To introduce myself, my Name is Amrith Srinivasan and I work at Groupby as their Product Designer. My day to day job consists of assisting engineers and product owners with research and designs to fulfill the roadmap. It has been a whirlwind of a journey, to say the least. Primarily because I learned all this by myself and took the hardest route - trial and error while working freelance gigs in my room. The real world is rather different unfortunately so in my opinion, there are five things to keep in mind when making the transition.
Comfort zones are dangerous
When we work by ourselves in a room, there is a certain level of comfort we get accustomed to and take it from me that can get very dangerous. If you get used to working in solitude you will find it very hard to work effectively with a team of different disciplines. I would suggest maybe working in social areas like coffee shops or malls. I also highly encourage going out and doing real user testing. When you put yourself out there like you that you learn to toughen your skin and get accustomed to what it will feel like working with others in a team.
Learn to work with a team
We all have friends and might be sociable but that does not translate 1:1 working on a professional team. Each team is comprised of individuals having special skill sets which now becomes the task we as designers must probe towards and utilize the talents of the engineers to realize the final product. There also cases of miscommunications and failures that might arise. Ultimately you must now realize the effect of the work you do doesn’t end with just you but spreads equally to your team members. So, take your colleague out for a coffee and get to know them better!
Business needs are the Holy Grail
When working on a freelance project or even a personal project you have the sense of driving the bus and decisions can be made in minutes. However, transitioning into a full-time role means you no longer are driving the bus. The business needs will drive the roadmap and in some unfortunate cases, a lot of your hard work might never get used due to a resource, architecture or budget constraint. Don’t let it falter you though, pick back up and continue working on the project at hand and enjoy the ride of a corporate boat.
Decisions MUST be backed by facts
One of the greatest luxuries of working alone is you do not have to justify your decisions to anybody. However, the reality in a company is that you are expected by not just your peers but upper management too that you do the due diligence before presenting any idea or argument. If you fail to do this on a regular basis, you risk having your thoughts rejected outright due to a lack of trust. The bigger the company, the more of this research is demanded which is why Google and the likes have dedicated UX teams. So, start writing out your thought process from now and try to keep a solid fact/data point to back every decision you make for the experience
Time-boxing your responsibilities
When working alone, you have the advantage of switching deadlines if they don’t suit you anymore. If you are working freelance gigs then you are already somewhat accustomed to deadlines but in most cases, they will not be as hard enforced as in a company. Some companies may not give you any deadlines and just expect you to get the work done in a timely manner to realize the companies road map. However, I highly suggest you always set yourself up a deadline and share it with the concerning party. This will allow you to manage your time more efficiently without breaking your word to others
Ultimately, these are two different sides of the coins and as someone who has seen both sides, I can confidently say it depends on the person's personality. I like working in a company a lot more than being alone as I get to enjoy and celebrate with my team for everything we put out. I also see 95% of the things I design come to life. Do the research and if you feel the company is for you then, by all means, dive right in! Cheers :)
With the eCommerce industry growing exponentially each year, it can be hard to set your business apart amongst the increasing competition. In today’s world, success for retailers/brands lies in effective eCommerce and effective eCommerce is not just about having a greater audience reach. It’s about being relevant. Most importantly, a lot of the latest technology is transforming the way businesses interact with their customers. In this article, we will examine some of the latest eCommerce trends that you as a retailer must prepare for in 2019.
eCommerce growing almost four times faster than in-store retail and set to account for half of all sales made by 2021, retailers cannot afford to discount the importance of managing online customer experience. Many consumers use their mobile devices to make purchases, with convenience and accessibility being major priorities for online shoppers. If you want your products to sell, you'll have to make your mobile site as user-friendly as possible.
