We can really help you! Curated shopping helps in the decision-making process

The decision to make a purchase is often preceded by inspiration, information gathering and evaluation of the options. The more complex and in need of explanation the product, and the greater the emotional involvement of the customer, the more intensive this process is and the more likely a customer is to need assistance. Companies in bricks & mortar businesses that use the quality of their assistance to differentiate themselves from their competitors often ask themselves: “How can I accompany my customer online on their customer journey?”

We use the term curated shopping to refer to virtual personal shopping assistants that support the customer in the evaluation and decision-making phases. In principle, curated shopping approaches are differentiated based on three factors (see Figure 1):

  • Who is the expert? The provider itself can operate as an assistant, or let the community speak for it and its products. For example, the provider can offer product information such as photos and videos to aid the decision-making process. Social recommendations are application cases of community-driven assistance.
  • What is the focus of the assistance? The assistance can focus on the functions of the product or on how the customer is expected to use it. Smart filters based on colour selection, size, etc, are typical examples of product-oriented information. In contrast, augmented reality applications, such as the virtual fitting room, put the product into the actual use context for the customer and help them make a decision as to whether the product is suitable.
  • How is the assistance given? Assistance can be provided automatically, e.g. via a standardised questionnaire, or personally, where the customer’s individuality is taken into account; for example, live video assistance.

1    Key questions on the way to the right virtual shopping assistant

A look at the online world (see our examples at the end of this article) reveals a huge variety of possible shopping assistants. How do you find the right approach for your situation? The specific circumstances of your company, your products and your customers have a significant influence on the structure of the right curated shopping approach for you.

Your company

  • What are your differentiating factors and core values and how do you want to be perceived as a company by your customers? If you differentiate yourself from the competition through the quality of the assistance you provide, curated shopping approaches are essential to prevent the customer feeling abandoned when they are online in front of a screen.
  • What touchpoints do you offer your customer? Assign specific core tasks to each touchpoint on the customer journey and connect the channels so that the customer can switch seamlessly between them.

Your products

  • How is your product range structured (depth and width)? The larger your product range, the more important filter functions are to enable the customer to get to the right product.
  • To what extent do your products require explanation? The more complex the product, the greater the customer’s need for assistance and explanation.

Your customers

  • How great is the emotional involvement of your customers in your products? The greater the emotional involvement, the more active and complex the decision-making process. The customer is looking for the right product and therefore shopping assistants who put the product into its actual context are particularly helpful.
  • What does the customer journey look like and how do customers communicate with you in the course of this journey?

These key questions will help you find your way to the shopping assistant that suits your business. Virtual shopping assistants benefit not only the customer in that what they buy is much more likely to fulfil their expectations, but also the company. Customers feel understood and appreciated, and are more satisfied with their selection. This also has a positive effect on the proportion of returns: curated shopping reduces the risk of bad buys and heightens the emotional shopping experience.

We’ve compiled a selection of curated shopping approaches to inspire you and highlight the wide range of options:

In addition to Look Books, created by experts, the Look Creator from PKZ enables the customer to put together individual, personal looks and see how the clothes match. In this way, PKZ provides an inspiring shopping experience.

Expert: provider
Focus: product
Type: automatic
Video tutorial:
www.youtube.com - MY LOOK CREATOR

Glasses change a person’s character – WearLite knows this, which is why it offers its customers a virtual try-on for their glasses. The customer is able to find the frame shape and colour that really suits them.

Expert: provider
Focus: use
Type: automatic
www.wearlite.ch - virtual-try-on

Outfittery appeals to men who don’t like to shop. After a quick style check, the customer has a phone conversation with a style assistant that he has chosen himself. He then receives a box containing two complete outfits. He keeps and pays for whatever he likes. Subsequently, the customer receives regular suggestions online.

Expert: provider
Focus: use
Type: hybrid
www.outfittery.ch

The iFoscarini app enables design enthusiasts to virtually position Foscarini lights in rooms and spaces, enabling them to visualise the lights and their effect in their own home.

Expert: provider
Focus: use
Type: automatic
www.foscarini.ch

The Risch custom shoe concept combines traditional shoe craftsmanship with state-of-the-art 3D digital technology. This creates a unique advantage: “Scan your feet once – order custom-made shoes for the rest of your life.” This innovative, smart solution guarantees a perfect fit despite shopping online.

Expert: provider
Focus: use
Type: hybrid
www.risch-shoes.com

Expertise at the point of sale is the central topic in the sales division at Jura, says General Manager Emanuel Probst. With the live video sales assistance, the company has developed a concept to ensure quality assistance online. With one mouse click, coffee-lovers can reach an assistant in the online studio and receive a demonstration of the product range.

Expert: provider
Focus: product
Type: personal
ch.jura.com - live-video-verkaufsberatung

Guitar-lovers will get their money’s worth at thomann.de. Thomann has recorded sound samples in various musical genres for many of its guitars and basses. Now prospective customers can not only see the guitar, the important criterion of how it sounds can also be taken into account.

Expert: provider
Focus: product
Type: automatic
www.thomann.de

Spiele-offensive.de has taken up the challenge of providing access to the huge range of games on the market. Alongside video tutorials and a smart game finder, spiele-offensive.de incorporates social recommendations that lead the enthusiast to a suitable game. As well as Facebook likes, detailed customer reviews of individual games are also displayed.

Expert: hybrid
Focus: hybrid
Type: automatic
www.spiele-offensive.de

Fancy combines the ‘collective’ tracking down of interesting products by the community with personal recommendations. The result is a personal shopping magazine.

Expert: community
Focus: product
Type: automatic
www.fancy.com

Do you have other exciting examples of virtual shopping assistants? Write to us using the comment function and we’ll be glad to add them to our list.
The virtual personal shopping assistant supports the customer in the evaluation and decision-making processes. Curated shopping has various approaches.

2017 – Trends, business cases and strategic steps

Customer expectations are higher than ever before: In the course of purchase decisions, the experience factor is becoming more important than the price or specific product characteristics (Customer 2020, Walker). Therefore, we are convinced that in 2017, in order to increase commitment to their brand, companies will have to take a closer look at how they inspire their customers in the digital world.