5 Ways Augmented Reality is Changing eCommerce and Dazzling Buyers in 2023

5 Ways Augmented Reality is Changing eCommerce and Dazzling Buyers in 2023

[su_quote cite=”Tim Cook, Apple (2016)”]“I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.”[/su_quote]

 

In 2021, retail eCommerce sales amounted to approx. $5.2 Trillion US dollars worldwide. Over the next 4 years, this number is forecasted to increase by 56%, to almost 8.1 Trillion, by 2026.

More merchants than ever before are investing in online stores as the industry booms. To maintain dominance in the rapidly growing market, leading brands are turning to Augmented Reality.

 

What is Augmented Reality?

 

Augmented Reality is the practice of using an AR-capable device (like a smartphone or smart glasses), to superimpose computer-generated images over real life. This gives users the impression that the superimposed image is in the real world, allowing users to interact with products physically, without ever leaving their homes. Take a look at the images below to get an idea.

 

Augmented Reality Example 1

 

Today, most US consumers already have devices that support AR experiences (yes, even you). This holiday season, expect Augmented Reality’s importance in retail to truly shine, considering in-store shopping is at an all-time low. Even B2B companies are investing in the technology for a variety of applications, from eCommerce to operations. If you don’t keep up with this trend, you could be part of the growing list of organizations falling behind during the pandemic. Continue reading to see a few AR experiences companies are using already, and some you can try yourself.

 

1) A New Standard in At-Home Retail.

Companies like Amazon and Apple are already utilizing AR experiences to bring the in-store experience into consumers’ households. With AR, shoppers can view items like furniture or appliances on their mobile devices, and place 3D product models in their home virtually. Phone and tablet users can view products anywhere, giving them the freedom to see if products fit in the space they are buying it for, prior to purchase. Consumers can ensure items are what they’re looking for, from size to shape and color, all from the comfort and safety of their homes. Check out this Augmented Reality model we built for Jura Coffee machines:

 

 

Jura Coffee Machines

Using augmented reality, we created an at-home shopping experience for Jura. With our AR design, customers can see how Jura’s coffee machines appear on their kitchen counters from home. With in-store traffic at an all time low in 2020, experiences like this help customers see the product without visiting a Jura location. Scan the code with your smartphone to view the model at home!

⬅️   Tap the buttons on the right of the image to see product features and dimensions.

 

 

In this way, AR gives buyers confidence that they are buying the right item and limit returns with Augmented Reality. Shopping for a new couch or coffee machine? Make sure it fits before tapping “buy,” without ever visiting the store.

 

In Home Retail Augmented Reality

 

For Retail, AR’s Future is Clear

 

Redstage’s Global Creative Director, Christopher Yin, had this to say about AR’s role in eCommerce: “Wayfair, Target, Walmart, Ikea, and every other juggernaut of retail has and will invest large sums in Augmented Reality in the near future, as it is the clear trend. To keep up with the largest companies in the world, you must give your customers unique and memorable experiences to retain them.” The stats speak for themselves:

[su_list icon=”icon: shopping-bag”]

  • 61% of shoppers said they would prefer to shop at stores that offer AR, as opposed to ones that don’t.
  • 40% of shoppers said they’d be willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it in AR.
  • 71% of shoppers would shop at a retailer’s store more often if they offered AR.

[/su_list]

 Source: Retail Perceptions

 

2) Unique Experiences in Consumer Goods

 

In Store Augmented Reality

 
Virtual Try-On gives the In-Store Experience At Home

 

While you don’t need a dedicated app to enable AR experiences, these are a few ways top names in CPG are taking the tech to the next level. Augmented Reality is already being used to enhance in-store experiences. Utilizing their branded AR app, shoppers at American Apparel can scan clothing and footwear right on the rack and view information typical of an eCommerce store right from their phone. They can find the right sizes, colors, styles, and even customer reviews all while shopping in the store.

With Sephora’s in-store “magic” mirror, shoppers can try on different kinds of makeup with Augmented Reality. With facial recognition technology, smart mirrors can automatically detect different facial features and apply a wide variety of cosmetic products directly to users’ reflections. Remember, 40% of shoppers said they’d be willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it in AR. This applies to in-store shoppers as well.

 

 

 

AR Try On

We designed this sample model of an AR Eyeglasses to show retailers and manufacturers how popular appliances can be viewed from anywhere.

📲 Point your smartphone camera at the QR code to try it out, wherever you are!

 

 

It’s easy to see how experiences like this increase customer satisfaction by ensuring they get the product they want. This prevents the disappointment of out-of-stock products while reducing returns and increasing sales. Bring the online shopping features your customers love to your physical stores and see in-store sales grow in tandem.

 

3) Augmenting Products and Packaging

 

 

 

 

Recently, the team at Redstage created an AR concept for Panini, one of the largest manufacturers of sports playing cards in the world. The benefits of this AR experience include:

[su_list icon=”icon: check”]

  • Adding an interactive dimension to playing cards.
  • Encourage use of branded apps to experience AR, encouraging up-sells.
  • Provide new experiences to engage and entice customers to purchase.
  • Allow shoppers to check packaging in-store for AR experiences in the aisle.
  • The potential to revolutionize the playing card and collectibles industry.

