Is the business a competitive field

Product advice is becoming a strategic competitive field for mailers

An international survey by the renowned Vienna University of Economics showed that more than half of consumers are overwhelmed, especially when it comes to choosing technical products in online shops. This is especially true for less technically experienced users. In the Web 2.0 age, according to the study, 70% of online shoppers now also want product advice directly in the online shop.

Products that require intensive advice, such as those from the consumer electronics segment, are now predominantly only ordered online by technically savvy users. Many consumers, however, are not familiar with terms such as megapixels, digital zoom and S-video output. Consumers in online shops today are confronted with a very large number of products that are often described using complex technical properties. As a result, numerous online shoppers break off the buying process in uncertainty.

While almost all functions of the stationary trade are now also covered by the leading mail order companies in the web shop, needs-oriented product advice on the Internet is increasingly developing into a strategic competitive field. More and more online mail order companies are recognizing the growth potential that lies in the target group that only makes a purchase decision on the basis of well-founded individual advice.

For example, the mail order company BAUR (member of the Otto Group) has recognized the strategic importance of product advice in the online shop and relies on the “Smart Assistant ASP (Application Service Provider) solution ".

The “Smart Assistant” turns out to be a successful answer to one of the biggest problems of online sales: the fear of many consumers of making their purchase decision without the usual individual advice in the store. When it comes to buying a digital camera, this advisory assistant asks, for example, whether the buyer would like a small or light camera with a large display or up to what size a photo should be printed out to be taken with the desired camera. In accordance with the respective requirements and price expectations, those products from the entire range of BAUR.de that best meet the consumer's personal wishes are then recommended as part of an online consultation. The Smart Assistant speaks the language of the consumer and interacts with customer requests (see http://www.baur.de/produktberater/).

Conversion rate of over 10%

Dirk Lauber, Head of E-Commerce at BAUR-Versand: “It is very important to us to give consumers the best possible online advice so that even less technically savvy people can buy technical products online. The success proves us right: Thousands of consumers took advantage of the online advice within a very short time and over 10% of users immediately ordered one of the products recommended in the course of the advice. This corresponds to a multiplication in comparison to those consumers who do not take advantage of online advice. Now that the solution has been so well received, we will continue to expand our online consulting offer in order to be able to optimally advise customers in as many product areas as possible. "

However, online advice solutions are not only useful in classic product areas such as white or brown goods, but will also increasingly be used in areas such as clothing or shoes in the future. Because here, too, it is of great importance to offer the consumer the security of being able to find the multitude of products that best meet their own needs.

The do's and don'ts of online advice

What should be considered in online advice:

1. Avoidance of empty results: If none of the offers from the shop meet the needs of the consumer 100%, those products should always be recommended that come closest to the wishes, with a note indicating which needs cannot be met.

2. Ongoing generation of interim results: If users are continuously shown interim results in the consultation process, trade-off decisions can be made explicitly by the user.

3. Consulting from a single source: Professional consulting as a strategic function in the online shop should be offered in a uniform form for all product and service areas in which online consulting is appropriate.

4. Dynamic product packaging: A good product advice solution also enables advice on a bundle of matching products from the online range and not just within individual product categories in the range. In particular, this also offers potential for cross-selling and up-selling.

5. Don't just filter, but recommend: While simple filter functions often confront the user with a restricted but still unmanageable number of products or with empty result pages, a professional online consulting solution always presented a list of those products that best meet individual needs.

6. Readiness for semantic web-based e-commerce: In the future, manufacturers will increasingly make their product descriptions available to retailers in a structured form based on open standards. Next-generation consulting solutions are able to automatically adopt these product descriptions and provide advice on the basis of this data.
About Smart Information Systems GmbH

Smart Information Systems develops SMARTASSISTANT, the leading digital advice / guided selling technology for interactive purchase advice solutions.

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