Gain An Edge Over Your Competitors With Advanced Site Search & Personalization

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In a recent interview, GroupBy Inc. CEO Roland Gossage provided a wide-angle perspective on the current state of eCommerce and described how businesses can level up their platforms to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s consumers. 

Roland was interviewed on Episode 68 of eCom@One, the podcast created by the eCommerce marketing agency eComOne and hosted by Richard Hill. 

Titled Gain An Edge Over Your Competitors With Advanced Site Search & Personalization, the podcast episode has Roland posing — and answering — many of the biggest questions facing modern eCommerce retailers: “How do you create a user experience that delights your users? How do you convert? And then how do you convert by creating that frictionless checkout process?”

The answer for retailers, Roland said, is about embracing an omnichannel experience for customers. That conversation has been happening for at least a decade, but Roland said, “we are finally getting to the first stage of that promised land in creating that.” 

That involves “beating Amazon at its own game” by encouraging other retailers to offer different delivery methods, including same-day delivery as well as curbside pickup with a Shop By Store option. 

“Retailers that had prepped for [the pandemic] were able to shift the focus of the omnichannel instantly to that contactless experience,” Roland said. “And then as stores reopened, rebalance that user experience.”

When asked how GroupBy Inc. helps retailers, Roland pointed out that GroupBy deconstructs the user journey on an eCommerce platform to find out where there’s friction.

“You need to take that 30,000-foot view before you delve into features and functions,” Roland said. “Let’s look at where your users are seeing friction.” 

Roland also provided listeners with some historical context of the eCommerce industry before outlining the necessary steps that all eCommerce businesses must take to survive in an increasingly competitive environment. 

That starts with looking at a site’s search functions and making sure that the correct data sets apply to every step of the customer journey, he said. 

There’s often a “smorgasbord of different components that causes a little bit of jankiness,” Roland said. That could include predictive search terms that don't match up with the product results or when the online store’s inventory isn’t constantly updated, so customers arrive at checkout only to learn that the product is no longer in stock. 

He added that those kinds of problems result in more work for the customer service department, which is a “very costly part of the business.”

“So there's some very easy things in the data model that you can use to create that flow,” Roland said. “We really focus on linking the user journey completely through...That really removes a lot of the bounce rates or client unhappiness.” 

GroupBy’s ability to address problems on eCommerce platforms has been leveled up by the company’s new partnership with Google Cloud, Roland said. With GroupBy’s new Product Discovery Platform powered by Google Cloud Vertex AI Search for Retail, the company now has access “to some very unique data sets,” Roland said. 

For example, when two seemingly similar people both search for the same kind of product, like “blue shirt,” Google’s data helps determine the differences in their preferences, empowering GroupBy to deliver personalized recommendations. 

“We actually will provide a unique search experience for users based on their actual user behaviors,” Roland said. “One of the things our relationship with Google buys us is that we also have all the Google shopping signals in the data as well, which is very unique to GroupBy.”

When asked to make a book recommendation, Roland suggested “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't,” by Jim Collins, who met Roland at a GroupBy event. 

The book has valuable lessons for any business, Roland said, because it describes the “white space” between a good retailer and a great retailer. 

“And how do you create that white space? It's usually the little things, as we say, that have the biggest impact,” Roland said. 

To learn more about how to improve your site with search and navigation, listen to the full podcast here.