An online shop is a large digital warehouse, filled to the brim with products. Next to the racks are nameplates for each category: sweaters, car tires or insurance, for example. The products are often sorted. And they're regularly put in the right bin. A bin for yellow sweaters in size M, winter tires size 205/55 R16 91H or health insurance with a reimbursement policy and a deductible of 685 euros.
Super convenient of course... If you know what you are looking for. And if you understand which product features are important and relevant to you. You find your product, put it in your shopping cart and checkout. Before you know it, it is delivered to your home, maybe even the same day. #tasty easy
Turn shoppers into buyers
But if you don't know exactly what you're looking for, if the specifications don't tell you anything, if the products are minimally different from each other, and if you need to buy something for that aunt you don't know very well at all, e-commerce works downright poorly.
Because you're not an expert in that field at all. You don't know what's important and what to look for. Without that expert knowledge, it's quite a task for you to make a well-founded choice in that homogeneous product mass. And then you often still do not know whether it is the right choice.
The way we built our online stores is not conducive to actually buying things and services. We went from offline stores to online stores, but left behind an essential store component: staff to help the customer. As a result, only the "man-with-a-mission" can score successfully online. For everyone else, the current e-commerce model does not work. On the contrary, it causes stress, procrastination, dissatisfaction and purchase anxiety.
People don't buy. Not because they are not being shouted at loud enough, but because they just don't know what to buy. If we want to make e-commerce work, we have to help customers. We must take them by the hand at the right time and assist them in their search for a suitable product. And there is a name for this: guided selling.
Guided selling is a new way in which webshops help customers online in their search for the right product. Although guided buying would actually be a better term. The idea behind guided selling is to give the customer the confidence to buy, by offering help with choice stress. It is the work that Jeroen in his bright blue T-shirt does in the physical store. It's the online still-missing version of that classic entry point:
Hi, can I help you find anything?
How does guided selling work?
Suppose you're looking for a new mattress. Normally, you would spend a lot of time browsing to expand your knowledge and find the right mattress for your specific sleep preferences.
With guided selling, you'd simply click through a Mattress Finder and answer a few questions:
What position do you sleep in?
Do you suffer from back or neck pain?
What is your weight?
Do you have a budget in mind?
After submitting your answers, you'll receive a tailored advice that shows exactly which mattresses best suit your needs — and why.
This is how guided selling works in a nutshell for the consumer. But how to make a good product finder as a webshop ? Read our article:
Offline stores consist of two essential components:
1. A space where products are displayed 2. Staff who can help customers
For 25 years, online shops have focused exclusively on part 2: displaying products. Lots and lots of products. That's fine if you know exactly what you're looking for. But if you don't know exactly, it can be quite a challenge to actually buy something.
That's where guided selling comes in. Guided selling reduces choice stress and helps customers find the right product. The result? More sales, better customer insights and more loyal customers. Just like in the store.
Although guided selling is a relatively new approach within e-commerce, we can already distinguish several types of product finders . The two most commonly used are the filter product finder and the weighted recommendation.
A filter product finder guides the customer through the regular filters already available on the category page. This also means that such a product finder is often quite technical:
How much fill weight do you want?
What level of noise?
Each query applies a filter and narrows the list of available products. Sometimes this can lead to 0 results. Therefore, product finder with weightedadvice is often a better option.
The biggest advantage of guided selling is that you support a customer in the process of making the right choice. By doing so, you save her time and effort. And this is extremely valuable.
In the offline world, the raison d'être of some stores for years, even decades, has been that customers are 'helped so well' there. This is of course very nice for those customers, but also has a direct impact on your business results.