Before customers "find", they have to discover

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Whether you are on a rooftop bar or commuting to work, if you are in-between meetings or just waking up in the morning, if you are out for a walk or enjoying time with some friends - there is one constant that now defines consumer behaviour. The interaction with our smartphone.

Next time you touch down from a flight - look at the person next to you when they pick up their phone and notice the first thing they do. As I landed down from a trip last week - I noticed nearly all of the people around me going straight to Instagram, and a few others to Facebook.

As consumers, we spend most of our time on our smartphones. We spend hours every day on apps including Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. These apps have permeated our lives and our overall media consumption has now changed to such a degree that they have become the new internet equivalent to a TV ‘channel’.

Smartphone apps, dominated by Facebook and Google, now represent over half of our digital media time spent

Many commentators have highlighted concerns on the ‘addictive’ nature of these media channels. The consequences, it is claimed, is that as consumers we no longer need to consider what to do next - our actions have become heavily influenced by these apps. They are ‘hooked’ by design.

The impact this has had on the world of ecommerce has been gradual but now we are at a tipping point. It used to be the case that most internet browsing was at home (or at work) on a computer. The typical interaction would be to type in a product or search term of their interest on Google, to arrive on the homepage of an ecommerce site and be inspired by the latest editorial campaigns that pushed the consumer to a current promotion. Today, over 60%¹ of browsing now takes place on a mobile phone.

With the shift from computer-based to mobile-based browsing - the proportion of shoppers seeing an ecommerce homepage has more than halved. Now around only 1 in 8 shoppers see a mobile homepage - making the role of a merchandiser almost impossible to influence the direction of the shopper.

Those visitors who arrive deep into the product display page (“PDP”) having landed being inspired by some content they saw on one of these new media channels, actually provide ecommerce merchandisers with something incredibly valuable - the clues of what the shopper might be interested in.

The product catalogue of many retail operations is ever increasing in size, changing weekly, in order to cater for every consumer’s need, and the desire to follow in Amazon’s growth. But despite the increase in size of the product catalogue, fewer products are being seen by users.

It’s simply not possible to get products in front of customers who are time-poor, attention-deprived and overloaded with information. We call this the ‘big small-screen problem’.

Where once merchandising and trading teams could rely on the homepage to deploy price promotions or search to capture attention or to upload a banner to direct the user in a certain direction - a new type of interaction is emerging. Instead, the merchandising team should ask the question “if I had the opportunity to show a visitor just a small set of products - which ones should ones should I pick?”. Starting with the data point that the consumer left behind when they arrived on the site from their ad or campaign would be a great start for how personalization on mobile can begin.

We are in a new age of ecommerce. One in which there should be one site for every customer. That single data point from a PDP, and all of its inherent characteristics along with the timestamp, geolocation, weather and referral source provides a small foundation for how ecommerce can start to take back control of the customer experience.

The quest begins with that single data point and the initial goal is to learn just a little bit more - enough to start a conversation, enough to earn a little trust that can help result in a better and more relevant experience, enough of a reason to start and to explore and discover the most relevant products that ecommerce stores already sell. In the same way that if you are shopping for a highly tailored item in a store such as a suit or a sari - then the store associate needs a few details to get started.

In this world, every event counts. Data is the new oil and machine learning provides the engine that powers a unique experience for every visitor. One that can lead consumers into their own discovery journeys with their favourite brands.

And for the brand, it helps to build a lasting relationship that might not only benefit the revenue line by using known techniques that are proven to work - but can also help inform better decisions throughout the organisation.

We’ve already been working with many brands globally to demonstrably prove that Qubit Aura can have multiple benefits:

  1. For the consumer - with easier product discovery on mobile;
  2. For the organisation - improving efficiency in how they approach a mobile-first strategy, and
  3. For the business - with tangible increases in ecommerce revenue.

Today, we have launched Qubit Aura, an industry-first product discovery solution for mobile web, so that the next time your customers are commuting to work, waiting for friends, or have just touched down from a flight, they can discover a truly personal experience, natively on your ecommerce site.

Qubit Aura is available today. Sign up here to join the innovators.

¹ Qubit customer survey, 2017


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