Guided Selling in the Top 10 Industries: How Leading Online Players Tackle Choice Overload




  • March 29, 2016

    In a world full of choice and ​choice overload​, consumers need guidance in deciding what to buy.


    If you want to get them off the fence, and to the checkout, you need a way to intelligently reduce the choices they’re exposed to. As with everything online, this method needs to be engaging or else you’re going to lose their attention.
    Simply put, what you need are more ​engaging product advisor tools​. For example, an interactive product advisor aims to replicate what any good salesperson in a store would do:



    They put the users needs first, instead of pushing technical product features that may only confuse the user by asking a series of need‐oriented questions to understand what the user really wants and needs, the solution is then able to suggest a list of relevant products based on the answers given.


    Here is ​how players from the top 10 different industries use interactive product advisors to tackle choice overload​ and improve shopper satisfaction.


    1. Automotive

    There are very few decisions bigger than purchasing a car. Alongside buying your own house, a car is a pinnacle part of the average person’s life. With it being such an important decision, many buyers are very hesitant to make it.


    Without guidance or expert knowledge, it’s unlikely that the average consumer will commit to purchase. Which is why you often see salesmen trying so hard on the car lot. VW is aware of this and has created an electronic salesperson to guide shoppers through to a decision.


    Their car finder​ walks the user through every available configuration option of their potential car.​


    All the user needs is a basic understanding of what they like and look for. Based on this information the interactive car finder presents the users with the most relevant car models to their specified criteria.


    VW car finder

    VW’s car finder​ walks the user through every available configuration option of their potential car.


    2. Photography

    Canon has a diverse audience. Some are professional photographers, others just want a basic camera to take family pictures. With Canon trying to appeal to such a vast demographic of users, there’s a necessity to guide the user through the camera selection process in many cases.


    Canon’s camera selector asks the user a couple of need‐oriented questions to understand how​ and what kind of situations they want to use the camera in before suggesting a suitable product. As opposed to overwhelming users with technical features.


    In doing so, Canon educates potential buyers and strengthens their brand recognition. Not only do customers get the best camera for their needs, but they learn how and why it is the best. It really is a win‐win situation.


    Canon camera selector

    Canon’s camera selector asks the user a couple of need‐oriented questions to understand how​ and what kind of situations they want to use the camera in before suggesting a suitable product.


    3. Consumer electronics

    Despite how vastly crucial mobile phones are to modern society, most people don’t know what they’re looking for in a phone. Technical specifications read like a foreign language to them, and they have little patience for trying to figure out whether or not it’ll work for them.


    That’s why every phone company should aim at selling benefits, not mere features. Google’s innovative minds streamlined this process. They made a list of the most common ways phones are used, let their users pick from it and dynamically display matching phones in an ​interactive mobile advisor​.


    Their product advisor is not only entertaining, but it’s really easy to use, too.


    Android – Which Phone

    Google’s made a list of the most common ways phones are used, let their users pick from it and dynamically display matching phones in an ​interactive mobile advisor​.


    4. Telecommunications

    Even for experienced users, picking the right mobile and data plan is a complex decision to make. That’s why many people seldomly switch plans or providers, even if others appeared more beneficial. Alternatively, they opt to consult an assistant in a store or over the phone for advice.


    Either way, not only do these present telecommunication providers with high service costs, but it also makes choosing a lot less easy for the user. This creates a far greater risk of a dissatisfied customer base, because, quite obviously, users aren’t entirely sure what they’re getting!


    Swisscom overcame this issue by implementing a ​virtual tariff advisor​. By answering a few questions circling around the user’s needed tariff benefits, such as preference and expected phone usage, the user gets a tariff catered specifically to their needs.


    This reduces choice overload. Makes benefits clear and easy to understand, which drives customer satisfaction up. As well as educating the customer base overall.


    Swisscom mobile plan advisor

    Swisscom’s ​virtual tariff advisor​ ask a few questions circling around the user’s needed tariff benefits, such as preference and expected phone usage, the user gets a tariff catered specifically to their needs.


    5. Furniture

    Imagine your dream kitchen. Tough, right? There’s no doubt that some users have an idea in mind. However, having the entirety of the specifics planned out, to the point where they’re ready to purchase, is unlikely. Unless they’re a chef or some kitchen fanatic.


    Introducing Obi’s kitchen product advisor​. This advisor walks the user through a series of​ questions pertaining to their desired kitchen design. After establishing a layout, countertop material and any other extra features, the advisor then presents the user with the most relevant kitchens they have.


