Ada Okoli
Ada Okoli 21 June 2018

Overwhelmed online shoppers crave advice and recommendations from brands, says report

Two-thirds of consumers expect online retailers and brands to provide objective expert advice and product recommendations, as they become increasingly overwhelmed by the vast amount of choice they encounter during internet shopping sessions.

According to a new report, more than half (53%) of online shoppers ranked honest and personal advice among the top two most important services they want from retailers and brands when shopping. Around a quarter (22%) said they wanted the online platforms of brands and retailers to offer proactive product recommendations to make choosing easier.

A growing number of customers feel that the proliferation of brands and products available at the tap of a smartphone or click of a mouse makes it difficult to arrive at confident purchase decisions, trapping them in choice overload and decision paralysis.

Humanizing Digital 2020, a consumer report compiled by Digital Advice technology provider SMARTASSISTANT, revealed that 42% of customers had abandoned online shopping transactions because they felt there was too much choice.

More than half (54%) stopped purchasing from a particular website because it was too difficult to find the right product, and the majority of respondents (71%) had switched to a competitor to make the purchase they wanted because the company had made the transaction easier.

“While it’s true to say the presence of the internet has made shopping a lot more convenient, the huge amount of choice that it offers consumers - in terms of brands, retailers, and their products - can make finding the right item a daunting prospect,” said SMARTASSISTANT founder and president Markus Linder.

“People crave decision support from companies that they trust. Any brand or retailer that is serious about growing their online business needs to understand customers’ predicament in terms of choice overload - and address it quickly.”

Static tools, such as product filters and FAQs (frequently asked questions), offered by many online stores are becoming less fit for purpose. The report discovered that modern consumers prefer more flexible, human-like solutions. When survey participants were asked which support method was the most helpful when they were shopping online, intelligent digital sales assistants were ranked first, followed by live chat and in-store support.

By contrast, product filters were ranked fifth most helpful, while FAQs were last in ninth. In fact, two-thirds (64%) of consumers think digital sales assistants offer a better customer experience than product filters, with a quarter (25%) claiming them to be much better.

How well brands and retailers offer decision support is having a strong impact on customer loyalty, which will only become more pronounced in the future. The level of customer service motivates 65% of consumers to be loyal, followed by website/mobile experience (46%) and product expertise (45%).

Around a third (30%) of shoppers said this loyalty was underpinned by the company’s ability to provide advice and recommendations.

It presents a great opportunity for innovative, forward-thinking businesses. While competitors focus on pushing products, these businesses are investing in intelligent guidance. When others emphasize diminishing differentiators like price, they offer personal assistance on digital channels to drive long-term business growth.

The true customer-centric brands are laser-focused on creating ‘Human Digital’ experiences.

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