made simple: Say goodbye to complex coding and custom solutions. Proper Guided Selling tech can boost operational efficiency and scalability effortlessly. By automating processes, you'll see a reduction in manual workload, optimize resource utilization, and streamline operations for maximum productivity.
  • Understanding customers like never before: Break down the barriers between your products and your customers. By simplifying communication and data collection, you can translate complex product features into customer-friendly language. Plus, by gathering zero-party data, you'll gain deep insights into your customers' preferences. This leads to increased confidence in your brand, fewer returns, and higher satisfaction levels.
  • Tailored recommendations for skyrocketing conversions: Ready to turn browsers into buyers? By investing in a personalized shopping experience like no other, you get to present a carefully curated selection of products tailored to each customer's preferences. It's a win-win for both you and your customers, resulting in increased sales and heightened satisfaction.
  • Smooth sailing with optimized navigation: Optimizing website navigation is crucial for a seamless user experience. By simplifying pathways and improving usability, you'll keep customers engaged and on your site longer. This translates to increased time spent browsing, greater engagement, and higher conversion rates!
  • Saying goodbye to friction: Nothing kills a sale faster than a clunky checkout process. Guided selling tools help minimize friction points in the online shopping journey, creating a smoother experience for your users. 


The importance of Guided Selling in eCommerce


To address customers’ desire for unique discovery experiences and on-demand convenience, retailers must be positioned to deliver new forms of value. That requires new ways of thinking about how the store is designed to connect with its base. And without a proper personalization partner, brands can misplace the power of proactive assistance.

Learn more about the Guided Selling experiences we offer or book a demo with us today.


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