In our last article, we discussed some of the most effective ways to use technology to streamline eCommerce operations for your digital storefront. While automating business processes using the right tools helps a brand operate more efficiently, offering an immersive customer experience makes sure that you retain customers, drive loyalty, and increase visiting frequency.
When we talk about eCommerce technology, we can’t hold the conversation without mentioning Artificial intelligence or Augmented reality. Technology in eCommerce is heavily driven by AI, ML and AI-enabled tools and the applications are numerous.
Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality in eCommerce
eCommerce is a trillion-dollar market already and the numbers are continuing to go up. The introduction of Machine Learning and AI has been proving a boon to the industry and we can expect these numbers to go higher in the coming years, attributing to the technology we have today.
In addition to streamlining the operations for businesses, AI and ML are helping brands offer a unique and immersive experience to the customers.
From predicting shopping patterns to engaging AI-enabled assistants, the applications are endless. Machine Learning in eCommerce has enormous use cases and when it comes to customer support recommendation engines, personalization of the content, improving quality of search engine, dynamic pricing are leading how we look at user experience. The application of Machine learning, which we call AI, has a major impact in the eCommerce industry and ensures that the customers enjoy a faster, easier, seamless, and more personalized shopping experience than ever before. Smart customer support helps in lead nurturing and virtual assistants enhance convenience.
In a nutshell, here’s what ML and AI can do when it comes to customer experience on your eCommerce store:
- Enable Smart searches
- 24/7 support so you don’t miss out on sales
- Hyper-personalization with product recommendations
- Better Customer Understanding to strengthen your relationships and drive loyalty.
Augmented reality (AR) is a comparatively new subject in eCommerce. Its use cases have not been explored as much but we are already seeing a lot of brands adapting this technology for a greater eCommerce customer experience. AR in eCommerce gained popularity after IKEA started using it to test products in real-time. We will discuss this in detail later in the article.
For now, here are top 5 ways you can make use of technology to improve eCommerce customer experience for your digital storefront.
You can classify online shoppers into 3 broad categories. These are:
- Shoppers that know exactly what they want to purchase
- Shoppers that want to browse the website
- Shoppers that require help in filtering products
To help your shoppers easily navigate through the website you should:
- Place product search bar at the top to help the first category of shoppers easily locate the product and finish transaction. You can also include autocomplete search feature to help your buyers easily look for a product.
- You need to personalize the search experience for shoppers who are browsing your website to improve product visibility and sales.
- To help shoppers easily find a specific product type include product features lke size, colors, etc in filters.
Smart Product Recommendations
The best use of technology for enhancing customer engagement and experience is the introduction of smart product recommendations. Guessing what people might like and are inclined to buy isn’t something new but today we have the technology to make this calculative and dynamic. A smart recommendation system helps you keep up with the fluctuating buyer needs and other market trends. A smart product recommendations comes from a plethora of data that includes:
- search queries
- viewing history
- past purchases
- dwell time
- items in the shopping cart
- products recommended on social media
- customer segments
- buyer personas
One other use case of smart recommendation is suggesting related products which can help in cross-selling, upselling, and boost overall sales.
For instance, Forever 21 lets you shop for an entire outfit in one go, with suggestions for the related items or accessories that will go with it to complete an outfit.
Customers are more likely to purchase from your store if they have an easy access to connect with you. There are a lot of options you can choose to deploy to your eCommerce store when it comes to connecting instantly with your customers. One of the most preferred methods is the use of chatbots that can be regular or AI-enabled.
Customers expect to retrieve the information they are looking for quickly and at the click of a button. And, chatbots are just the tools for that. There are numerous tools that are readily available with little to no development costs that integrate chatbots into your digital storefront websites and social media handles.
In absence of chatbots, you can use any messaging platform like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, etc to offer fast and convenient customer support. These messaging platforms are easy, convenient and most importantly saves time for both the brand and the customer.
Messengers are great for instant customer support and queries, however, using a chatbot allows you to offer an experience far greater than that. Here’s how:
Brands like Aerie are using a Kik messenger chatbot to appeal to Gen Z and Millenials for boosting their eCommerce business. The eCommerce chatbot lets the users browse the products based on personal preferences. One of the most popular features of their chatbot is the “This and That” option that allows the user to pick from two different styles of clothing and then uses this data to tailor the items based on user preferences. The company CTO has gone on record to confirm that they have acquired more than double users that come monthly within a matter of weeks, thanks to their chatbots.
One other impressive example of leveraging the powers of a chatbot is eBay’s ShopBot that turned out to be a great auction tool for the brand.
ShopBot helps customers easily find the products they are looking for at their desired price.
For instance,you can tell the ShopBot that you want women’s tennis shoes under $150 and it will ask you questions regarding the color and the brand until it finds a product that fits those exact requirements.
By using a chatbot that customizes recommendations to this extent, Ebay’s auction platform has become more efficient, popular, and user-friendly.
Uncomplicated online transactions are appreciated by both sellers and buyers alike. eCommerce businesses, in particular, should take note of keeping the check out process simple. And, it does not require a high-tech solution to do so.
Your eCommerce store should have these two features to enhance customer experience:
Option to easily add products in cart and view cart details on every webpage of your store.
Moreover, always offer a variety of payment options on your digital store. This helps customers make a purchase transaction using their preferred payment method.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is one of the most appealing technologies used by online brands that make up for a perfectly immersive shopping experience. The popularity of AR technology in eCommerce has significantly increased ever since visiting the physical stores came to a halt amid the wide-spread pandemic. AR is high on the list of a lot of product-driven brands. This technology allows eCommerce customers to preview products or experience services at the comfort of their homes and on their own time.
Some of the major AR use cases in eCommerce include:
- Preview Placements
- Virtual try-on services
- Interactive User manuals
IKEA has been using AR long before the pandemic to power furniture shopping at home. The app scans the room for dimensions and shows how the furniture would fit so the customers could get a look and feel of it in their homes.
Wannaby rolled out an app called Wanna Kicks that lets shoppers try on sneakers virtually from their homes. All they need to do is download the app, hold out their feet, and pick a sneaker style from the available options to see how the shoes will look like on their feet.
An app from Warby Parker provides similar functionality for the brand’s glass frames.
Offering an easy if not immersive customer experience is as important as streamlining your business operations for generating constant sales and strengthening customer brand relationships. With the technology resources available at your disposal, you can optimize your digital store working, support customers efficiently, and stand out from the crowd competition to excel in the market. There are a lot of ways to improve eCommerce customer experience using technology that we have today but it’s important that you start with the ones that are crucial for customer success. You can always invest in technology that allows you to offer something unique to your visitors.
Check out how you can use automation in eCommerce and streamline your business operations.
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