[/su_list]

 

 

 

 

Lidar scanned shoes

We used Lidar scanning to create this model with ultra realistic results. This technique is best suited for clothing and organic objects vs traditional 3D modeling.

📲 Point your smartphone camera at the QR code to try it out, wherever you are!

 

4) Augmented Reality Gives Confidence and Freedom in Fashion

 

Augmented Reality Try It On At Home Luxury Goods

 

There’s nothing worse than buying clothing online that ends up not looking, feeling, or fitting how you hoped. Dodge returns this holiday season by using Augmented Reality to let shoppers virtually try-on clothes. Let them see the fit and cut of clothes in real-time, on their body, or let them walk around apparel items on a virtual model.

Do the earrings match? Is the dress long enough? Most of the time, shoppers don’t know their dimensions off the top of their heads. With AR, 3D product models are based on real dimensions, increasing buyer’s confidence in their purchase. Again, this will undoubtedly lower returns and can grow repeat customers who enjoy the experience.

 

AR for Accessories & Luxury Goods

 

 

Ring

We designed this sample model of an AR Ring to show retailers and manufacturers how popular appliances can be viewed from anywhere.

📲 Point your smartphone camera at the QR code to try it out, wherever you are!

 

 

Continuing in the theme of “bringing the in-store shopping experience to your home,” it’s just as important for consumers to see how accessories look on their body without visiting the store. Imagine seeing rings on your fingers, a watch on your wrist, or a necklace on your neck, without ever stopping by the jewelry store. All this and more is being implemented by top brands today. Sephora and Covergirl are even using AR for new makeup and cosmetics experiences.

So far, we’ve seen the Try-It-On-At-Home (TIOAH) AR experience implemented for:

[su_list icon=”icon: star”]

  • Bracelets
  • Earrings
  • Makeup
  • Nail Polish
  • Necklaces
  • Rings
  • Watches
  • And more!

[/su_list]

 

5) Using Your eCommerce Platform for Augmented Reality

Apparel designer Rebecca Minkoff has been improving conversion rates consistently with AR and 3D models, here’s how:

 

 

Rebecca Minkoff has been using 3D models on their product pages since the fall of 2019. 3D models give customers a 360-degree view of products, increasing interactivity over stationary photos. Jon Wade, head of Augmented and Virtual Reality at a leading eCommerce platform says, “We’ve found that visitors who interacted with a 3D model were 44% more likely to add a product to their cart and 27% more likely to place an order that visitors who didn’t. Furthermore, when visitors viewed a product in AR, they became 65% more likely to make a purchase.”

 

[su_quote]“Visitors who interacted with a 3D model were 44% more likely to add a product to their cart and 27% more likely to place an order that visitors who didn’t. Furthermore, when visitors viewed a product in AR, they became 65% more likely to make a purchase.”[/su_quote]

 

Knitted tie manufacturer Broni and Bo is another merchant utilizing Augmented Reality in their online showroom. Enhanced with facial recognition software, customers can try on knitted bowties and wedding ties before the big day, giving customers confidence that they chose the right look. There’s no limit to the experiences you can give customers with Augmented Reality and 3D models.

 

Bow Tie Facial Recognition

 

 

AR models can bring your product pages to life and automatically display interactive 3D models when viewed on a desktop computer. Increase buyer engagement and make consumers more confident in their purchase from the beginning with AR and 3D models.

 

Misconceptions about Augmented Reality:

 

1) It’s too expensive: FALSE!

Implementing Augmented Reality in your online store is not nearly as expensive as you may think, which is why so many companies are investing in it right now.

 

2) It’s difficult and time-consuming to build AR models: FALSE!

With the right team, who has experience and knowledge, it is both easy and fast to implement Augmented Reality and 3D models into your store.

 

3) Implementation requires additional tech and infrastructure: FALSE!

Most eCommerce platforms are already set up to allow for Augmented experiences. They take no extra implementations or infrastructure to implement!

Jon Wade, head of AR and VR at Shopify, mentioned this about AR’s ease of use, “Any mainstream browser works for AR, you don’t need any additional hardware, software, or expert knowledge to experience it. It works on all new mobile devices, desktops, and tablets.”

 

4) AR will kill the load-time of my product pages: FALSE! 

The right team can implement AR experiences without sacrificing load time or website performance.

 

Want to Learn More About AR Implementation?

To show you how easy it is to make an AR design, send a .EPS file of your company’s logo to info@redstage.com and we’ll send you an AR model of your company logo for free. Test out the technology and see how quick the turn around time can be.

To learn more about how we can bring your AR dreams to life, visit https://www.redstage.com/augmented-reality-design to schedule your free consultation.

