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Online Consulting Software: How Does Digital Purchasing Advise Work?

21. Feb 2022 06:00 | Minimizing Returns Rate

Every online shopper wants to quickly and efficiently find a product that matches their expectations as closely as possible. Ideally in your online shop. To make this possible, you can offer your potential customers digital purchasing advice. In this article, you will leran which forms of online consulting software are available in e-commerce and which advantages they bring for you and your customers.

 

In this blog article, we will cover the following topics:

What is online consulting?

How does the digital purchasing advice differ from facet search?

What online consulting software is available?
Online consulting software with person-to-person communication
Online consulting software with AI-based tools

Why is good online consulting important in e-commerce?
A personalised online shopping experience
“Shoppers” become customers
A better user experience
Higher conversion
Higher customer satisfaction
Fewer returns

Conclusion: Online consulting software makes e-commerce more human

 

What is online consulting?

With digital purchasing advise, you enable your shop customers to receive targeted support in product selection through an interactive and personalised exchange. By asking precise questions, your customers will find the product that meets their wishes and needs more quickly.

The approach is based on the purchase advice in stationary retail. It overcomes the impersonal component of online shops and thus improves the individual user experience.

How does the digital purchasing advice differ from facet search?

With facet search, your customers can filter their search results in the online shop to see the products they are interested in. In a fashion store, they simply use the facet navigation to select the features they are looking for, such as women’s capri trousers in blue in size 40, so this tool also provides a user-friendly experience.

However, the customer should already know exactly what he wants to buy in order to be able to filter specifically. They must therefore already have an idea of important product features such as colour, material, cut or similar. However, if a customer does not yet know exactly what he wants to buy or what features his desired product should have, he needs support in form of online consulting.

Do you already use online consulting software? If so, what experience have you gained? Let us know in the comments!

What online consulting software is available?

There is a whole range of useful formats that you can use in digital purchasing advice in e-commerce. They can be integrated at different points in the customer journey. Let’s take a closer look at two categories: on the one hand, online consulting software for person-to-person communication, and on the other hand, automated tools that can respond to hundreds of customer enquiries in real time.

Online consulting software with person-to-person communication

Below we show you two examples of online consulting software that uses person-to-person communication.

 

Live chats

Live chat is a messenger tool that allows your customers to contact an employee of your online shop directly. It is usually integrated as a pop-up window on the company website and enables one-to-one communication – almost like in stationary trade.

The advantage: Your customers immediately receive personalised answers to their questions about products and processes while they are visiting your shop. A customer-oriented live chat can have a positive influence on the purchase decision, especially for complex goods that require explanation. It is also possible to offer appointments for individual purchase advice.

Screenshot of the mobilezone sales advice
Mobilezone customers can use an online form to make an appointment for advice on Internet, TV and mobile phone contracts.
(Source: Screenshot from mobilezone.ch)

Video counselling

When potential customers visit your online shop, some of them want to browse first. Their needs are not yet clearly formulated, so advice by phone, chat, or email may be insufficient.

Video consultation is one of the latest trends in the e-commerce industry.¹ Face-to-face, your customers can talk to a member of your online shop staff, ask their questions and receive personalised advice on your products and processes. For example, they can share their screen and show the sales consultant their ideas and inspirations. This makes the sales conversation even more targeted. In this way, you combine the advantages of online shopping with the special attention that customers would experience when shopping in a boutique.

With the right implementation of a video consultation in your online shop, you can provide a seamless service experience that ultimately increases customer loyalty and satisfaction. The Swiss cooperative Migros Aare has been very successful in this regard.

Online consulting software with AI-based tools

In the following, we look at two examples of online consulting software with AI-based tools.

 

AI-based chatbots

With the help of chatbots that use artificial intelligence, you can respond to hundreds of customer requests simultaneously and in real time. Depending on how the tool is programmed,

  • it recognises, for example, natural language (no pre-set questions necessary).
  • it independently generates suitable answers from text blocks and databases on your website.
  • it forwards your shop visitors to a member of staff if it can no longer help the questioner.
  • it learns independently.

In this way, various processes can be automated in a personnel-friendly way. The chatbot of the supermarket Netto Online, for example, answers questions about the online shop assortment, delivery and ordering. It also helps to find shops and provides information about current offers.

