Tech Bytes: Three Modern Strategies for Product Discovery
Enabling consumer product discovery in the omnichannel age is not a simple or easy matter. Having merchandise available and visible on store shelves is no longer sufficient. Meanwhile, products consumers see on e-commerce sites are mostly determined by prior behavior or their search choices. Furthermore, it is hard to serve effective digital promotions on the mobile screens consumers are increasingly using to shop.
So, how can retailers promote wide-ranging product discovery, including goods consumers may not be looking for or even know about, in this modern shopping environment? Here are a few strategies that may prove useful to help consumers discover new products in 2016 and beyond.
The idea of using unpaid (or minimally paid) consumers as “brand advocates” to promote goods on social media has been around for a while. But in an era where consumers can personalize their shopping experience to the point there is no unplanned product exposure, brand advocates are becoming a critical component of retailer marketing strategies.
Consumers will ignore social media posts coming from a retailer or brand, and social media ads are little more than background noise. But if they learn to trust a fellow consumer who advocates items they normally shop for, they will probably be willing to at least click on that consumer’s postings about other products, as well.
The Internet is increasingly becoming a video-based medium, and consumers show more willingness to click on video than other forms of content. Video offers retailers an ideal opportunity to dynamically present a wide range of products and demonstrate their uses in a short period of time.
Videos can be presented thematically, such as ideas for the holidays or ways to spruce up your home, to encompass a broad assortment. Even videos focused on a specific product or brand can still feature complementary items the viewer may not have been actively searching for.
To maximize the potential of product discovery videos, retailers can leverage functionality that allows consumers to directly make purchases from videos. A good example of this type of promotion is the six-part YouTube interactive video series, “The House on Hallow Hill,” Target ran during the 2015 Halloween season. The interactive videos took viewers through a haunted house and let them visit different themed rooms, with the opportunity to directly buy featured products.
The consumer has taken control of the rest of the shopping experience, so why not use technology to let them take control of product discovery? Retailers can allow shoppers to directly engage with trained representatives via text, chat, in-store kiosks or even phone call to have broad conversations that can lead to them finding new and unexpected items.
Even natural language search engines cannot produce the type of unanticipated product discovery that a free-flowing (technology-aided) conversation with a human being can generate. A customer who vaguely knows they want to buy some new items for spring can have their focus sharpened through human engagement.
The live person on the other end of the conversation can also determine if perhaps the customer has relatives, friends or even pets they also want to buy for, leading to the discovery of products they would never otherwise consider.