Some retailers are moving from sites and apps to a new standard: Progressive Web App (PWA) - a hybrid between sites and apps which combines upsides of each and does away with the limitations. PWAs create fast-loading, compelling mobile experiences, similar to what brands and retailers achieve with a native app, while also being discoverable and accessible to everyone via the mobile web. No need to market your app, your mobile site acts like an app. Some of the retailers who implemented PWAs are already seeing an increase in mobile sessions by 51% and 20% increase conversions (ex: Lancome, West Elm)
Search has traditionally been a straightforward, text-based activity. Today, however, the search is changing as new platforms like voice and natural language search create potentially more intuitive ways for shoppers to find what they are seeking and for marketers to position their brands and products. A new effortless way to shop, Voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant are growing more and more popular. According to eMarketer, voice commerce accounted for $2.1 billion last year, representing just 0.4% of online sales.
To engage more customers to use voice throughout the shopping journey, retailers need to implement a voice strategy to make their products discoverable through voice assistants. They have to focus on guiding the user through the touch-points, build trust, make it easy for customers. Some early retail adopters have already taken the customer experience to the next level with voice. For the 2018 holiday season, H&M launched a voice-enabled gift guide spotlighting its home décor collection, powered by Google Assistant. For retailers to ultimately succeed with voice technology, they must truly understand and successfully design the customer journey based on their audience’s specific needs and expectations.
AI has already invaded online shopping trends, 2019 is just another year taking it further. Customers want their favorite products and services easily and quickly. But businesses don’t have enough time or resources to cater to everyone’s preferences individually. Powered by AI, these chatbots learn from customer interactions and conversations and evolve into something even better with every conversation, giving customers a personalized eCommerce experience. They provide 24/7 service, improve the customer journey, reduce stress for the shopper, personify your brand. According to a Facebook survey 50% of consumers said they’re more likely to shop with a business that they can connect with via chat.
As per the Gartner Report from the Chatbot and & AI conference:
85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by 2020
50% of businesses will spend more on chatbots than mobile apps by 2021
$8 Billion in cost savings from the usage of chatbot conversations by 2022
Trends come and go and keep changing but, it’s clear that Mobile Shopping, AI&Chatbots and Voice Technology will play an integral role in the retail customer experience for the masses in the next few years. Innovations and new technology need to be implemented correctly to establish a relationship and build trust with the shoppers so that it will lead to an increase in ROI and conversion rate. We are experimenting with new technology like these at GroupBy. Shoot us an email if you would like to collaborate.
If you’ve spent any time reading marketing blogs or walking the floor at an eCommerce conference, you’ve likely seen the term “Personalization” thrown around a lot. At this point, vendors have realized that they need to claim some form of personalization to stay relevant and attract attention. However, when they are questioned about the specifics of what exactly they personalize on or how personalization is used within their solution, the details and definitions remain elusive.
How is a retailer expected to understand the value or impact of personalization if they can’t even be sure that it will solve a problem they actually have?
First, we should start with a definition.
If we are to define personalization for eCommerce in the most generic way possible, we could say something like “customizing the shopping experience by incorporating one or more characteristics of the shopper.”
This is an intentionally broad definition because there are a lot of ways that a retailer could conceivably customize the shopping experience and there are a lot of signals that a hypothetical personalization solution could account for when considering which characteristics of the shopper to personalize on.
Let’s start with a few examples of how personalization can be applied on a retailer’s site.
One of the most prominent forms of personalization in the industry today is in the content management space. Given that I am a shopper in Toronto, when I go to the J.Crew website, the first thing I see is a banner saying “Hello, Canada!” with a list of country-specific benefits to shopping with J.Crew.
The problem that this specific application of personalization solves is that when I’m shopping with American brands from my home in Canada, I want to be sure about what the products I’m purchasing will actually cost (i.e., in my native currency). I don’t want to end up being shocked by a huge international shipping fee when I get to the checkout. Knowing these things up front makes me much more likely to have a low-friction experience with a better chance of converting than I would be on a site where I have to research whether they even ship to Canada.
Another common form of personalization is through email campaigns.
Every Gmail user’s ‘Promotions’ folder is filled with targeted emails that we’ve received because we added some product to a cart without converting, or we need to know about a deal that’s running on flights from our area to a tropical destination over winter. These targeted messages are a great way to capture attention and get shoppers in the funnel, but they can go awry as well.