 

5 Must-Have B2B eCommerce Features for 2023

5 Must-Have B2B eCommerce Features for 2023

In the past few years, B2B companies across industries have been adopting eCommerce as the main channel for selling products. B2B eCommerce alone accounts for $1 Trillion in sales today and continues to grow. According to Statista, Millennials now make up over 60% of the B2B buyer demographic, making them the single largest demographic of B2B buyers today. But what does this mean for you, the B2B seller?

As buyers grow more accustomed to better customer experiences provided by top eCommerce platforms, there are a growing number of features this new generation of buyers has come to demand from their suppliers. In order to grow your sales pipeline, retain, and attract these buyers you should seriously consider these 5 must-have B2B eCommerce features.

 

B2B eCommerce Features Your Store Needs

 

1. Advanced Site Search

 

on site search advanced search

 

Advanced on-site search is crucial for making sure your customers can find exactly the products they need quickly and easily. Typically, B2B products have a lot of specific parameters, (weight, length, height, size, shape, etc.), making searches easy by allowing customers to search by these parameters or SKU numbers.

“We’ve seen the conversion rate of users who search be 6-8x that of visitors that don’t use search,” says Redstage CEO Adam Morris. “Utilizing search shows intent and having a powerful search is crucial to capturing high converting customers. If a user can’t find the exact product they’re looking for due to slow, out-of-the-box, and not customized for market searches, you will lose the sale.”

A powerful advanced on-site search can make all the difference. Smart search features reduce the likelihood of expensive returns, refunds, and abandoned carts. In Klevu’s recent report, they found that 50% of B2B buyers identify improved personalization as a key factor when searching for online suppliers with whom to build business relationships. Furthermore, 48% of consumers spend more when they receive personalized experiences. Because of this, it’s critical to provide the best search experience possible. Don’t let a sub-part search experience keep you from unlocking guaranteed sales. See the rest of the report here.

 

 

“We’ve seen the conversion rate of users who search be 6-8x that of visitors that don’t use search” – Redstage CEO Adam Morris

 

 

2. Custom Product Filters

 

advanced product filters product categorization categories

 

Giving your customers the ability to filter by different product parameters allows them to quickly find what they’re looking for on the category page. Custom product filters allow merchants to display more information about a product’s qualities or attributes and allow customers to more easily refine product searches.

AI-driven dynamic filters on your category pages can automatically display the most relevant attributes to customers, making the buying process even easier. Adding images in product filters can make the process even faster and remove another chunk of friction from the process.

One of our Redstage’s platform expert Solution Engineers, Benjamin Shapiro, had this to say, “If evaluating an eCommerce system, consider what options are available for custom product filters. Does the platform natively support this? Does the native search work well with custom filters? Are there third-party options available? Choose a system that meets your unique requirements or that can be built to suit if required.”

These can make all the difference between your customers finding the exact product they need or abandoning your site for a competitor.

 

3. Customer Segmentation Groups and Profiles

 

b2b customer profile

 

Segmenting different buyers into customer groups allows you to create profiles for certain kinds of buyers. This allows you to ensure different customers get the right pricing and see the products most relevant to them. It also enables you to utilize upselling and recommendations to increase average order value (AOV). Keeping your customer groups in mind when setting up site search and custom filters is key to helping the right customers see the right filters and results.

Using segmentation, separate customers into categories by company size, company needs, and industry. This can help you provide another layer of personalization and more value to different kinds of customers. A report done by Notify Visitors found that 80% of consumers do business with brands that customize their experience to them. They also found that segmentation makes firms 60% more likely to understand customers’ challenges and concerns and 130% more likely to know their intentions. This makes selling the right products to the right customers exponentially easier.

“Successful B2B eCommerce includes considering customers individually and as groups,” says Shapiro. “Consider setting aside time to evaluate your current Customer Group/Segmentation strategy and review the data of both customer groups and individual customers. Segmenting your customers is an opportunity to drive additional revenue through your eCommerce platform and provide your marketing team with valuable insight into customer behavior.”

 

4. Advanced Shipping Options

 

advanced shipping fulfillment logictics

 

Some B2B buyers want fast shipping, even if it’s not cheap. At the same time, others want shipping to be as cost-effective as possible, no matter how long it may take. Keeping your new customer segments in mind, B2B sellers must provide advanced shipping options for all their buyers and serve their individual needs. Many B2B companies have complex shipping needs, like delivery to multiple locations or drop-shipping from different warehouses to keep inventory down.

Utilizing fulfillment software, such as ShipperHQ, can increase productivity and decrease headaches and hiccups. The right shipping software can help build a shipping strategy that aligns with your business goals and these customer demands. Provide automatic checkout that considers what they’re ordering, how frequently, and how much volume every time to increase reorder rates. And, provide order tracking and tailored shipping rates to customers with discounts and other arrangements automatically, all within one system.

 

5. Product Information Management software

product information management

 

Due to complex product catalogs and new buyer habits, it can be difficult for online merchants to keep product information updated and consistent across multiple selling channels or sites. Think about how complex information gets across Amazon listings, Walmart, local retailers, and DTC channels. A product information management solution (PIM) can help. These solutions provide a single dashboard to collect, manage, and enrich your product information. 

