The reality of retail is changing, as consumers continue to shop predominantly online. 2020 has been an unprecedented year for retailers. Many went through a tough time on survival mode, having to reinvent themselves and implement different strategies to reach consumers. Retailers that had previously prioritised the in-store shopping experience had to find new ways to offer a similar experience online.
However, with more and more consumers choosing to shop online, retailers that operate online experienced a significant growth in sales as they responded to the unprecedented demand. As Google predicts, "Retailers with a strong digital offering will gain additional sales in the next five years".
When it comes to online shopping, it can be difficult for retailers to know which approach is best for their business: offer product curation to customers or scale with an extensive list of options to choose from? With our experience, we’ve learned that retailers can find product feed optimisation helpful to bridge the gap between the two options and in this article, we’re going to look into how this can be achieved.
On one hand, an endless list of purchase options, which enables consumers to choose what they want from an array of products online directly from the comfort of their home. Although this is a good way to empower consumers, it can hinder consumer decision-making, causing the ‘paradox of choice’, namely the freedom of choice that makes consumers more confused, making it a lot harder for consumers to make a final purchase decision.
On the other hand, there is product curation, which offers more personalised options tailored to each consumers’ taste, which can guide them to a better purchase decision.
Ultimately, your goal as a retailer is to help customers to make the decision to buy your product or sign up for your services, whichever strategy you choose.
‘Endless aisle‘ scale enables retailers to offer an array of products and options to choose from, based on each consumer’s need. It doesn’t specifically tailor what a consumer can see while browsing a website or while exploring the shopping feed, but it gives complete power to the consumer who can navigate as much as they wish to go through the variety of options and then choose what meets their taste and needs.
Research from Nielsen shows that a large variety of choices is generally a positive thing, as it increases the chances of meeting the preferences of a diverse range of customers while also meeting their desire for novelty and change. However, choosing from many different options can be difficult. It can cause frustration and an overwhelming feeling in the consumer, who when put before an extensive range of products and services, often struggles to choose due to a lack of adequate knowledge about each one, which would ease the purchase decision-making.
In addition to prolonging the overall shopping process, offering an extensive list of options can lead to scrolling fatigue. A fatigued consumer is more likely to abandon their research, leave the website or abandon the shopping cart. Inevitably, this will impact your sales.
To confidently make a purchase, consumers often like to evaluate and explore different buying options. At this critical stage, consumers can get stuck and overwhelmed in the cycle. When the difference between attractive options gets smaller, choosing becomes difficult, so, although consumers like to have different options, brands and retailers are to consider the ‘paradox of choice‘ (an expression used by psychologist Barry Schwartz) and find ways to help consumers make good choices in the ‘endless aisle’.
As a retailer, you should reduce the chances of scrolling fatigue and frustration. How do you do this? By providing detailed information on your website as well focusing on product feed optimisation, optimising product descriptions, product titles and key product attributes.
To boost customer satisfaction with product scale, retailers should consider the below:
Enabling consumers to filter through a diverse range of products facilitates the choosing process and helps them find the right product that meets their exact need. Retailers can achieve this by adding detailed information on product differentiators like fabric, size or colour.
Try putting most the most popular and in-demand products front and centre of the virtual shop window for consumers to find them easily
For higher-value products consumers expect important information on organic material or ethical sourcing to be included in the product descriptions. For lower-value products, relevant information on delivery and return options will suffice to make the consumer more convinced of their final purchase decision.
On the other hand, there is product curation, which essentially consists of designing personalised recommendations that fit within each customer’s preference. The most popular product curation options are subscription boxes and persona styling services.
A study conducted by Euromonitor International on consumers in Europe shows that 51% of European consumers actively search for curated experiences specifically tailored to their personal taste.
Challenges that can arise with curation are ensuring that recommendation algorithms are effective in selecting products that will meet consumer needs and preferences while ensuring that consumers are entirely and actively involved in the decision-making process.
ThinkGoogle reports the below from Euromonitor International
To boost customer satisfaction with product curation, retailers should consider the below
It’s important that as a retailer you don’t remove customers from the decision-making process by narrowing down their options when offering personalised services. You should make the process easier for them while allowing for the final decision to be their own.
Retailers can use AI technology to provide smarter recommendations to best suit each customer’s taste and preferences. Better recommendations will result in more purchases and improved sales for the retailer. This can also help for long-term loyalty to your brand.
Both ‘endless aisle’ marketplaces that host an array of products and carefully curated subscription services play an important role in helping consumers click the ‘buy’ button.
The two have one requirement in common: detailed product information that will help consumers make more informed choices. When building landing pages or launching shopping ads, detailed product descriptions are a key priority. Ultimately, the more information consumers get, the more empowered they will be to make a purchase.
In our product feed optimisation best practices blog post, we explain that product descriptions and product titles are the most important aspects in google shopping. Because ‘endless aisle’ marketplaces generally offer countless products available for purchase, detailed and optimised product information will be key to help consumers distinguish one product from another.
Google matches up to 15% of search term results for shopping to words and phrases found in Product Descriptions, so these should include all the important information useful for a consumer to finalise the purchase fully conscious of their decision.
Ultimately, retailers must work on finding the right balance between scale and curation with the main goal being consumer empowerment and presentation of choices. Both scale and curation are to enable consumers to engage with the product assortment and to empower them during the exploring process until they are perfectly equipped with the relevant information to consciously make their final purchase decision.
If you need help to understand how product feed optimisation can help your businesses, whichever strategy you choose, then don’t hesitate to contact us today.