For example, I once shopped at a high-end department store because I wanted to buy my partner a nice purse for her Christmas present. Ever since then I have received targeted emails regularly for women’s clothes and jewelry that I will almost certainly never purchase.
The last form of personalization that I want to address here is one that’s close to my heart, given my role at GroupBy.
Personalized search is not nearly as prominent as email campaigns or targeted content; according to a recent study, only 19% of retailers surveyed said that they utilize personalized experiences within search.
In the conversations I’ve had with retailers, a number of them are understandably skeptical. They worry that shoppers will get frustrated if they’re searching for something and a product gets pushed into their results just because they’ve bought it before.
This is unquestionably true - given that search is about understanding a shopper’s intent and bringing back products that match that intent, any search engine needs to respect that intent first and foremost and not muddy the waters by bringing in unrelated products that diminish a shopper’s sense of discovery.
However, if the search engine is sophisticated enough that it can subtly influence the order of results by learning from the shopper’s behavior on the site while still only bringing back products that match the original query, this will lead to a much less jarring experience for the shopper.
As a shopper using personalized search in this way, I am much more likely to see the products I’m interested in near the top of the results and I don’t have to spend time hunting through pages of results to find what I’m looking for. Imagine the experience of walking into a brick-and-mortar store where on every shelf, the first article of clothing you pick up is in your size and the fit is exactly how you like it. That’s the sort of experience personalized search should look to replicate.
There’s a lot more I could say about personalized search since it is a project that I’ve been working on for much of my time at GroupBy, but I’ll leave the details for another time.
Suffice it to say that we at GroupBy see a lot of potential in the power of personalized search, and are introducing capabilities that we believe can take a retailer’s ability to personalize their overall site experience to the next level. If you’re interested in learning more about GroupBy’s personalization journey, please contact us today at email@example.com
I recently had the privilege of attending the B2B Online conference in Chicago, led by a collection of prominent digital marketing and eCommerce executives from across the B2B retail industry. As with many industries, there is an ongoing generational shift within the workforce. In particular, the people making purchasing decisions within buying organizations are accustomed to a specific type of shopping experience - namely, one that does not involve a fax machine, or a phone call with a sales rep in order to complete a purchase. In a country where 1 in every 3 people is an Amazon Prime member, offering a subpar digital commerce experience regardless of industry is a major risk.
At the risk of oversimplification, it is because the purchasing agreements between two enterprise organizations are deeply complex.
Firstly, there are restrictions on the products that the buyer is able to view and purchase. Depending on their industry, or even different regulations from one region to another, there could be products that one buyer can see and purchase that should not be visible to the other buyer at all.
Secondly, prices for the same product will often differ from one buyer to another, depending on the agreement they were able to make with their sales rep. The last thing a seller would want is for their buyers to know that another buyer has a preferential rate on one of the products in their assortment, so it’s critical that the correct price is shown and that the engine is able to sort and filter products by the relevant price.
While the ordinary B2C retailer can simply index all of the products they have with whatever price they’ve chosen to sell them at, the B2B retailer needs to be more cautious about how products are shown and what prices they contain.
The B2B buyer is a multifaceted organization, rather than a single person who has decided to browse and make a purchase. The concept of an “impulse purchase” is rarer, when the average B2B buying decision is made by 6-7 people, all of whom may have very different priorities and motivations. As Jill Steinhour, Adobe’s director of hi-tech strategy pointed out in her keynote, buying priorities vary depending on the buyer’s industry and their interests (Steinhour, B2B Online, 2019)**. She also noted that a growing share of younger buyers are looking to social media and search engines to research products before buying, as opposed to speaking with a sales rep to gather information. It’s increasingly critical that B2B retailers understand the behavior of the companies that buy from them and are prepared to provide an online experience that caters to that company’s buying style and preferences.
One of the other key messages of B2B Online was that any digital transformation within B2B retail has to align with the success of those organizations’ sales teams. Abhishek Shastry, the Director of Product Strategy for Dell, shared an initiative that they had recently introduced to use bots to cut down on simple interactions that their sales reps would ordinarily handle so that they can stay engaged with more complex and high-value engagements. Similarly, the shift towards online-centric buying will provide sales reps with more comprehensive tooling on how their buyers behave when making purchasing decisions, ultimately giving sales the opportunity to be more productive and more profitable if they’re able to take advantage of the technology.