 

Guided Selling

With Guided Selling, you guide your customers optimally through the product selection process to a safe purchase decision. This is especially interesting for those potential buyers who do not have enough knowledge about the respective products to make a reliable selection.

Take a pram, for example: (Expectant) parents can simply be overwhelmed by the countless models on the market. Should it be a combination pram? With wheels for the city or for stony country lanes? How big should it be so that it fits in the car? Etc. This is where an online product advisor comes in handy. By asking specific questions, you can narrow down the choice more and more – all the way to the ideal pram. One online shop that already uses guided selling is babymarkt.de.

Screenshot of the babymarkt.de pram advisor as an example of online consulting software.
Guided selling for prams: The online product advisor of babymarkt.de guides shop visitors through the selection process. (Source: Screenshot from babymarkt.de)

This form of counselling, in which a shop customer is guided step by step through the counselling process by means of specific questions, is particularly suitable for products that require explanation and is similar to a sales talk in stationary retail. But Guided Selling can also be used for self-explanatory products by guiding customers to the appropriate product selection by selecting certain tags.

Screenshot of the Ex Libris gift finder as an example of online consulting software.
Digital purchasing advice for books: shop visitors can select different tags in the Ex Libris gift finder. (Source: Screenshot from exlibris.ch)

The special thing about Guided Selling: The results in the form of suitable products that your customer receives while clicking through the consultation process can be personalised, i.e. based on the individual clicking and buying behaviour of your customer. In this way, they not only receive products that match their desired features and requirements, but also their individual preferences.

Why is good online consulting important in e-commerce?

Customers who feel well advised are happy to come back. This is true both in stationary trade and in e-commerce. In addition, there are other reasons for using online consulting software.

A personalised online shopping experience

When potential shoppers enter a stationary shop, they can personally contact the sales advisors on site to find the right product. By integrating this service into your online shop in the form of live chats, video advice or guided selling, you provide your customers with an interactive, personalised shopping experience.

“Shoppers” become customers

Online consultation software helps you convert potential buyers into customers. In direct contact with your team, they receive answers to their questions, which can positively influence their purchase decision. For very individual products such as mattresses, an online product advisor helps shop visitors to find the one that exactly meets their needs from the wide range of models. These include degree of firmness, suitability for allergy sufferers, size, and price.

A better user experience

Your shop visitors value positive experiences throughout their entire customer journey. Professional support through digital purchasing advice gives them a secure feeling in the product selection and leads far more often to a purchase decision. In addition, online consulting software makes shopping easier: you present your customers suitable solutions, they feel understood and the positive user experience is anchored in their memory.

Higher conversion

With online consulting software, you can reduce lost sales opportunities and increase your conversions. Sometimes potential shoppers leave a shop because they didn’t find a product that was actually there. If they can easily ask a sales consultant about the product via live chat, it will improve their shopping experience.

Other potential customers have already added products to their shopping basket and abort the purchase process. One possible reason: they had a question about a process that was not answered quickly enough. With an AI-based chatbot during checkout, these questions can be solved quickly and efficiently.

Higher customer satisfaction

The personalised service of a digital purchase consultation creates an intimate atmosphere – a 1:1 exchange, as customers know it from the stationary trade. This not only strengthens potential buyers’ trust in your company, but also their satisfaction. And satisfied customers like to come back.

Fewer returns

Last but not least, digital purchasing advice in your shop reduces the risk of returns. The two most common reasons for returns are: The product did not fit or was not liked. Through personal, targeted advice, you can help your customers choose the right products. Products that match their wishes and needs as closely as possible. This reduces your costs and facilitates your returns management.

Conclusion: Online consulting software makes e-commerce more human

Digital purchasing advice is a must-have in e-commerce. It offers advantages both for you as a shop operator and for your customers. Live chats or chatbots, video advice and guided selling make it easier for potential buyers to select products and improve their user experience. In a 1:1 exchange, they receive personalised answers to their questions – the online shop becomes more human. At the same time, you benefit from higher customer loyalty and fewer returns and can thus increase your sales.

Source: ¹ imm cologne

More information on Guided Selling in the online shop →

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Sarah Birk

Online Marketing Manager - Content & SEO

Sarah works as Online Marketing Manager - Content & SEO at epoq and is responsible for the content area. Her field of activity ranges from content planning and conception to analysis and optimisation of the various content formats, taking into account important SEO aspects.

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