Peter Messana is CEO of Searchspring.
If you’re old enough to remember life before streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, you remember subscribing to TV Guide, a small magazine containing a directory of TV channels and showtimes.
These days, all we need to do is sign up for our favorite on-demand streaming service, and we can binge every season of our favorite TV show on a weekend. The streaming service even suggests TV shows for our next binge based on what we previously watched. Now we control what we watch and when we watch it. This is a prime example of modern consumption.
Modern consumers and shoppers want a simple, personalized experience. Whether it’s television, movies, music or shopping, consumers expect companies to understand and anticipate their wants and needs and expect the process to be as simple as possible. That’s what brings us to the Four Pillars of Modern Consumption.
1. Easy To Find
By having a more robust search feature on e-commerce sites, search relevancy is improved and helps shoppers find what they’re looking to buy. Easy-to-use search solves the problem of having users type the items they’re looking for — in their own words — and not serving up the results they expect.
When we’re on Spotify and want to listen to something, we search for an artist’s name, album name, a theme — whatever we want. What comes up are playlists, albums, artists, bands, etc., that match that search query. This gives customers exactly what they want quickly and easily.
There are several ways to improve search relevance on your site. Start by improving your data feed structure by checking for errors. Beyond that, you’ll want to normalize and optimize your data to account for searches that include misspellings, synonyms and abbreviations.
2. Organized Better
Being better-organized means having full control of what’s displayed throughout a customer’s journey during online shopping. Organization solves the problem of serving up incorrect content based on what users are searching for. When a user types the word “pink,” pink items should show up in the results.
Pillars one and two are the chicken and egg of the modern consumption world. We can’t have one without the other. Pillar two gives websites full control of the search automation features so we can help customers find what they’re looking to buy.
To achieve the best merchandising results, start by grouping related and similar products together.
3. Personalized Experiences
Serving up a customer’s personalized experience is only possible when there’s a flexible backend engine that does the heavy lifting. It uses shoppers’ behavior to provide a truly personalized experience. Personalization solves the problem of serving up bland, generic content to users who expect a nearly custom, bespoke experience on a site.
Take Netflix, for example. We all pay the same for our accounts, but our home pages look different. Why? Because Netflix’s backend engine has tracked programs we’ve watched and compiled a list of similar programming they think we’ll like. That’s a personalized experience.
Your e-commerce site is no different. Personalize a customer’s experience by featuring sale items, best sellers and trending items and by rotating out products frequently so customers always see something new. You can also use insights to learn about your customers’ behavior to provide a unique experience through product recommendations. These recommendations can also be used in email campaigns and retargeting.
4. Fueled By Insights
Like all machine learning, an e-commerce engine gets smarter over time by collecting shopper behavior data. The personalized experiences it’s serving up are fueled by insights that help you stay ahead of trends before they even start.
Insights solve the problem of making blind changes. Using data enables businesses to understand user behavior and change their site to meet that behavior.
The more true crime documentaries you watch or podcasts you listen to, the more the AI at Netflix and Spotify know to make recommendations for more of the same kind of content.
There are three main types of insights that can help your site convert better: search, product and Google Analytics.
Search insights help you learn critical details about search trends such as the products people are looking for, which terms are performing and how much revenue is generated by a particular query.
Product insights analyze the performance of products including which have the most views, which bring in the most revenue and which items aren’t converting.
Google Analytics insights provide key information about how shoppers browse and buy. You can learn which type of visitor generates the most revenue, which type converts and more.
Solving Problems Before They Happen
Instead of being reactive to problems and using Band-Aid solutions to fix them, start proactively solving issues. Because Band-Aid solutions are just that — a temporary fix to potentially long-term issues that end up creating more manual labor, impose limitations and are frustrating for those managing the systems.
It’s worth noting that all these problems aren’t just frustrating for businesses — they’re also frustrating for shoppers. This leads to “Look and Leave Syndrome,” which is when a customer is so frustrated they leave the website and never come back.
E-commerce sites have a 2 to 3% conversion rate on the first visit. Realistically, no site will ever convert 100% on the first visit, but what if we’re able to increase that number by just one or two points? If shoppers are frustrated, they bounce, and we end up losing their entire lifetime value.
It’s All About Personalized Experiences
The most successful e-commerce brands have one thing in common: They put the shoppers’ experience first. They make it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for and provide specific recommendations that are relevant to them.
By thinking about the four pillars and how they impact customers’ overall experience, e-commerce sites start to see growth happen. That’s when we see conversion rates increase.