We believe there are two major ways we can help B2B retailers differentiate their digital commerce experience from the competition. The first is by following the example of their counterparts in the B2C space and using a best-in-class search provider to power product discovery for their shoppers. At B2B Online, there were plenty of manufacturers and distributors who spoke about the pains of trying to customize open-source search platforms like SOLR for their use case. Often this means hiring a range of consultants and system integrators to try and help the enterprise build a search experience in-house, losing time and money on basic search tuning rather than focusing energy where it matters most. At GroupBy, we know that we can give retailers a differentiated eCommerce search experience with minimal effort because we have been doing exactly that for retails across a range of industries for years.
The second point of differentiation is when it comes to product data. As everyone who works with search knows, the search experience is heavily dependent on data quality. However, most B2B retailers have a huge problem classifying and organizing the volume and diversity of products they sell. This problem is exacerbated by the trend of retailers either picking up new suppliers or acquiring other companies. In order to provide a unified experience, these companies need to easily standardize their new product assortment with the rest of their catalog. GroupBy’s Enrich product specializes in solving this problem for improved search relevancy and navigation filters.
Lastly, given that our search services are independent APIs, we can add value without requiring complex implementations or incurring overhead to manage. Our products can easily be integrated into an enterprise’s existing eCommerce system with minimal difficulty, and improve relevance without requiring extensive customization from a third-party vendor. As we’ve said before, headless services are the future of eCommerce as they allow retailers to innovate more quickly and truly own the customer experience across the site.
If you’re interested in learning more about how GroupBy can apply these learnings to your business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I often ask our customers how they measure how well search is performing on their site. I’ve heard a range of answers, but broadly speaking they fall into these categories:
We don’t. We measure traditional metrics like site traffic, conversion rate, and average order value, but we don’t attribute that to search.
We look at the conversion rate for sessions in which a shopper searches, and compare this with sessions where a shopper doesn’t use the site search.
We use anecdotal evidence. We take a look at a handful of the top search results, and if they look sensible to us, then we assume search is working well.
The question usually gets fired back to me. How should they be measuring their search performance?
My answer is always the same: it depends on what they are trying to achieve.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are purely an indication as to whether you are achieving your goals. If you have a different goal, you should change your KPIs to match the goal you are trying to achieve.
There are some KPIs that I recommend all customers track, which gives the most reliable depiction of how well search is performing. These are:
1. Search conversion rate: This is a measure of what percentage of search queries lead directly to an order of a product in that results set. It’s the best indicator of how relevant the search results to the shopper.
2. Revenue per search: This is a measure of how much shoppers are spending per search query. For companies that are trying to optimize for revenue, not conversion, this is a good alternative to the search conversion rate.
3. Search clickthrough rate: Similar to the ‘search conversion rate’, this is a measure of what percentage of search queries lead directly to a shopper viewing a product page.
Our customers have different goals. Let’s take two example companies:
1. The Adaptor: A traditional company keeping up with the demands of consumers by building a complementary eCommerce store.
2. The Influencers: A company, typically fashion or cosmetics, driving up brand loyalty through delightful user experience.
These companies have different goals, and therefore their KPIs should not be the same.
Let’s take the example of the Adapter. Their goal is to provide the same online experience as they see in the store. They will be very wary of losing existing customers through poor user experience. The KPIs I would recommend that they monitor are:
Null search rate. How many customers are searching for something that they would expect from this company, but aren’t getting results?
Search bounce rate: How many customers are leaving the site, frustrated with their search results?
The Influencers aren’t too concerned about online conversion. While their ultimate goal is to get shoppers to buy, it’s far more important that their shoppers are loyal and engaged with their site, and are likely to return. They should be worried about:
1.Product views per search:We want shoppers to browse and view products that they are interested in.
2. Time after search:We want shoppers to be engaged with the search results.
A word of caution about the following KPIs, which I find is common across our customers for tracking search performance.
