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Digital Sales Assistants: Recreating Human-to-Human Sales Interactions Online

Every one of us has visited a physical retail storefront knowing what we wanted a product to do for us. Yet, we may not have been sure which product we actually wanted.

A sales assistant then came along and completely engaged with you. They listened to all of your preferences, interpreted your needs and, from an overwhelming plethora of options, directed you to the ideal product which fit perfectly into the picture you had described.

90% of customers are more likely to purchase when they are helped by a knowledgeable assistant.

Floor staff are one of the most valuable assets in physical retail stores. They are responsible for shaping the customer experience. They provide support to customers and can enhance the in-store shopping experience. By doing so, they are in a position to create repeat customers and generate income for the business.

The question then becomes how you can replicate this successful model in the online world.

How Are You Assisting Your Online Shoppers?

If you compare the more physical shop experience with the standard ecommerce experience, you’ll realise that the majority of online stores are simply not up to par. The human element and the customer’s needs and wants appear almost entirely ignored. As a result, opportunities to sell more effectively fall by the way.

If a customer needs some sort of personal assistance with their purchase, in most cases, there is absolutely no one there to deliver this support.

At one point in time, ecommerce was merely an avenue for consumers to make a purchase via the internet. These days, it’s purpose goes far beyond that. The online shopping experience has become an extension of your brand experience and a focal asset being that increasing numbers of shoppers are making online-only purchases.

Leaders in the online retail environment have mastered the art of infusing sales concepts, which work in a retail space, into the digital world. Customer wants and needs are monitored, as are pain points, and modern technology is used to seamlessly deliver human experiences to digital channels.

68% of shoppers rated honest and personal advice as the more important attributes they expected from their preferred brand or retailer.

44% wanted recommendations and tips.

51% state that better technical assistance would enhance the post-purchase experience.

Google’s Spin On The Role Of Assistive Experiences

Martijn Bertisen, Country Sales Director, Google UK, comments,

“The consumer has fundamentally changed. Their engagement with new technologies and digital services has driven their expectations up higher and higher. They’re now demanding useful, engaging, and assistive experiences from all the brands they interact with.”

He outlines how companies can design and use assisted experiences to stay ahead in the age of ecommerce.

Show Up: Capture demand and intent wherever possible through reach, discovery and inspiration across all devices and all channels.

Wise Up: Use machine learning as well as customer and business data to support better decisions across the value chain.

Speed Up: Make the shopping experience easy. Increase customer loyalty by providing fast and effortless purchases everywhere.

Digital sales assistants are pivotal in enabling conversational ecommerce and assistive experiences:

  • Provide 1-to-1 engagement with consumers in order to understand their unique needs in varying stages of the customer life cycle.
  • Make use of AI to cultivate meaningful conversations and link consumer expectations with highly relevant products, solutions or services.
  • Deliver the next best solution, content or product which matches their needs. This saves the customer’s time and effort otherwise used

As well as supporting more personalised digital interactions, digital sales assistants open the door to real opportunities that drive business success.

1. Enhance Customer Satisfaction & Engagement (+80%)

Digital sales assistants give the customer a sense of personal attention.
Rather than overwhelming a customer with endless choices and options, digital assistants guide the customer journey by opening up a conversation about their needs.

In a study conducted by McKinsey, data indicates that 70% of buying decisions are based on the way a customer feels they are being treated. Simply put, treat them well and they will be more inclined to make a purchase from you.

2. Improve Conversion & Sales Figures (+107%)

If a customer can’t decide, they won’t be able to buy.

Consumers can become paralysed when confronted with too many choices and it often results in decision fatigue.

There is a sort of pressure felt by a customer when they need to choose the right product from the many others before them. This is what causes a consumer to visit multiple stores, consider other features and prices until they lose focus, become frustrated and then relinquish the purchase altogether.

A digital sales assistant brings down a consumer’s research time, aids in the emotional validation of their purchase decision and guides them toward a product that fits their unique needs. Through its use, a customer is able to get exactly what they want without getting stuck in an ocean of choices.

Customers, then, feel empowered. They better understand the feature to benefit equation which makes them feel smarter. Data indicates that customer’s buying confidence is enhanced when digital sales assistants are used. So too, conversions and sales are boosted.

3. Reduces Rates of Return (-10%)

Returns are a major headache for the retail industry. Minimising doubts is the cure.

Digital sales assistants have the effect of minimising buyer remorse and returns are reduced as a result. If a customer can express their preferences and can observe them being recognised and addressed, it’s less likely that they will second guess their decision at a later stage.

Digital sales assistants explain how a product meets the customers’ unique needs so their belief in the purchase is endorsed.

4. Improve Cross Selling Opportunities (+9.7%)

If a customer feels heard and that their needs and concerns have been acknowledged they become more receptive to other things you say.

Shoppers that make use of a product finder questionnaire are more engaged, frequently stay longer on the site and are more likely to have trust in your recommendations. This opens up the opportunity for you to present other products that add value, or are complementary, to the purchase.

5. Gather Actionable Data & Insight

We are in the age of data. The information gathered through personalised shopping experiences is insightful and highly actionable.

The conversational approach of online sales assistants allows you to delve into customer insights with incredible detail. It allows marketing teams to create detailed customer profiles and further allows you to personalise marketing.

Digital shopping assistants are the link between today’s online shopping environment and the traditional human experiences that people are accustomed to receiving in-store.

They provide the ideal setting to engage in 1-to-1 dialogues with customers and allow a buyer to feel heard. Product recommendations then position you as an expert and cultivate trust. The result? Loyal customers and brand advocates.