PIMs save you money by lowering product enrichment costs by up to 5x. They can also reduce returns by as much as 40%, and increase conversion rate by more than 400%, according to Akeneo. Imagine what you could do by empowering your team with a PIM, allowing them to update or change product info in one place and automatically update it wherever it appears on the web. The ability to update product attributes on the fly will only strengthen the power of custom filters and your advanced search. Altogether, these features can pack a punch and give you a serious edge over the competition.

 

Why You Need To Implement Now

 

B2B distributor The Binding Source saw huge gains after optimizing their B2B buying experience with the features mentioned above. They implemented strong custom product filters on their category pages, integrated ShipperHQ for advanced shipping options and optimizing fulfillment, and built customer profiles and groups to segment buyers for custom pricing and product rules. The result? Within 1 month of launching these new features, The Binding Source conversion rate skyrocket 170%, and saw transactions grow 33%!

These B2B features aren’t simply “nice to have,” they’re must-haves. The stats speak for themselves. If your B2B eCommerce site doesn’t have all the features the new generation of buyers are expecting, they’ll find a competitor of yours that does. Contact Redstage to implement one or more of these features today!

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B2B eCommerce – 4 Priorities when Diving into Digital Transformation

B2B eCommerce – 4 Priorities when Diving into Digital Transformation

If you’re a B2B merchant still relying on email, spreadsheets, faxes, pen and paper, and other legacy technologies to run your business, you’re leaving a ton of revenue on the table for your competition to snatch up. The single biggest way to expand your business and scale is by diving into digital transformation or adding an online selling channel. 

 

An online selling channel can go by many names, an eCommerce store, an online buying portal, a customer marketplace, or a self-service digital selling platform. They all have one thing in common, giving customers access to buy products digitally, at their own discretion. 

 

Keep this number in mind: 

When compared to the highest revenue-driving sales models, eCommerce beats out email, online chat, video conferences, and phone calls by a wide margin, according to McKinsey and Company’s research. 

 

ECommerce is driving more revenue, and buyers prefer merchants who sell online through eCommerce.  

In the same report, McKinsey found eCommerce was also the single most effective sales channel, beating out even in-person meetings, for the first time ever. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  

 

With more merchants selling via digital channels this year than any other year in history, the sprint to eCommerce has never been more important or more saturated. 

 

So, what do you do? 

 

As a merchant jumping into eCommerce and online sales channels for the first time, or if the first time didn’t go as planned, there are a couple of things you need to lock down before you dive straight into eCommerce platforms, integrations, feature sets, and all that other good stuff. 

 

Before picking an eCommerce platform on which to build and hire developers, here are 4 things you need to think about on this journey to set yourself up for success:

1. Data Clean up and Consolidation

 

 

We’ve been there… and it’s not pretty 

 

A problem plaguing many merchants, and even more out in the B2B ecosystem, is a seemingly impossible amount of data living in many separate sources, unconnected to each other. Some product data in this sheet, some customer data over here, with no way for these data points to talk to each other besides manual analysis.  

 

This lack of organization/consolidation is the first hurdle you must overcome before you dive into the deep end of eCommerce. 

 

This may seem more daunting than it really is, and one of the fastest ways to alleviate the pressure of organizing and consolidating all your own data is by looking into an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Solution. A software solution like NetSuite ERP can often really help with data clean-up and analysis. ERPs are an all-in-one business management solution that help businesses run more efficiently using technology. There are also more niche solutions, like BTS-it, an ERP solution specifically for the metal manufacturing industry. Sunshine Metals integrated BTS-it into their eCommerce solution BigCommerce, you can see how they managed it here. 

 

Specifically for product information, a PIM (Product Information Management) solution can help by digitizing and organizing your product data all in one place. There are many ways you can do this, but in our experience, PIMs tend to be the most user-friendly and easy to set up, with a trusted team to help along the way. 

 

If you plan to introduce commerce on your website, these solutions will be paramount in setting yourself up for success down the road. The only way to analyze these data points is to have them all live in the same place, and analyzing data is the best way to decide what your next steps are without guesswork and trial and error.  

 

If your data is clean and able to be analyzed, you are already closer to being the next success story in B2B eCommerce, able to be agile and make data-driven decisions when the time comes. That said, legacy data is RARELY (if ever) “clean,” so it would be prudent to begin data cleanup and standardization as an ongoing practice. 

 

Our friend Amy did a further deep dive into how to clean up your data and get the most out of it in her article, Turn Data Into Dollars with these 6 Tips on Product Data Governance.

 

 

2. Streamlining and Digitizing Admin Processes

 

 

Once your data lives in one platform, allowing us to pull reports and analyses easily, it is time to streamline and digitize the rest of your processes.  

 

But what exactly does this mean? 

 

Well, there are many processes that go into running a business on the back end, from your fulfillment and logistical workflows to payroll, taxes, sales, and many more. 

