It’s no secret that SXSW PanelPicker 2016 has overtaken the lives of many techies in town, and we’re in there with the best of ‘em! Edgecase is teaming up with Crate & Barrel, Urban Decay and Retail TouchPoints to bring SXSW attendees a session on the power of human+machine curation in retail ecommerce – and we need your votes! Our panel is vying for a spot in the Interactive conference’s final program, so if you’re interested in hearing from some of the retailers and brands that are pioneering this adaptive tech innovation, we’d appreciate your votes and comments on our panel page, found here.
Personal stylists, personal assistants, personal trainers. All of these handy aides help the average person bring unique enhancements to their lives, and human+machine ecommerce curation is no different. We’re all familiar with the powerful recommendation technology behind Netflix and Pandora that takes the tedious out of finding a new TV series or station – and now it’s retail’s time to shine in the personalization spotlight. Savvy online retailers have realized the power of human curation, married with machine learning, to make shopping online more like shopping in the real world – personal, exciting, and fun.
For those of us with school-aged kids, it’s hard to believe that the back-to-school season is almost upon us. Soon, parents will begin making school supply lists and shaking their heads in disbelief over how quickly their kids have outgrown last year’s jeans and football cleats.
According to a new survey recently published by Consumer Pulse from Rubicon Project, 56% of respondents (parents with children in grades K-12 and college) plan to spend more money per child than they did last year to prepare students for the upcoming school year. The survey showed that K-12 parents plan to spend an average of $873 per student, while parents of college-age students plan to spend more than $1,100 per student. As well, 23% of parents have already started their shopping and are planning for ongoing purchases throughout the summer.
For retailers, this is all great news. But the key question becomes, are retailers ready to meet the needs of back-to-school shoppers in all retail touch points? In 2014, a survey by Retale showed that 73% of parents used mobile to purchase back-to-school items across every facet of the retail process.
A big (and growing) vital component of that process is mobile search.
Our team was extremely excited to see recent research published by Christian Holst at the Baymard Institute benchmarking top ecommerce sites’ on-site filter capabilities. In short, they are “passable, at best”. Holst said, “when it comes to filtering, the majority of even the top ecommerce websites come up short compared to physical retail, where a customer’s request such as ‘a light casual spring jacket in size medium’ or ‘a rugged case for this digital camera’ isn’t out of the ordinary.” How many ecommerce sites do you know that allow you to shop that way?
Baymard’s research was conducted with a large-scale end user usability test and the benchmarking of 50 U.S. retail websites across 93 guidelines. Here are some of the findings that both interested and surprised us…
Things you would never want said about your website shopping experience:
These are direct quotes taken from real shoppers included in a recent study from Christian Holst, co-founder of the Baymard Institute, on the state of online product filtering and discovery.
The study reveals that only 16% of major, multi-million dollar ecommerce sites offer a reasonably good filtering experience. In an era where the shopper gets what the shopper wants, this should be a wake-up call to retailers that this vital part of the consumer shopping experience is not where it needs to be.
The unfortunate situation is that many of these great retailers have all the right products, but under-optimized ways for shoppers to navigate their inventory in an easy and inspiring way.
We were excited to have the opportunity to ask Christian for some additional insights on his ecommerce filtering research, and he’s got some valuable nuggets of advice that could help transform the online shopping experience retailers present to their shoppers!
In the early 1900s Harry Gordon Selfridge, the iconic American-born turned British retail magnate, opened the doors to his London-based department store, Selfridges, and forever changed the way the world viewed retail. A man ahead of his time, Selfridge believed that shopping should be entertaining, experiential, and complemented by exceptional customer service. At the time, the known “rule” amongst shopkeepers in London was that a customer needed to know exactly what they wanted before they entered the store. The concept of browsing and “I’m just looking” was simply not acceptable. Selfridge changed all that when he opened the doors to Selfridges more than 100 years ago. He knew even then that shopping is at its essence a “discovery” experience and that customers should have the freedom of visual discovery—especially when they are not sure exactly what they want.
When you think about the type of shopping you do the most, for most people, it’s clothing. Children overhaul their wardrobes at the beginning of each school year, seasonal changes spark the urge to update sweaters and swim suits, and the fashion-forward chase the latest style trends as soon as they’re available. Apparel is certainly the largest (~20%) and greatest revenue generating retail vertical today, especially in ecommerce. “Companies that generate the largest portion of their sales from online are apparel stores,” says Poonam Goyal, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “Their online sales are often more than 15 percent of their total sales, so the potential there is enormous.”
For a vertical with such massive industry impact on retail revenue figures, apparel has surprisingly underwhelmed shoppers when it comes to progressive ecommerce filtering logic and innovations that meet consumer expectations. In a recent Facebook poll, we asked shoppers to describe a pair of apparel items in their own words, in the hopes we could compare an enterprise’s typical merchandising standards to how shoppers really think and feel about the clothing they are searching for. On products with an average of 5 filter options from their ecommerce hosts, shoppers surveyed provided a staggering 75 new attributes! That’s a 1400% increase in the number of terms used to describe a product, versus what retailers are actually using on their site. Retailers are missing out on enormous merchandising attribution opportunities, as well as the ability to better connect their shoppers with the best product for them.
Christian Holst, co-founder of Baymard Institute, recently benchmarked the 50 top-grossing US ecommerce websites across 93 product list guidelines, analyzing 1,750 performance scores specific to filtering availability, logic and interfaces. According to the report, a massive 42% of top ecommerce websites lack category-specific filtering types for several of their core product verticals, and an unimpressive 16% of websites provide a good filtering experience for shoppers, yet even those could still use refinement. For shoppers, that reads: a really difficult, frustrating and inconclusive product discovery experience on almost every ecommerce site you’re likely to visit.