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Dear employee, partner or customer of excentos Guided Selling:
This short documentation describes how to develop, refine and specify a product guide concept.


Introduction

This is the short documentation to give you a starting point only. excentos developed a very detailed and in-depth process for product guide concept creation that is far more detailed than what you see here. This however takes some time to learn, a lot of experience and is our company expertise and thus not open to the public.

The process is based on excentos intensive experience from plenty of projects in a wide range of product categories and millions of usage data records from countless Product Guide sessions.


get involved

(star) We're happy to learn from your experience what actually helped you creating great concepts, so let's keep in touch on ideas how to improve and streamline this process.


 What is a Product Guide Concept?

The Product Guide Concept (or advisor concept), defines:

  1. the phases of the user interface
  2. the questions and answer options
  3. the (dynamic) question flow between the phases / questions / answer options, i.e. which question/answer option is presented in response to user actions or product data
  4. the intended recommendation behavior for each answer option and their combinations
  5. the way of how all of the above is presented to the user (i.e. content, images, user interface)



Do's and Don'ts

Do's

  • think how your best personal sales representative / service staff proceeds

  • work with your market research, web analytics and business intelligence team / data

  • think and work user-centric; try to take the end-user perspective

  • work test driven and iterative to allow quick improvements

  • forget all the details you know about your products for a while - since this is how new customers interact with your website

  • check the references on www.excentos.com how excentos already solved certain problems - and consider what you like and dislike into your concept thoughts
  • create an engaging shopping experience. Use nice images and entertaining and informing explanation content to provide insights to your shoppers
  • create a click path that is not too long and asks only relevant questions
    • define a target clickthrough time depending on your target group and the complexity of your product assortment / the buying decision.
    • E.g. for take-away-products, the clickpath should not be longer than 90 seconds.
      But for complex products where users buy only once every 5 years, the clickpath may take 2 minutes, sometimes even longer. We realized session durations of even longer than 5 minutes, but this is only justified if the Advisor Concept presents engaging explanation content
  • challenge the formulation of questions and answer options. Can every user understand them?

Don'ts

  • don't forget there are different target groups out there: some users know a lot about the products, others don't. Use the Question Flow features to offer additional info / questions to e.g. expert buyers

  • don't look at your product data too early; neither too late (wink)

  • don't stick to your warehousing logic / category system / product assortment rules. Think of use cases instead

  • don't make it too complex - after all, the user wants to take the buying decision as easy as possible (of course depending on the product category's complexity)

  • don't try to cram everything (e.g. all product categories, all target groups, all questions/answers) in one Product Guide or one single click-flow
  • don't think about organizational barriers, different marketing / category managers and sales initiatives of your organization for a while



Step by Step to Your Product Guide Concept

The key steps of the process to develop a sound product guide concept are listed here.

Please use the page "Product Guide Concept Definition" provided in your Confluence Space to document your results. If you have trouble defining your concept, contact excentos.


#StepComments
1Define the target group

Who are the users? What do they know about your products? How much time do they want to spend searching a solution?

It may help to define several "persona" that showcase different types of user needs, search profiles and e.g. web usage patterns.

2Analyze your shop / website

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • can users of the target group find a product / take a buying decision in your current shop or website?
  • can they understand your product names?
  • can they understand the website navigation / category names?
  • can they distinguish your marketing texts? Your product images? Your product data tables?
3Define topics and / or user requirements 

Define topics and / or user requirements that are important to your target group when searching for products.

If you defined different target groups / persona, are there different topics / user requirements?

Group similar topics to define topic groups that could be presented together to the user

4Check dependencies(iterative with "define topics":)
Check if there are dependencies between the topics. Write them down and consider them when defining the question flow and recommendation rules.
Starting from here (or already in step 3), the most effective approach is to directly collect concept ideas into the Workbench
5Define questions and answer options

(iterative with "define topics" and "check dependencies":)
define questions and answer options for each topic.

Carefully define the exact text for each question and answer option.

If you have trouble defining precise and understandable content (for your target group!), you probably missed out one of the steps before.

6Group the questions into an order and summarize them into Stages

Think about in which order and context you would like to present the questions. Depending on the user interface, it makes sense to group the questions into separate Stages (each containing one or more questions).

7Make a first checkCheck and refine your questions and answer options with users of your target group and e.g. product experts, your marketing team, your sales team and your customer services team
8Choose an appropriate Theme

excentos offers a variety of different Themes. Please check our Theme description or test them yourselves in your Workbench account. Each Theme contains a description for intended usecases and features.

Here is what you should pay attention to when choosing the Theme:

  • complexity of your product category and your target group
  • how well does it integrate into your shop / website from a design / user experience perspective
  • how well does it support your Advisor Concept (and especially the desired image & explanation content usage)
9Create engaging and informative Explanation Content

Providing great images and explanation content is crucial for a good conversion rate and upselling of your Product Guide.

Depending on whether you want to create an emotional shopping experience, or show a lot of explanations and product features, you will most probably need different images. 

Please check that our different Themes make different use of decoration images and explanation images.

10

Configure the desired recommendation behavior

For each question and / or answer option, define the desired impact on the recommendation behavior, i.e. which products or product groups would you like to recommend? See Matching and Reasoning
11Define Reasonings

It helps to define which Reason texts / statements about the products and requirements you would like to present to the user. 

(info) Good Reasonings enhance the result list and its conversion since every positive Reason provides an argument why to buy the product.

12

Pre-test

Get some users to test your concept. Make the following tests:

  • do users understand what question / answer stands for which of their self-expressed user requirements?
  • do the the questions and answers help them to get to a product that fulfills their needs. Present example products (as defined in the step "Desired Recommendation Behavior") to them to see their smile or dislikes

  • how long did it take to get to a buying decision?
13Refine your Product Guide concept
14create a powerful Onsite Marketing and Linking concept

It is crucial that your users easily find the Product Guide, whenever they are stuck in the buying decision and otherwise risk to abondon your website.

We've created many tips and examples in this Onsite Marketing and Linking documentation on how to successfully link into the Product Guide and at the same time increase traffic and conversion of your shop: 



You now should have a good concept in place that creates a good basis for going live. The best thing now is to go live in order to collect usage data, analyze it in the excentos Web Analytics and optimize it based on the usage data.



Discuss your concept with excentos and let the Guided Selling Gurus optimize it (wink)

Get help and ideas!

(tick) Of course, excentos will be happy providing you with tips and tricks how to further optimize the Product Guide. It's really important for us to have great Product Guides out there. Just Contact excentos Support, we're here to help!


 Examples of what excentos can do for you

Here are just some examples of our expertise to get the best out of your Product Guide and really optimize your Digital Sales:

  • is there a good site integration that makes sure your users easily find the Product Guide in the right situation?
  • do you get the most out of your product data? If not, what are the options and how can excentos support?
  • how could we enhance the user experience?
  • will every user of your target group understand it? does your concept speak the same language as the user?
  • are the phases and questions useful and to they provide a good Advisor process?
  • can we still optimize the question flow? save time? take out dependencies?
  • are there too many / too few questions per phase?
  • how do we achieve upselling? is there a cross selling potential to increase shopping cart values and margins?
    how do we optimize your margins?
  • how to get the most out of our AI-based self optimization features to auto-optimize the sales performance
  • how do we achieve sales optimization (i.e. sell the products you would like to sell according to your sales goals)

  • how do we market the USPs of your products (i.e. make sure every user understands and remembers the benefits and key arguments for your products)



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