 

After identifying your data stack, organizing, and digitizing it, your next step is to do the same for all the business processes that take up many hours on a day-to-day basis. No more manually inputting hours and calculating payroll and taxes, gone are the days of spreadsheets and written order forms going to the warehouse for fulfillment.  

 

These legacy processes are stealing hours and hours of your workweek, hours that could be opened for business development and scaling if they were streamlined, digitized, and automated. 

 

A couple of key things to identify when moving to automation and digitization are: 

  • Identifying repetitive tasks done every day, or on a weekly basis, that can be automated by software 

  • Creating standard operating procedures and inputting these standards into software that will keep this standard up. This may include how reports are structured, the correct workflow for getting an order into fulfillment, the process when a new customer is received and onboarded, etc. 

  • Finding the right software and partners that can connect to your website, so all these processes and workflows live in one place, making it easier to maintain and optimize than if they all lived in various spreadsheets and other areas. 

 

With these 3 things in mind, Guy Harvey (an Intradeco company) digitized and automated many of their business processes, like their inventory management, fulfillment, and sales processes. Almost immediately, they saw improvements in productivity, fulfillment efficiency, and overall employee morale. Finding a partner agency to help with the best practices of automation and digitization may be something for you to think about.  

 

For now, let us continue to our next priority.

 

 

3. Security

 

 

Now, let’s talk about security. 

 

At the end of 2020 and into 2021, more than 2,000 websites running Magento 1 post-End of Life were hacked. These breaches gave the hackers access to customer data, like payment information, and brought many of these businesses to their knees. 

 

One of the most important things to think about at this stage of the game is the security of your website. Before moving into eCommerce, you must prioritize security now that your data and business workflows are digitized. One of the biggest mistakes eCommerce merchants make is leaving their security as a “minor priority” or something to worry about in the future. Security is a proactive priority, not a reactive one, and you need to have strong security features in place before your customer’s data gets breached, which can cause major headaches in the future. 

 

The biggest thing to keep in mind when it comes to security is whether you have the resources to deal with it in-house, or if you should look for a security partner, like our friends over at Webscale. If you do not have the capabilities to stay on top of web security with your team, looking externally for help will ensure there is always someone around to deal with site breaches, outages, slowdowns, and more.

 

4. Understand Your Buyers’ Wants and Needs

 

 

The last step before building out your self-service buying portal, selling marketplace, or eCommerce website is knowing what your customers’ wants and needs are. 

 

Of course, this is important for any business, digital or non. However, here are some key things for you to think about pre-eCommerce: 

 

  • How do your customers typically purchase? Credit? Purchase orders?  

  • Do your customers browse your entire catalog, or do they usually utilize search to find specific products or parameters? 

  • Do your customers need advanced shipping options, due to having multiple warehouses, brick-and-mortar locations, or other needs? 

  • Do buyers need to be verified or have a log-in to access your catalog? 

  • Do certain customer segments or profiles get special pricing?  

 

If you are asking yourself these questions, you’re on the right track.  

 

But why do we need to know how our buyers think and interact with the site? Well, this will allow us to plan for what premium B2B features your website is going to need to provide your customers with the buying experience they desire from you. 

 

The Binding Source, a B2B distribution company, took these things and more into consideration before they chose an eCommerce platform for their site to live on. They needed custom product filtering for the search functionality, purchase order acceptance and auto-tax exemptions, advanced shipping options with ShipperHQ, a gated buyer portal requiring log-in verification, and more. 

 

After evaluating what their needs were and what types of site functionalities and features they would need, they chose BigCommerce to build their site on. While BigCommerce is not a one-size-fits-all platform, it fits TBS’s needs perfectly and helped the distribution company improve its conversion rate by 170% post-launch, with a 33% boost in transaction volume.

 

 

Next Steps

 

 

Now, We know it is a lot to process, but these are the 4 most important things for B2B’s to be thinking about before they jump into implementing eCommerce into their online presence.  

 

At this point, we have all our data organized and structured, our business processes digitized and automated, our site security at the forefront of our minds, and our customers’ needs and wants fleshed out. 

 

To take that leap off the diving board and dive in, it’s time to decide whether you have the resources to build out a fully-fledged eCommerce website in-house, or if it’s time to call an eCommerce agency, like Redstage.  

 

The difference between calling an agency and simply dedicating a developer for this is the experience, the expertise and the dedicated time to ensuring your eCommerce implementation is successful.  

 

If you have any questions or want to know the next steps in implementing online selling for your business, you can get a hold of us here.

 

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7 Ways to Boost B2B and Wholesale eCommerce Revenue

7 Ways to Boost B2B and Wholesale eCommerce Revenue

For B2B retailers, it’s no longer enough to simply have a functioning eCommerce website. Instead, you must be able to replicate the same B2C website experiences with which shoppers are familiar in their personal lives.

Shoppers want robust product information. They want advanced search capabilities, so they can quickly find the specific products they’re looking for. And of course, they want to do it all from their mobile devices.

