chatbot, AI, ML, online

Too much of a good thing? Choice paralysis rises with deeper incisions into the e-commerce landscape, and even choosy customers seek out more help.

“Choice overload or paralysis is what happens when a consumer is faced with more shopping possibilities than they can clearly or easily comprehend, often clouding their purchase confidence and decision-making abilities,” said Sarah Assous, senior vice president of Zoovu, an AI-powered chatbot marketing solution.

“Almost 70 percent of online carts are abandoned before making a purchase because it’s just too difficult to find the right product,” Assous said.

An upper hand in the digital marketplace is becoming harder to attain when the brand seeks to offer its customer a world of inventory, and the customer gets paralyzed by choice. To the detriment of the former, abandoned carts mean reduced sales and increased challenges in retaining customers. But there are technologies that can help guide shoppers, and trigger conversions.

Citing impatience and frustration, Assous said “it is evident that there is a disconnect between the brand and the consumer.” On the other side of this dynamic, retailers and brands are also paralyzed by choice. The decision to switch to artificial intelligence and machine learning is one that marks an entire cultural transformation: one that welcomes innovation in its DNA.

“Although the transition to adopting various technologies like AI and machine learning to better personalize and streamline the path-to-purchase is a slow process, brands do understand that they need to make a change,” said Assous, who champions the importance of chatbots in improving customer support and guiding purchases.

Those like Assous point to technology, be it at the forefront of the customer journey, or the backlog of logistical and manufacturing solutions, as integral to lifting the apparel industry from its laurels. “Chatbots can be leveraged in a variety of ways, but most retailers utilize the technology to engage with consumers, offering 24-7 customer service,” said Assous.

The value is in offering a streamlined shopping experience, as well as personalized guidance for customers. Amazon demonstrates similar utility in leveraging Alexa, a voice e-commerce solution. Assous said this adoption means that “shoppers are becoming increasingly more comfortable with interacting through voice.”

As for differentiating oneself from competitors, Assous said the differentiator is a “personal, relevant and convenient” shopping experience. “Knowing their customers, asking the right questions and caring enough to provide an engaging, relevant experience is what will set them apart.”

There’s more to the puzzle, though.

“Many brands are so hyper-focused on their own products and ROI goals that they often fall short of meeting customers’ baseline expectations,” said Assous.

She listed the following: “An easy path-to-purchase; relevant, personalized product recommendations; real-time customer support; brand authenticity,” as key components for brands to consider.

And in the health and beauty categories, brands are aiming to re-create the in-store experience without losing the high-touch and heartened hand of a beauty specialist. Offering recommendations based on customer questions, digital assistants store data from interactions, building personal shoppers for better long-term engagement.

“Retailers should closely evaluate which technologies make the most sense for their specific product set, goals and target audience, and leveragie them accordingly. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach will be their downfall,” reiterated Assous.