    One of the best features of Obi’s kitchen advisor is the dynamic updating of the relevant kitchen results. Meaning the customer can opt‐out of the advisor process early, if they find a kitchen they like at any stage along the process. (A real customer pleaser!)


    Obi kitchen product finder

    Obi’s kitchen product advisor​ walks the user through a series of​ questions pertaining to their desired kitchen design.


    6. Apparel

    Buying clothing online is often a worrying prospect. The common questions of the customer are along the lines of, “will it fit?” and “will it suit my build?” Seeing as they can’t try it on, you need to ensure these worries are addressed for customers to purchase.


    So jeans have a quick and easy jeans advisor​ to fix these worries. They advertise it as “4 easy clicks for the perfect jeans for you.” Which is about right. It asks the user’s gender, weight, height, preferred style and the shoes you’ll be wearing them with. Then displays the perfect pair of jeans.


    This advisor is really simple and easy to follow, and inevitably will lead to more purchases due to it.


    SoJeans jeans advisor

    So jeans have a quick and easy jeans advisor​. It asks the user’s gender, weight, height, preferred style and the shoes you’ll be wearing them with.


    7. Cosmetics

    Hair is very unique. Each colour, texture, volume and style needs a different kind of product to treat it. Sure, you can buy general products that not optimised for your hair features, but that’s not what John Frieda’s customers are looking for.


    If you’re going to a specialised company for your haircare needs, you want to ensure that it’s the best for your hair type. Especially with the product line being so extensive. John Frieda​ asks​ customers about their hair type and hair concerns. Then recommends the perfect product for them.


    Taking the guesswork out of a product like this, considering how important hair is to the people that’ll buy from John Frieda, is absolutely necessary for customer satisfaction. John Frieda has produced a very effective example of an interactive product advisor with this tool.


    Frieda hair product advisor

    John Frieda​ asks​ customers about their hair type and hair concerns. Then recommends the perfect product for them.


    8. Children and Baby Products

    Not all strollers are made with the same function in mind.


    Picking the right stroller, from the vast amount of models available, can easily overwhelm expecting parents. Pish Posh Baby know this. They want their customers to get the most appropriate stroller for their needs. Function, the amount of seats and age of children are all a factor.


    With ​Pish Posh Baby’s stroller advisor​, it takes only a few clicks to get the most appropriate stroller for the user’s needs. Overall, the process takes less than a minute and will clearly drive customer satisfaction way up!


    PishPoshBaby Stroller Finder

    Pish Posh Baby’s stroller advisor​ takes only a few clicks to get the most appropriate stroller for the user’s needs.


    9. Pets

    Dog Time wants to help people to choose the dog breed that’ll suit their lifestyle. So they designed a dog breed selector​ that determines the personality of the dog owner, the personality and size of​ the dog desired, and suggests the best match with these aspects in mind.


    This is more of a 20 question quiz rather than a product advisor. It’s a bit longer and takes a fair bit more commitment than average. However, put simply, choosing a dog is a larger commitment than most things. So the advisor clearly reflects the commitment required for adopting or buying a dog.


    Dogtime dog breed advisor

    Dog Time’s dog breed selector​ determines the personality of the dog owner, the personality and size of​ the dog desired, and suggests the best match with these aspects in mind.


    10. Foods

    Choosing wine can be difficult. There are so many types, brands and vintages of wine that it’s hard to know where to begin. How can you possibly know what you’ll enjoy until you’ve already tried​ it?


    Weinvorteil’s wine consultant seems to have solution to this problem. Their Wine Consultant​ helps users select a wine based on tastes they like, certain occasions, and within a specified price range. Once user’s current preferences are determined, they get a number of proposals reflecting their individual needs.


    This is obviously a great tool for any wine producer. With tastes varying so dramatically from person to person, ensuring that everyone gets something they enjoy on a certain occasion will do wonders for purchasing and customer satisfaction as a whole.


    Weinvorteil Wine consultant

    Weinvorteil’s Wine Consultant​ helps users select a wine based on tastes they like, certain occasions, and within a specified price range.


    What do you do currently to alleviate the effects of choice overload?

    It might be time to consider how you can also implement an engaging product advisor to narrow down your customer’s choices. The online user is constantly bombarded by choice. Make it easier for them, if you want them to buy.


    Begin by thinking about your customer’s needs, correlate them with the technical information and think of how you can provide these choices in an interactive manner.


    There’s just one question remaining, are you going to follow through?


    To see more examples of product advisors created using SMARTASSISTANT’s Guided Selling examples.


    If you have any questions or have seen other great examples for online product advisors, then write your comments below!

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