How much do consumers today value convenience?
The short answer is… a lot.
More than three-quarters of shoppers (76%) said convenience is their top priority when buying online. Another 78% said they value ease and convenience even more now than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, how can brands and retailers compete with companies that have built their entire business model around convenience, access, and near-instant delivery?
(In other words, how can brands and retailers today beat out Amazon?)
The answer is surprisingly simple. They need to get their shoppers to fall in love.
All You Need is Love
As a Beatles fan, I just can’t pass up an opportunity to quote them. But also, John and Paul had it right. Deep down, we need love more than we need convenience, and smart brands know this.
When a shopper falls in love with a product — when they feel like it’s really worth it — convenience becomes secondary to value.
For the hand-woven rug of her dreams, Erica from London will wait two weeks — even a month! — to receive it. For a chance to get a piece of the latest drop from his favorite brand, Sam from Los Angeles will happily sign up for pre-order.
There’s a reason why brands that identify as “slow fashion” or rely on a pre-order business model gain loyal followings, even though they aren’t the fastest. They know that real love happens when inspiration meets quality, uniqueness, and value.
Product Discovery is Where the Magic Happens
Now you’re probably asking yourself, Well, how can we make our shoppers love our products so much that they are willing to shift their priorities?
This is a great question, because realistically, most brands and retailers don’t have the inventory, warehousing, or shipping capabilities necessary to really compete with Amazon.
Here’s the answer:
Getting your shoppers to fall in love with your products begins with a product discovery experience that connects them to the right items, sparks inspiration, and makes them motivated to buy.
The goal is to seamlessly and effortlessly connect each individual shopper to the items that make them think, “I love it!!!! IT MUST BE MINE!!”
When the love is that deep, you’ve won.
5 Ways to Boost Product Discovery and Inspiration
Here are five tips to consider when refining the product discovery experience to help each shopper get inspired and fall in love.
1. Focus on visual content
Inspiring shoppers with visual content is vital to generating that head-over-heels, nothing-will-stop-me-from-buying-this mode. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to do this.
Every image on your site has the potential to spark true love. For example, you can feature your latest seasonal collection or most popular products on your home page to capture shoppers’ attention right away. If a shopper has purchased from you in the past, even better. You can use historical data and in-session cues to display items that reflect their unique taste and style.
Another effective strategy is inspiration boards. With an aesthetically curated array of product images (branded or user-generated), you can create the potential to inspire shoppers from a quick glance and initiate the discovery process with just a click.
2. Create an immersive universe
The next step beyond a highly visual website is one that allows your shoppers to immerse themselves in their own little world. Think about a furniture company selling coffee tables online. Now imagine that coffee table within a 360-degree image of a room decorated with boho minimalist vibes — and every piece of furniture and knick-knack in the themed room has been made clickable, searchable, and shoppable.
Shop the Room and Shop the Look experiences like these allow your website visitors to get a big picture view of the lifestyle surrounding each item they love. This not only helps increase average order value, but it also deepens the emotional bond shoppers feel for your products, allowing them to see each item in a context that inspires them.
3. Seize the momentum of prior inspiration
As we all know, the web, social media, and of course real life is chock-full of inspiration. Shoppers who find inspiration elsewhere might turn to your website to find the product (or a similar one) they have their sights set on.
One of the best ways to seize this inspiration is to shorten the path to discovery with visual search. By allowing shoppers to simply upload an image of the product they’ve fallen in love with, you can bypass all of the text searching and scrolling that’s usually involved in finding the right item. Instead, they’ll instantly see your visually similar products.
Visual search can turn “love at first sight” moments into a reality, plus it helps ensure the shopper’s motivation remain high, preventing a long, friction-filled search process.
4. Context matters when it comes to product discovery
Understanding a shopper’s current context and keeping up with their shifting goals and preferences in real-time is fundamental to driving them to the products that will make them fall in love.
Unfortunately, most eCommerce websites aren’t equipped to interpret shoppers’ contexts — not really.
They can register the category a shopper is browsing (say, jean shorts), but they won’t necessarily “understand” when a shopper has moved on to cocktail dresses. Or, they place a disproportionate focus on demographic information and overlook crucial indicators about what the shopper actually wants in the moment. (After all, a 75-year-old woman could be shopping for her 15-year-old grandson.) As a result, “personalized” recommendations end up completely missing the mark.
On the other hand, technologies like visual AI give you a deeper understanding of product details, which are then used to deduce a shopper’s intentions and goals as they evolve in real-time.
Unlike conventional personalization engines, visual AI actually learns about every individual shopper’s unique style and taste by analyzing the visual attributes of the items they interact with. This insight — which becomes sharper and more on-point over time — functions like a personal shopping assistant who understands exactly what their customer is looking for. By understanding shoppers’ contexts, you can introduce them to the SKUs that are their perfect “match.”
5. Build continuous inspiration
We said love rules, but don’t forget you can fall in love more than once. Getting your shoppers to fall in love with (and purchase) multiple items is the ideal. To achieve this, you need to keep inspiring your shoppers at every step of their journey.
For example, imagine a shopper comes to the homepage of your furniture store, and clicks on the category “sofas.” From there, she sets a few filters for the price range, color, and material — and then she sees it: the perfect mauve velvet sectional. It’s a match. She adds the sofa to her cart, but her session doesn’t need to end there.
By adding capabilities like a “You May Also Like” carousel, you can introduce the shopper to more products that complement the sofa (such as throw pillows, rugs, blankets, coffee tables, etc.) based on their visual attributes as well as other criteria the shopper indicated, like price range. Tools like this offer endless possibilities for inspiration, love, and more “add-to-cart” moments.
Competing in a saturated eCommerce landscape is already hard. When you’re going up against a goliath like Amazon, competing based on traits like convenience and price might be impossible. But by focusing on real inspiration, personalization, and quality, you can be sure shoppers’ love interests are stronger than their need for speed.
The main thing to remember is that shoppers can only fall in love with your products if you show them the right items at the right times. Having the ability to understand what your shoppers like, what their style preferences are, and what they need in the moment, you’ll have what it takes to introduce them to their perfect match.