The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a tailwind for eCommerce. eCommerce in the US grew 44% in 2020, the highest annual growth experienced in the last two decades. The pandemic influenced the buying habits of even the baby boomers forcing them to move online to fulfill their shopping needs.
More businesses today are joining the eCommerce revolution and those that had embarked on this journey early are now readying themselves for eCommerce expansion. Despite global economic uncertainty, reports forecast that the global eCommerce market will stand at 6.5 trillion USD in 2022.
Over time, organizations embarking on their eCommerce journey understand that all eCommerce activities must keep the customer at the center. As such having robust customer analytics capabilities to get a 360-degree customer view to understand the buyer completely is now mandatory. Along with having strong customer analytics capabilities, organizations have to drive elevated eCommerce experiences that ensure higher sales and lower cart abandonment rates.
Product Experience can play a valuable role here.
The importance of Product Experience
Product Experience is extremely essential for digital success in today’s age especially as the portfolio of products in eCommerce expands rapidly. Imagine a frustrating search experience where it takes the buyer an inordinate amount of time to look for what she is searching for. Or imagine a buyer identifies the product that she needs but does not get adequate information about it to address her queries. If the buyer has to leave the eCommerce site to look for any information regarding the product, the Product Experience is guaranteed to fail.
Research supports the fact that 63% of buyers take their search to other websites if they are unable to find the right product. 55% of buyers take their business elsewhere in the absence of sufficient product information.
Now imagine a buyer landing on an eCommerce site that is optimized with complete product information, videos, product details, and an intuitive search. Which website will experience a conversion? Clearly, the one that provides all the relevant information, isn’t it?
So, what is Product Experience?
Product Experience is the sum of all interactions that take place related to the product on a given eCommerce website. Given the scope, Product Experience is a valuable cog in the wheel that drives eCommerce sales. To help customers choose one product over the other, organizations need to ensure that not only do they have a great product portfolio but that the Product Experience is seamless, simple, informative, and enjoyable.
Product Experience becomes an essential element of focus also because today we are deep into the Age of the Customer. The customers of today are informed buyers who employ powerful tools to research, identify, and evaluate different products before they make the final purchasing decision. The buyer demographic has also changed. Millennials and Gen Z have taken over from the baby boomers. These generations are used to elevated digital experiences having grown up in a technological world. As such, sub-par Product Experiences are unlikely to drive sales.
How to focus on Product Experience?
The start of a great Product Experience is insightful customer analytics that provides detailed information on customer needs, preferences, buying behaviors, etc. Based on these insights, organizations can build product feature roadmaps and even benchmark competitive positioning. This apart, here are a few other elements to focus on to deliver elevated Product Experiences.
Product Information Management
Product Information Management or PIM is now essential for eCommerce success. Given the expanding and ever-increasing product portfolios, eCommerce sales are directly proportional to the product information available.
Incomplete product information is unacceptable in this digital world as it breeds a lack of trust. Inadequate product information, missing data, inconsistent data values, lack of images and videos all create doubt in the mind of the buyer. Since online interactions have now matured, these are all seen as warning signs that scream that the product is not to be trusted.
Having robust PIM capabilities makes sure that the product information is complete, organized, enriched, and adequately categorized and makes sure that it helps the buyer move further in the buying journey.
Easy browse and Directed Search
The Product Experience test starts from the time a buyer lands on the eCommerce site. The ease with which they can browse and search for the products they need impacts the Product Experience and consequently influences buying decisions.
An optimal search and browsing experience would be one where the customer gets all information in an easy-to-consume and intuitive format at exactly the right stage in the buyer journey. For this, it is important to enrich and optimize product data, fine-tune product attribution and product families, and have strong governance around product data to manage it easily.
In the case of complex products, this becomes an even more critical attention point. It is essential to build a powerful directed search engine that guides customers and provides the product information they want.
Doing this helps in delivering an elevated and consistent experience that helps customers move along the buying journey.
Workflows that aid Product Experience
Old, dated, and poor information is worse than no information in today’s digital world. As such, along with making sure that product information is complete, it is equally important to make sure that this information is current.
Managing product catalogs optimally and ensuring that the product catalog can also change easily to accommodate these shifts contribute towards elevated Product Experiences. Gaining deep insights into customer preferences and how these preferences are evolving becomes essential to remain relevant.
Collaboration capabilities to drive changes to taxonomy, schema, and item attributes easily and also view these changes to accept, reject or abort them become helpful in managing product information optimally. It is also essential to view the products as the customer would see them on the website and have the right workflows and processes in place to edit data values directly to create Product Experiences that the customers want.
Validation (failure) management
To improve Product Experience, organizations need insights into the efficacy and points of failure of their current product catalogs. Getting detailed information on issues that plague the product catalog to prioritize and streamline improvement opportunities and approach them in an organized and effective manner is essential to better Product Experience. With these insights, organizations can streamline work in the most efficient manner such that the Product Experience does not get tarnished at any given point.
Product Experience can also be improved by getting insights into the kind of information the customers want, the insights they seek, the details they need. Such information can be gleaned from detailed quality metrics reports that focus on taxonomy, schema, and items to provide a refined view of the product catalog and help organizations take qualitative actions to improve data quality to drive Product Experience.
Anything – As – A – Service (XAAS)
On-boarding new products in a fast-paced eCommerce environment is another critical point that impacts Product Experience. Organizations need to develop the capabilities and workflows to onboard new products fast, easily, and judiciously.
However, to create a differentiated Product Experience, it is equally important to evaluate how to expand the existing product catalogs to drive sales. Technologies such as AI are invaluable here as they can help organizations develop new product categories and their attributes faster. By employing taxonomy & schemas best practices organizations can expand product categories and offer them through their eCommerce websites and drive superior Product Experiences.
With the commoditization of goods and services, organizations have to identify ways and means to provide a differentiated experience. With more than 72% of buyers looking to increase their online spending, it is time to ensure that every product touchpoint is suitably optimized and contributes to building trust. This becomes an important consideration point, especially, when more than 84% of online buyers make repeat purchases online. eCommerce sites thus have to ensure that they enhance their Product Experience to make it more intuitive and holistic and thereby drive sales.