Site conversion rate. Site conversion rate is driven by a huge number of factors, only one of which is search. We have observed a decreasing site conversion rate even when our search performance at the stable, even increasing. Focus on the search conversion rate to get a measure of how search is a contribution towards your overall conversion.
Revenue attributed to search. If the percentage of your revenue that is attributed to search is going up or down, it doesn’t necessarily mean that search performance is improving or reducing. It can be down to a shift in consumer behavior, or an improvement of your site navigation.
Average click position. A high average click position indicates that the top results are most relevant. However, a low average click position can indicate a large number of relevant results, that shoppers are happy to engage with.
GroupBy recently released Search Analytics - easy, intuitive analytics dashboards to help merchandisers make better decisions around their shoppers.
For more information, get in touch with GroupBy at email@example.com
Most retailers realize that the performance of their search and recommendation engines and overall customer experience directly depends on having accurate, enhanced and complete product data.
Classifying your products and defining those attributes can lead to better search results since the search engine gets a better understanding of the context behind the search terms.
Though improved search relevancy is a major benefit, we believe that data enrichment has more than one use case. In this blog, we’ll talk about using data enrichment for content generation.
Once your product catalog is enriched, each of your products gets a list of relevant attributes and values that are fundamental for the search experience on your website. There are thousands of different attributes that retailers can add to their product catalogs, the most common are:
At the same time, these attributes can be converted to special “tags”, similar to tagging in Content Management Systems. “Tags” are small keywords or metadata that can be assigned to your products or posts that act as labels to tell what it is or what the page is about.
Let’s imagine that you’re writing a blog post about newest photo cameras and their different features, using tags would allow you to recommend the most relevant products on that page. Instead of showing all products categorized as “photo camera” you’ll use tags to only pull out products that have attributes or features relevant to your topic, ex. “Aperture Priority Mode”, “ Shutter Priority Mode”, “Exposure Compensation” and etc. This creates more upsell opportunities by introducing your customers into the most relevant product offerings.
Overall, enriched data and tagging helps to get more precise information about your customer interactions that result in a higher accuracy of your campaign targeting and more relevant product suggestions, which means customers get more value from interactions with your website.
GroupBy successfully helped clients in a variety of industries including beauty, apparel, home goods, pharmaceuticals and many more.
Below you can see how data enrichment helped one of the major beauty companies to improve their conversions and revenue.
Interested in learning how GroupBy can help your business? Contact our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a demo.
As a fast-moving industry with plenty of competition, retail is always on the lookout for the next technological trend that will shape shopper behaviour and increase their margins. These trends don’t always come to pass, and large retailers can be understandably hesitant to make expensive bets on whether or not a particular trend is the wave of the future when it could turn out to be just the flavour of the month. However, as I spend more time speaking with our customers, I’ve learned that what we call “Headless eCommerce” is no longer just a trend, it’s the dominant direction of the retail industry.
Historically, eCommerce companies were oriented around monolithic platforms. Generally deployed on-premise, these platforms can handle everything a retailer needs to get an online shop up and running. The appeal to customers is that of a one-stop shop; if there’s a problem with your search engine, or your merchandising tools, or your on-site analytics, you could call the same support line since everything you used daily all came from the same vendor. However, the problem with a platform that does everything you need becomes apparent when those platforms effectively function as closed ecosystems. What retailers came to realize is that when they are only able to depend on one product to solve all of their problems, their ability to provide the best possible service to their shoppers is limited to what a single vendor can support. The retailer is locked into that vendor, and switching to a new platform altogether can be stressful and expensive. The purpose of Headless eCommerce is to give retailers the flexibility they need to pick and choose the services they use to power their online shop based on what provides the most value to their business and their customers. In effect, headless eCommerce turns the retailer into the platform, allowing them to take back ownership of their customer experience. This enables the retailer to drive more value from their partners and providers since testing and even switching to a brand-new service becomes exponentially more accessible and less risky than it was in the platform era.