As much as 80% of B2B buying decisions are based on a buyer’s direct or indirect customer experience, with only 20% based on the price or the actual offering. Part of this change in expectations can be attributed to the growing millennial numbers in the workforce. For instance, in 2020, close to half of B2B buyers were millennials — nearly double the amount from 2012. Not only are they in the workplace, but millennials are also much more involved in making business decisions. A recent report found that 44% of millennials are making purchasing decisions while 33% say they are key influencers or recommenders in the purchasing process.

 

So, what can you do to capture their needs and create compelling customer experiences?

 

 

1. Enrich your product catalog

 

 

In the beginning, all search engines were “the same,” they relied on keywords and manual inputs. Merchandisers were left to scour Analytics to find out the search terms that are resulting in zero results. At that point, they would update their catalog. But as that kept happening, they would find they were unable to accommodate the number of words necessary in product titles and descriptions. Then, systems opened the back end and enabled merchandisers to add synonyms there, so they didn’t need to keep adding keywords to the front end. Sounds good, right?

 

The problem with this approach, however, is a customer had to be shown a ‘no results’ page first in order for the retailer to know synonyms needed to be added, resulting in a poor experience. By the time the synonym was added to the system, the real customer was gone, possibly never to return. Enter Klevu.

 

Klevu AI helps retailers automatically add relevant synonyms to their product catalog without any manual work. It takes a product feed, considers the context of a store, and injects synonyms so whatever way a shopper is searching, they will find relevant products. For example, if they type in “jeans,” denim will appear. If they search for “beige,” neutral will also appear. And no customers are hit with unnecessary “no results” pages.

 

Klevu’s product catalog enrichment is a huge time saver for B2B and wholesale businesses who may have large catalogs that update frequently, as well as customers who come back to the website over and over again, searching for items their own unique way.

 

 

2. Make your search look sensational

 

 

Once your products are findable by any query, it’s essential to make search the most magnetic journey on your website. It’s a fact that traffic through site search converts 3-5x better than non-search journeys.

 

First, build a search overlay that immediately displays recommendations right when the shopper clicks into the search bar. Second, exposing the search bar in your main navigation encourages the use of search in the first place. When you expose the entire search bar in your website header, you’re not only encouraging the use of search, you can even make search more appealing. Typically, this really benefits mobile journeys. Brands that use Klevu have seen a 44% increase in orders from mobile search when exposing the search bar.

 

As you can see here on GF Smith, a paper manufacturer and supplier, the search bar is not only exposed, it is highlighted with moving text that describes what the shopper can do.

 

an example of strong on site search for b2b

 

 

For a B2B or wholesale brand, you might explain to your shoppers that you can search using complex descriptions like patterns, price range, or brand. A good eCommerce search engine will be able to support natural language queries such as these.

 

 

3. Eliminate dead ends

 

 

Shoppers will abandon the website if they are faced with a dead end like a zero results page, instead of trying a new search or considering maybe the product is there, but it just didn’t surface.

 

B2B retailers often have to factor in a wide range of search terms. Customers may search by SKU, a part or model number, a trade name, or any number of other identifiers. With this in mind, it’s vital to ensure your eCommerce store’s product discovery solution has the most advanced capacity for interpreting shopper intent.

 

Natural Language Processing

 

Natural Language Processing (NLP) based search focuses, not on the keywords, used but on their actual meaning. For example, a customer may search for “spotty socks” and be served with a range of polka dot socks, even if the term “spotty” does not appear in any of the associated product information.

 

This sidesteps the issues that arise from users inputting a wide range of search terms as they try to second-guess what the store they’re browsing will recognize. By bringing up products that are likely to meet the criteria of the customer, but which do not feature any of the words of their search query within their listing, businesses can ensure higher customer satisfaction and better conversion rates.

 

The bottom line – using an eCommerce search engine with NLP processing can boost eCommerce conversion from search by 12%.

 

 

4. Merchandise, but with the help of AI

 

 

AI isn’t creepy, it’s customer-centric. Merchandisers can waste hours over-merchandising their stores only to realize that shoppers are digging for products a different way, using filters and re-ordering. Klevu allows retailers to balance AI and control by merchandising just enough and letting the AI do the rest, based on real trending data.

 

A great example of this expertise in action is in relation to seasonality, which can be incredibly important in the B2B space. Retailers need a way to be able to promote certain products at specific times. Knowledge that certain seasonal shifts are about to kick in means that the right products can be boosted even before AI picks up on the demand and promotes the trend.

 

Additionally, at different times of the year, retailers may wish to prioritize or promote stock within a small window of time that is about to fall out of favor, or that commands higher profit margins. Again, this is all reflective of a deep and personal understanding of your own B2B vertical that should be integrated into your on-site search.

 

A product like Klevu gives you the opportunity to override the algorithms and merchandise in advance. This means that B2B customers have complete control when it comes to fine-tuning their SRLPs and Category pages.

 

In addition, Klevu offers an eCommerce personalization engine that creates eCommerce experiences that align with an individual shopper’s motivation.