Headless eCommerce is built on the concept of a microservices architecture, where complex business workflows and processes are supported by many granular components that perform individual tasks and deliver value independent of the other components within that workflow. Every service provided by the old monolithic platforms becomes its own API, and you can pick and choose which services work best for your business when building your online marketplace. It would be easy to assume that eCommerce providers would not welcome the advent of headless eCommerce, and it’s possible that for some companies that may be true. However, GroupBy was conceived as an API-first eCommerce provider, and we are big believers in the value of headless solutions. The reason why is simple: we want to provide the most value to our customers. We want our customers to be able to pick and choose our services because they are the best in the market, not because you have to use one to get value out of the other. For example, our Searchandiser product works incredibly well on its own (just ask our customers.) However, pairing Searchandiser with GroupBy Enrich to improve the product data made available to the Searchandiser engine provides exponentially more value to the business overall. Our catchphrase on the product team is that each service should be “great on its own, but better together.” We believe that the customer should get to decide what makes the best experience for their shoppers and their business, rather than be limited to whatever they’re able to get from a single provider. If you’re interested in learning more about headless eCommerce or considering migrating away from monolithic platforms, please contact email@example.com for a conversation about what GroupBy’s API-first approach can do for your business.
Often merchandisers create the rules, but they don't have a way to preview the results of the rule conditions. Sometimes companies have incentives for promoting a particular brand. For example: when a shopper searches for “shoes,” the merchandisers want a way to promote Adidas shoes first, or a specific combination of shoes sorted in a particular order. As a result, merchandisers have to spend hours tweaking logic in rules or creating custom curated pages to reflect these results on the live site pages. Businesses are not able to keep up with the trends in the market and fail to deliver an engaging experience to the shoppers. Therefore, they are losing out on top-line revenue plus achieving a higher ROI during the promotional events. As per industry research,
80% of shoppers are likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences.
53% reported personalization helps companies achieve KPIs including conversion rate, lead generation, and revenue.
As part of our customer research, at GroupBy we take note of problems and requests from all of our clients. When a particular pain point keeps getting raised, we think about how we can solve it. Visual Rule Builder is our solution that came out of this process. "We have over 4000 rules, and our merchandisers spend 4-5 hours every day refining rules and validating the results set in the reference application." - An industrial and business supplies company Visual merchandising, if done correctly, will allow clients to maximize sales and improve brand visibility. Merchandising is a continuous process and companies have to adapt to the market needs and shopper’s behavior constantly. “Push to Top” allows merchandisers to push select products from the collection to the top of the search result. Push to Top eliminates the frustration of having to do the guesswork of tweaking the logic and verifying with the live site. [caption id="attachment_4700" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Push To Top[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4698" align="alignnone" width="1236"] Restrict To ID[/caption] “We have many brands under our parent company, and we manage individual websites for each of the brands. We find it hard to customize product results for certain promotions.” - A jewelry brands retailer On certain promotional pages, clients usually want to restrict the products that are shown, such as closing out sales (Men’s shoes) or special event sales such as Valentine’s day. This problem can be handled on the backend by the merchandisers using the Visual Rule Builder’s “Restrict to ID” functionality. It allows merchandisers to create a curated set of results, and only these restricted products will be displayed. Instead of waiting until the last minute, merchandisers can create rules ahead of time during the festive or seasonal sales campaigns that can be set to run for a specific period of time. Another feature we introduced is Sort by ID, which allows merchandisers to sort the result set in a particular order. If there are some products already added in Push to Top, they take precedence, but a combination of Push to Top and Sort By ID can be applied to ensure the exact order of the result set. Combination of these features together with the visual preview helps merchandisers put together curated results for their campaigns that drive the best business outcomes for their site. We at GroupBy are always looking to solve business problems for our clients. Get in touch with our team to get a live demo of this feature and enable your merchandisers to create an exceptional site experience for your shoppers.
Big data is everyone’s favourite bad word these days, particularly for e-commerce retailers. They are trying to manage data for large product catalogs, while also trying to monitor performance and simultaneously trying to execute creative merchandising campaigns that ensure shoppers are connecting with their favourite products.