 

 

5. Search-powered product recommendations

 

 

Another way to avoid dead ends on your website is to constantly refresh your product recommendations, and include them on multiple page types including homepage, product listing pages including search and categories, product detail pages, and in the basket. Product recommendations featuring complimentary suggestions or recommendations based on recent browsing history can have a real impact on average order values, at least a 7% increase.

 

Making sure you can keep them fresh without too much resource overhead is really important, though. It’s impossible to do this at scale manually, but an AI solution like Klevu Smart Recommendations uses insights from search to constantly refresh product recommendations to be in line with shopper intent.

 

Eurokangas, a Finnish fabric supplier, has a large product catalog, with some merchandising categories containing hundreds or even thousands of products. Eurokangas saw rapid improvements across a range of KPIs after implementing the full Klevu Discovery Suite: Smart Search, Smart Category Merchandising, and Smart Recommendations.

 

Within just 2-weeks, and with minimal manual effort, click-through rates on category pages more than doubled, and conversion rate across mobile and tablet, which make up more than 60% of visits to the site, increased by 20%.

 

 

6. Curate Content With On-Site Search

 

olam spices b2b marketplace on-site search

By integrating high-quality content such as buying guides into B2B and wholesale eCommerce websites, retailers can give trade customers a reason to keep coming back to buy from them.

 

Some on-site search solutions allow store owners to enable content-based results such as blog posts or targeted buying guides that appear in-line with search results. This is fantastic for B2B retailers as it enables them to serve highly-focused and specialized content to customers who are already displaying a strong indication of intent to purchase.

 

An excellent example of this tactic in action comes from Olam Spices. When a search term is entered into its B2B site, products are recalled, but so too are market reports and articles giving a broad range of relevant and interesting industry content. By displaying this content, Olam helps inform and educate customers, while ensuring they find the right product for them. At the same time, the merchant cements its reputation as a leader and expert in its field.

 

7. Get Smart with Filtering & Facets

 

One of the key issues B2B retailers face regarding the product discoverability of their online stores is the tendency towards large and highly technical product catalogs. If customers can’t find what they need on your website, they know chances are good they can find it quickly on a competitor’s site.

 

Give your customers the ability to narrow down search results and help them hone in on the exact product they need as quickly as possible.

 

b2b search in automotive industry

 

Klevu developed an advanced search function for B2B and B2C retailers in the automotive sector that allows shoppers that know exactly what they are looking for, to choose the make/model/year within search. How it works: Within the product data, associations are made between products suitable for different car makes and models and/or years of a car. So, a shopper can drill down to their specific make/model/year and see products compatible with their choice at the top of the product list. As you can see here with Morris 4x4 Center, the chosen make/model/year persists for the whole session, including subsequent searches, until cleared or changed by the shopper.

 

 

So, what’s next?

 

At Klevu, we believe that great customer experience isn’t reserved for B2C retailers and that technology and innovation aren’t the privileges of a chosen few. B2B buyers are digitally savvy, potentially even digital natives.

Klevu has helped retailers power their on-site search, category merchandising, and product recommendations. Typically, the uplift for most eCommerce brands is:

 

  • Conversion from search increases by 6x
  • Average order values increase by 6%
  • Site-wide eCommerce conversion increases by 15%

 

Klevu helps B2B and wholesale brands create magically personal and relevant product discovery journeys that appear effortless, and build brand equity by delighting shoppers at every click, swipe, or search. Get a free product discovery audit at klevu.com/audit

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Turn Data into Dollars with these 6 Tips on Product Data Governance

Turn Data into Dollars with these 6 Tips on Product Data Governance

I’ve been there. You’re staring at a seemingly impossible amount of data in Excel with no idea how to eat the proverbial elephant. You know that you need structure; you know that data is everything to grow your eCommerce channel and maybe you aren’t entirely sure why. You hear experts talk about “data quality” and “data governance” and quite honestly, you just want to sell more of your product and ensure your site is following best practices for your customers. 

Amy Buchanan

Amy Buchanan

Business Analyst

Hi, my name is Amy Buchanan, and I am a product data geek. I have served in various roles in a data steward capacity, and I love to help companies solve the puzzle of their product data. Salsify Certified and experienced in other product data solutions, I am one of many team members at Redstage that can help your company increase revenue, increase conversion, and optimize your systems for success.

It can be challenging to sell process and back-end systems improvements to senior leadership. The systems are not customer facing and they aren’t bringing anything new and shiny to your website to draw in a customer. Yet as everyone knows, if your house foundation is damaged or faulty, you are likely facing some serious (and costly) issues. Maybe not today but in the future, as your business grows, suddenly you find yourself with a huge mountain of data and no way to consistently manage or gain valuable insights. It’s also common that your company has gone through a merger or acquisition and now you’re faced with multiple sources of data with no strategy to consolidate it into a unified experience for your customers.

We’ll get started with a few tips, to at least make your research efforts more targeted. Need more help? Feel free to reach out to our team and we can get you connected to our Redstage experts.

1. Fix the Foundation – Invest in Structuring Your Data

data structure is the foundation of your business

Depending on the current state of your product data and what system capabilities you have today, you may be able to start applying some structure and getting immediate results.

Question:

Do you have product data attributes that you could clean up and make into a drop-down list?

Each industry is different, but here’s an example applied in the clothing industry:

Clothing is often bucketed in size ranges on websites to help customers browse to the section that applies to them. You may see values like:

  • Men’s
  • Women’s
  • Boys’
  • Girls’
  • Unisex

Or values such as:

  • Adults’
  • Youth
  • Kids’

That seems straightforward. However, if your data is not normalized, perhaps from different sources, you may also see values like:

  • Men’s
  • Mens
  • Men

While to a human reading this list, we will interpret these values as the same thing, your systems cannot.  This will lead to miscategorization of the products due to the redundant filter/attribute values.  The customer may be confused, and they may even abandon their session if this lack of organization occurs as a less effective user experience…and that turns into lost revenue for your organization.

2. Call the Experts – Implement a PIM Solution

pim experts

You’ve tried MS Excel; you’ve tried outdated data warehouse tools. Maybe you even tried to build an MS Access database to add structure to your data, and it just isn’t enough. You have too much volume or even too much complexity to your data and you need help and fast. 

There is good news! There are a variety of PIM (Product Information Management) or MDM (Master Data Management) tools out there that will suit your business. The organizations that support these systems have done all the heavy lifting of providing you with a tool to help your business, and all your team needs to do is work with an implementation team to configure and stand one up. Depending on the size of your product assortment and organization, a typical PIM implementation can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months, and it is well worth the investment.

As you stand back and look at the structured data, workflows to review and approve data, various channels you can create to customize data for different sources, you will see how your team will be able to move faster and reach those company sales goals easier.

3. Does Your Data Speak SEO? – Optimizing Your Data for Search

is your product data SEO friendly?

Your website data may be pristine, but if search engines like Google cannot find it, then you will always be chasing how to get more traffic on your website. If you aren’t sure where to start, Redstage can make some suggestions on SEO partners that can help put together a strategy and plan to get your website where it needs to be.

You can also leverage resources on schema.org to ensure that your website is using the correct markup – that’s the language the SEO Crawler likes best. You can also use the work you put in step one to increase the SEO value of your website. By giving your products the titles that your customers are searching for, you are more likely to increase your ranking in Google Search Results, which means an increase in organic traffic to your website. More customers very naturally lead to an increase in sales!

4. Cross-Selling and Upselling – What does that have to do with Product Data?

selling related products based on customer preferences

While you can manually associate products to one another using your CMS (Content Management System) tool, this can be a time-consuming manual effort. If you have taken the step to implement a PIM solution, many products out on the market will also allow you to create relationships between products.

These relationships can often be created manually or dynamically leveraging how the products are categorized in your PIM. You may have a product that has some accessories you want to suggest to your customers for an upsell opportunity. Or there may be related products (like similar brands or items in the same category) that you want to make available to your customers. Many eCommerce platforms also automatically assist you with this step by offering widgets to display popular products (based on website sales) or even feature new products (based on when products are added to your store) right on your home page, without any additional effort.

5. Use Analytics to Understand Customer Behavior

use analytics to make sure you're servicing customer wants

You probably already have Google Analytics set up on your website, and if you do not, go do that after you read this post!

Question:

How are your customers searching for products?

Make sure you use their words in your website content. Another thing you can do for a quick win is identify which attributes your customers use to shop for your products, and make sure they show up in the filters on your website and are included in your website’s search criteria.

Attributes such as:

  • Size
  • Color
  • Flavor
  • Battery Type
  • Frequency
  • Power
  • Height
  • Width
  • Length

…or whatever attributes suits your products and customer expectations.

Perform some competitive analysis using a tool like Google Trends (for example) or see how your competitors are structuring their data. This type of data can usually be identified from an existing data set if you have written a description of your product on your website’s product detail page. Once you have these attributes separated out, you can also use them to create a more personalized experience for your customer and get them to the content they want, quickly, so they can click “Add to Cart” and make their purchase.

6. Data Ownership – Accountability Ensures Your Business Stays on Track

entrust product data ownership to one person to ensure it gets the care it needs

So, let’s say you perform step 1-5 and you are really proud with all the work your team has put in to get your website product data in good shape. Does that mean you’re done? Unfortunately, not yet.  We would suggesting having someone in your organization to continually monitor your data quality and data completeness, so everything is continuously optimized.

By assigning data owners to different aspects of your product data, you will ensure that someone is continually monitoring and ensuring that your product data meets your company guidelines and fulfills your business goals.

For example, if you have compliance needs, it’s a common best practice to ensure you have a team member that can validate data from a safety and hazardous materials perspective. This may be within your legal department or even an outside agency. Establishing processes to validate new products going to the website can be facilitated by a PIM solution, and periodic review can also be performed to ensure that you catch any compliance concerns before they turn into costly legal issues.

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Phew! I know this can seem like a lot and whether you just need some guidance or if you are looking to create a partnership with a team that will be your Sherpa up Mount Product Data, please let us know how we can help you!

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